TV political ad question

Donna Halper
Fri Aug 3 17:06:19 EDT 2012

On 8/3/2012 4:43 PM, Bill O'Neill wrote:
> Objectivity is in the eye of the beholder.  Even a journalist who is 
> known to be quite balanced can evidence a bias by the simple nature of 
> the subjects and people booked by the journalist.  The questions NOT 
> posed can shed light on bias.  The follow-up pattern to responses can 
> be, likewise, revelatory.

True that.  Even in the "good old days," the networks all relied on 
"official sources"-- usually from the government, and the reporters 
tended to be deferential to big business CEOs (the so-called "Captains 
of Industry").  The myth that the media spoke truth to power is a 
durable one, but not always accurate.  I just reviewed a very 
interesting media history text called "Mightier than the Sword" (3rd 
edition) by Rodger Streitmatter, and while I don't agree with every 
conclusion he makes, he shows very eloquently that throughout history, 
the mainstream press were sometimes on the "wrong side" of issues 
(defending segregation or praising the KKK for example or promoted the 
views of their owner (in the era of "yellow journalism," when Hearst 
wanted a war, his newspapers made sure that they advocated for ... and 
got... a war).  How a story is reported is not always about liberal or 
conservative bias.  It's often about assumptions-- I know first-hand how 
the women's movement was misrepresented as a bunch of man-hating 
bra-burners (oh and supposedly, we were all lesbians, which will come as 
a shock to my husband, to whom I've been married for 25 years).  But I 
was there and believe me, no bras were burned (another durable myth); in 
fact, most of the people I demonstrated with cared more about equal pay 
and equal opportunity than about hating anyone -- what we hated was 
being paid less or being talked to like we were five years old. Yet that 
was not how the older guys in the media reported on the story, all the 
while claiming to be objective.

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