Look. I have problems with mainstream media. Most major news outlets are nothing more than sensationalistic entertainers, afraid of losing ratings if they interrupt their 24-hour coverage of the latest celebrity trial to report on real news.
But for once, I come to their defense.
I'm not so much defending the media as I'm criticizing its critics. As Kevin Drum points out in a recent post, "here's what the public hears about newspapers from the blogosphere:
- From the right: newspapers suck because they're too liberal.
- From the left: newspapers suck because they're craven apologists for the Bush administration."
But I wouldn't limit the critique to the blogosphere and newspapers. In general, conservatives tend to criticize the media for having a liberal bias, and liberals tend to criticize the media for being conservative. It's like a political litmus test. Unsure about your political beliefs? If you think the media is out-of-touch with mainstream American values, you're probably conservative. If you view the media as "The Man", and think it is entrenched with the dominant power structure, you're probably liberal.
Not to say that there isn't a little political bias in the media. It's hard to argue that Fox News isn't a little conservative, or the New York Times isn't a little liberal. But for the most part, major media outlets appeal to the middle, the mainstream, because that's where the major of the audience (and the money) is.
And the harshest critics, the ones standing on the pedestals shouting into a megaphone about the media's bias, they don't want an objective media. They want a media that caters to their political ideology. They want newspapers and television shows that repeat their party's talking points. They want... the blogosphere.