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The Media Wars Continue

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There are groups on the right that monitor, watch and blast the accuracy of liberal media. There are groups on the left that monitor, watch and blast the accuracy of conservative media.

Now David Brock, the former conservative writer, has entered the fray with a new website “Media Matters for America.”

Media Matters, he wrotes, is “a new Web-based, not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. ….and to spurring progressive activism based on standards and accountability in media.”

Actually, this is all part of the “point-counterpoint” war of political/ideological infrastructures that has blossomed in this country over the past several decades. It can be seen in talk radio, news channels, the explosion in partisan-related non-fiction best sellering books — and content-heavy websites monitoring and attacking opposing sides and news media perceived as unfriendly.

You can trace the conservative media’s birth to the 1950s and the emergence of National Review. But perhaps the watershed was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s massive defeat by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential campaign. Brick by brick conservatives then started to retake their party. The years passed, and after long feeling frozen out of the media, conservatives (some out of design, some by-the-seat-of-their-pants) began constructing a strong and highly entertaining counter media to sell and perpetuate their ideas.

The election of Ronald Reagan was a valuable foot in the door, because conservative ideas suddenly ran the establishment. Then came the 1988 debut of Rush Limbaugh (filling a need in the market) the explosion in talk radio (Rush made business sense for radio station owners). Then the “they’ll-never-last” Fox News network which today usually overtakes Ted Turner-founded CNN in the ratings (partly a tribute to its combative talk-radio style which makes the more traditional CNN look boring). Add to that the clear decline of the New York Times, going from the paper of record to the paper of fabrications, embarrassing corrections and, some charge, near political activism in front-page story placement.

Now, as the country’s political culture has veered more to the right — and centrists face near extinction amid growing political polarization — the left (some out of design like Air America, others more seat-of-their-pants) has begun to try and counter the right’s strong info/opinion infrastructure…an infrastructure that sprung up on the right in reaction to being frozen out of a media perceived to be anchored by liberal-moderate assumptions.

So. in 2004. we’re coming full circle — and now we get Brock’s lively new site.

It makes no bones about it: it goes after Rush Limbuagh, Fox News, conservative websites such as World Net Daily, and writers such as Ann Coulter on specific items involving accuracy. And if you read it to genuinely see what it has to say, it does score some points on inaccurate info not only being repeated by being repeated repeatedly (most listeners do not do a Google search to confirm accuracy).

Its most shocking item: a guest on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes who said of the torture of Iraqi prisoners that “frat hazing is worse than this. ” Media Matters correctly points to detailed press reports detailng what went on…which was a tiny bit different than hazing.

Indeed, if the soldiers were merely behaving like college kids in a fraternity, then someone ought to immediately email a very irate Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez , commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

This morning it was announced that he ordered the most severe level of administrative reprimand for the seven U.S. soldiers invovled in the photographed abuse of Iraqi prisoners. (Sanchez obviously never lived in a fraternity….). And someone also ought to tell top conservative bloggers such as Citizen Smash and John Cole who have been at the forefront in eloquently condemning these not-typical abuses.

So there IS a need for groups on the left and right that monitor the media and point out inaccuracies that listeners will accept as fact — but these media monitoring groups on the right and left do have political anchors, otherwise known as an “agendas.”

If you really care about media accuracy, and want to learn more about it, then you should read materials from media watchdog groups on BOTH sides. Then YOU decide……

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