Listen up, students. Professor John is going to lecture you today on the “mainstream media.”
You’ve heard the term, yes? It’s meant as an epithet. It’s said by those who think of the media as a four-letter word.
The term “mainstream media” came from the right wing of the political spectrum. I cannot cite the precise date the term surfaced, but it’s been around for some time.
MSM usually is a kind of code, students. It comes from those who want the media to think like the righties think. They see their own brand of MSM as pure. They’re the truth-tellers.
They hold, for example, Fox News as their model of truth-telling. Why? Well, Fox has an agenda. It is to undermine the “other side.” By that I refer to the president, Democrat Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in government. Watch most Fox broadcasts and you see how they continue to harp on the same so-called “scandals,” while other media turn their attention — usually — to other issues of the day.
What the righties don’t get, though, is that Fox has become as “mainstream” as the other media. Fox enjoys good ratings among news-and-commentary junkies across the nation. As the leading “conservative mainstream” outlet on cable TV, Fox has a good portion of that segment of the TV-viewing public to itself. Thus, its rating are good.
However, since Fox “covers” the news in a fashion that is suitable to those on the right, it is exempted from the pejorative label of “mainstream media.” Fox’s own talking heads even refer to other media as “mainstream,” sounding as if Fox is some outlier network seeking to be heard by a vast viewing audience.
The other so-called “truth-tellers” reside on the right. They comprise a variety of websites, online political newsletters, unabashed conservatives (of which I have no problem, if they ID themselves as such) and self-described political “watchdogs.” They, too, are exempted from the MSM label.
How about the other major networks: CNN and the broadcast networks — NBC, ABC and CBS? They’re the bad guys, according to those on the right. Why is that? Well, they report the news — in my view — without the flair of some other media. I’ll lump the “liberal” media outlets in that category, such as MSNBC. Don’t forget PBS, the network funded by private donations and from the government. At times, even PBS gets tarred with the MSM label. How silly.
Print journalism also gets lumped into the MSM camp. Namely it’s the New York Times and the Washington Post, the two big daddies of print journalism. Throw in the Los Angeles Times and a smattering of other major metros across the nation and you’ll see them criticized because they don’t cover the news with enough ferocity to suit those on the right. My own view is that they’re doing their job, which is to report the news … period.
However, these media outlets continue to be seen by those on the right as coddling left-wing politicians. Those critics miss a fundamental point here. It is that human beings rarely recognize their own “bias.” They see it in others, but not in themselves. If a news medium does not report on issues with one’s own slant, then they’re “biased.”
With that, students, our lesson ends.
If you’re going to criticize the “mainstream media,” take care to include your own favorite news organization in that category. Chances are they’re as “mainstream” as the media you are trying to criticize.