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Goldberg contrasts the mass media’s reactions to the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 with its response to Timothy McVeigh’s evil deeds when he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds of others. Political leaders such as US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair plus the Western press were quick to reassure the public that the acts of Arab Muslim Jihadists who murdered thousands of unarmed civilians had nothing to do with Islam, which is a religion of peace.
Goldberg recalls that McVeigh’s misdeeds from the Los Angeles Times to Time magazine were blamed on the “hateful rhetoric” of right-wing groups or the popular American conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh:
I thought about how it took some of the media elites only a few days before they started to play one of their favorite games – connect the dots. What they found back then – or more accurately, what they convinced themselves they found – was a line stretching from Oklahoma City to the Republican Party to conservatives in general and finally to Rush Limbaugh. Dan Rather said, “Even after Oklahoma City, you can turn on your radio in any city and still dial up hate talk: extremist, racist, and violent from the hosts and those who call in.”
Dan Rather is the former news anchor for the CBS Evening News from 1981 to 2005 and has also contributed to CBS’s 60 Minutes, a prime-time television news magazine which has run since 1968. In May 2012, Rather canceled an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor at Fox News, instead showing up on the satirical TV program The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where he argued that there is no left-wing bias in the mass media.
Goldberg, who worked with Rather for years, retorted that “His statement is a sham – he’s not telling the truth.” Much of the press is working to see that Obama is reelected, for instance. Bill O’Reilly looked back at the history of the powerful CBS broadcaster, noting that Walter Cronkite, the longtime anchorman of the CBS Evening News (1962-81), was a “very, very left-wing guy,” but he could hide it and wasn’t “some crank.”
Bernard Goldberg convincingly demonstrates with example after example how strong left-wing political sympathies not infrequently translate into lopsided reporting in real life, slanted in favor of left-wing politicians, organizations or causes, and how this bias colors reporting on men vs. women, whites vs. non-whites, or gays vs. straights. He repeatedly stresses, however, that most journalists honestly don’t see themselves or their reporting as “biased.” They tend to view themselves as smart, well-meaning and educated people without prejudice.
According to their own world view, perhaps we could call many members of the modern Western mass media and academia the Enlightened Class, who spread enlightened values to the masses while dispelling myths and warding off the evils of conservative backwardness, superstition and primitive dogma.
In every single Western country for which I have seen studies, journalists have political sympathies to the left of the general population, sometimes quite far to the left. The question is: Does it matter?
I think it does. The mass media are incredibly powerful. They are the eyes and ears of modern societies and affect how we collectively perceive the world around us. If they distort our senses by viewing everything through red-colored glasses, it becomes hard to accurately recognize and deal with problems. When faced with real enemies – and there will always be enemies – such a systemic distortion of reality could prove fatal.
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