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During the Nordic Media Festival in Bergen, Norway, in May 2012, the largest media conference in the Nordic region with 1600 delegates, Professor Frank Aarebrot voiced his deep concern over the fact that an increasing number of Scandinavians prefer websites that are not edited by proper, decent journalists. He considers this trend “disturbing,” since it leaves a confused audience to search for information on their own. The flock might presumably be led astray without qualified shepherds to guide their path.
Research done by him and others in Scandinavia proves that journalists have political sympathies that are far to the left of the general population, and have had so for decades. Yet Professor Aarebrot is quick to reassure us that this has absolutely no impact on the political profile of their journalistic work, none whatsoever.
As a matter of fact, if you believe that journalists with far-Left political sympathies might slant the way the mainstream media report issues, you’re just as crazy as those who believe that Elvis Presley is still alive or that little green men from outer space walk among us and built the pyramids in ancient Egypt. Yes, that was the exact comparison Aarebrot drew in court in his expert testimony during the trial against Anders Behring Breivik. This comes from an oft-quoted and respected professor of political science in his native country.
But if journalists have some special ability or gene that makes them immune to the weakness of personal bias that affects that rest of mankind, why can’t neo-Nazis make excellent journalists? That would be the logical conclusion if we truly believe that the personal views of journalists have no impact on their reporting.
After hearing the news of Breivik’s massacre at Utøya on a summer camp of the Labor Party’s youth league (AUF), the American television personality Glenn Beck found it distasteful that a party would have a political youth camp at all. As The Sydney Morning Herald commented, “Norwegians have hit back at former Fox News presenter and Tea Party darling Glenn Beck, after he compared the country’s shooting victims to the Hitler Youth in a radio show overnight. In a monologue on the syndicated radio show The Glenn Beck Program, the conservative commentator said: ‘There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler Youth or whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.’”
Frank Aarebrot, who has studied in the USA, retorted by calling Beck a pig, a “Fascist” and a “vulgar propagandist” leading the American public astray and trying to surpass Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. When Aarebrot is not presented as an objective scientist totally devoid of personal bias of any kind, he is also a Labor Party supporter and a lifelong honorary member of AUF.
To his credit, Glenn Beck did note that Breivik is a mass murderer and a terrorist who is just as bad as Osama bin Laden. Some observers might claim that his comments were in poor taste, but it is nevertheless a fact that Utøya is a place where Socialist politics and ideological indoctrination is combined with youthful hormones.
It is somewhat odd to label somebody a Fascist when that person advocates less political indoctrination of impressionable youths, not more. Let us leave aside the fact that Beck has earlier warned against the rise of European “Fascists” such as Geert Wilders.
Presumably, to people like Frank Aarebrot, “Socialist” and “unbiased” are seen as synonymous terms. Socialists and Social Democrats are simply honest, decent and honorable people working to spread enlightenment and all that is good to the masses. Sometimes they are opposed by irrational forces clinging to outdated myths or susceptible to the propaganda of evil forces.
Bernard Goldberg is the author of the bestselling book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. In it he documents how stories about the plight of the homeless, whose numbers were allegedly mushrooming in the USA, increased under the Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the 1980s but then almost disappeared when Bill Clinton from the Democratic Party was US President from 1993 to 2001, only to resurface once more with the advent of another Republican President, George W. Bush.
The frequency of stories about homelessness was not directly related to the actual number of people living in the streets; they represented a bias in the mass media. Homeless individuals were often presented as innocent victims of a cruel and heartless capitalist society. Less was said about the fact that quite a few of them had problems with drug or alcohol abuse and might at least partially have contributed to their own situation.
Goldberg mentions a study from 1996 among journalists in Washington D.C. showing that fully 89% of them voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, more than twice Clinton’s share among regular voters. 50 percent said they were Democrats; only 4 percent identified as Republicans. This very pronounced left-wing bias among leading journalists has remained remarkably stable for many years. Similar numbers will probably be found in Hollywood and the American entertainment industry, too, which have a major international influence.
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