President Obama complained last week in an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman that American politics is increasingly dysfunctional for a number of reasons including the “Balkanization of the media.”
The Balkanization of the country as a whole is just fine, as evidenced by his lawless illegal immigration policy, but the media have to be united. It’s clear that he does not value a diversity of viewpoints. According to the president, “people just watch what reinforces their deepest biases” and that’s a real problem.
Liberals have always been able to watch what reinforces their deepest biases. It’s called the network news. They can have their deepest biases confirmed in print as well, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and nearly every other newspaper.
When Obama says that he worries that about people “watch[ing] what reinforces their deepest biases” he isn’t talking about his fellow liberals. There is no such thing as a media outlet that reinforces liberals’ biases because they don’t have any. Only the opposition does, and it’s their biases he’s talking about.
Despite attempts at even-handedness, diatribes about media fragmentation always sound phony. Liberals don’t like it that someone else’s biases are being confirmed. There ought to be a rule against that!
I’m glad that President Obama opposes the so-called fairness doctrine in radio and television which would mandate “equal time” to differing points of view on controversial subjects. There is, however, some evidence that his position is a sham like his previous opposition to same-sex marriage. His FCC even proposed a pilot program to monitor newsrooms for “balance.” They backed away from that one after considerable outrage. In any case, the traditional leftist position on the issue is supportive of the doctrine. Liberals just want to hear “both sides” and all that stuff.
Have you ever met a liberal who really wanted to hear both sides of an issue? I haven’t. There’s a reason they insist on campus speech codes, criminalize policy differences, fire conservatives from their jobs, and shout down opposing speakers. Surely it isn’t because they’re worried that the other guy won’t be allowed to speak his piece. They even complain that there’s too much balance on stories about, for example, global warming. Since November of 2013, the Los Angeles Times has even had a policy that prohibits all letters to the editor that dispute the theory of anthropogenic global warming. You can’t make this stuff up!
What President Obama is really complaining about with his “Balkanization” remark is that people are allowed to hear differing viewpoints, though not in equal proportions, of course. FOX News may be the behemoth of the cable news market, but its influence is a not an equal counterweight to the combined forces of MSNBC, CNN, the networks, and print media. What he really wants is total domination of the narrative factory that influences so of much public opinion. The fact that someone else gets to speak every once in a while, on one cable channel, is intolerable.
Someone who really wanted to hear both sides of controversial issues would be thankful for a supposedly “Balkanized” media. That person would switch back and forth between FOX and MSNBC, between Carville and Krauthammer. He would understand that the two networks don’t always cover the same stories and that seeing the bigger picture requires watching both.
Liberals love to make fun of conservatives on account of our nostalgia for a time they think never existed yet they cling to their “good old days” fallacy too. They pine for a time when they controlled the printing presses and the rest of us had no alternative source for news.
Their journalistic good old days peaked in 1974 when the legendary Woodward and Bernstein duo took down a president named Richard Nixon. I don’t blame the two Washington Post reporters because they uncovered true malfeasance which precipitated a coverup, which in turn precipitated abuses of presidential power. They did their job in keeping politicians honest.
Yet it should not be ignored that previous presidents—FDR, JFK, and LBJ—pulled similar shenanigans. Why couldn’t the Washington Post be bothered to investigate those presidents? Because they were liberal Democrats, of course. They got a pass. The fact that Carl Bernstein was the son of card-carrying communist parents, and that he sought to weaken a president who was trying to salvage a war that Bernstein didn’t want America to win explains a lot too.
Forty years later there’s at least one network that will cover similar abuses by a leftist president. I’m speaking of FOX News, of course.
Recall that the second article of Richard Nixon’s averted impeachment proceedings concerned the abuse of the IRS as a tool to harass political enemies. Sound familiar? This administration has done the same thing, possibly on a grander scale, and yet the non-FOX media dismiss it as a “phony scandal.” CNN is busy running day number 6,089 of the vanished Malaysian Airlines jet and other drivel but it isn’t overly concerned about Nixonian abuses occurring in our midst.
FOX covers it though, and that’s pretty cool. Is it any wonder that the guy who weaponized the IRS for political retribution wishes that the media were less divided? If he had his way, every news outlet would be forming a silent front, thus killing this story in the cradle. It’s so frustrating that one network doesn’t sing in harmony with the rest.
The media in this country aren’t “Balkanized” enough. They’re still absurdly biased to the Left, making no pretenses of covering issues such as same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, abortion, or global warming with any degree of even-handedness. Conservatives have managed to find a very modest toehold in the journalistic world, but we shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that any kind of sea change has occurred. We’re still losing the media wars. Yet the fact that we’re even allowed any voice at all—a cable network, a few talk shows, half a newspaper—is an existential threat to this president, his administration, and the movement he represents.