Liberal Media Bias: The Greatest Threat To Our Democracy Today?

Texas Representative Lamar Smith has announced the formation of the Media Fairness Caucus in the House of Representatives. This would be a pretty funny venture if only because he asserts that the mission of his caucus is for…

“…the American people to get the facts and then be allowed to make up their own minds, not be told what to think. When you have network news programs and front pages of national newspapers reading like an editorial page or sounding like an oral editorial, then the American people aren’t getting the facts, they’re not getting the objective news. They’re getting opinion. And if all they do is hear is one side, that does have an impact over time.”

It sounds like Smith is launching a war against Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. But that can’t be, can it?

Smith’s caucus is apparently open only to Republicans who will busy themselves with writing letters to editors and making one minute speeches on the House floor. There doesn’t appear to be any substantive agenda for the caucus other than working the refs. And the only venues for the announcement of the caucus have been Fox News and the ultra-right wing NewsMax.

Smith is a few years behind the curve with regard to House media caucuses. Democrat Maurice Hinchey has already convened the Future of American Media Caucus with a mandate to reform ownership regulations and promote greater independence and diversity. Hinchey’s group is open to all members of Congress who seek to bring real reform that addresses the root causes of media bias and faulty journalism.

The truly remarkable thing about Smith’s announcement, however, is that Smith ranks the liberal media bias that he is imagining as…

“…the greatest threat to our democracy today.”

That’s right – a bigger threat to the nation than a terrorist attack or a depression. And Fox News’ Bill Hemmer agrees with him. It is from this perspective that he hopes to fashion the return of objective and responsible reporting. Good work, Lamar.

3 comments

  1. Be very afraid.

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    If you have a moment, please help me to win a Democracy for America scholarship to Netroots Nation. Thanks.

  2. has that most astute sensory perception of Helen Keller!

    • Edger on June 6, 2009 at 1:35 am

    THE greatest threat…

    One of my favorite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by the host for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What is the secret?”

    What is the secret? It is a question seldom asked in newsrooms, in media colleges, in journalism journals, and yet the answer to that question is critical to the lives of millions of people. On August 24 (2006) the New York Times declared this in an editorial: “If we had known then what we know now the invasion if Iraq would have been stopped by a popular outcry.” This amazing admission was saying, in effect, that journalists had betrayed the public by not doing their job and by accepting and amplifying and echoing the lies of Bush and his gang, instead of challenging them and exposing them. What the Times didn’t say was that had that paper and the rest of the media exposed the lies, up to a million people might be alive today. That’s the belief now of a number of senior establishment journalists. Few of them-they’ve spoken to me about it-few of them will say it in public.

    Ironically, I began to understand how censorship worked in so-called free societies when I reported from totalitarian societies. During the 1970s I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group Charter 77, including the novelist Zdener Urbanek, and this is what he told me. “In dictatorships we are more fortunate that you in the West in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and nothing of what we watch on television, because we know its propaganda and lies. Unlike you in the West. We’ve learned to look behind the propaganda and to read between the lines, and unlike you, we know that the real truth is always subversive.”



    We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

    — John Pilger, August 8, 2007

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