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What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News Paperback – Mar 3 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (March 3 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465001777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465001774
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.2 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,500,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The incredulity begins with the title What Liberal Media?, journalist Eric Alterman's refutation of widely flung charges of left-wing bias, and never lets up. The book is unlikely to make many friends among conservative media talking heads. Alterman picks apart charges made by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Sean Hannity, and others (even the subtitle refers to a popular book by former CBS producer Bernard Goldberg that argues a lefty slant in news coverage). But the perspectives of less-incendiary figures, including David Broder and Howard Kurtz, are also dissected in Alterman's quest to prove that not only do the media lack a liberal slant but that quite the opposite is true. Much of Alterman's argument comes down to this: the conservatives in the newspapers, television, talk radio, and the Republican party are lying about liberal bias and repeating the same lies long enough that they've taken on a patina of truth. Further, the perception of such a bias has cowed many media outlets into presenting more conservative opinions to counterbalance a bias, which does not, in fact, exist, says Alterman. In methodically shooting down conservative charges, Alterman employs extensive endnotes, all of which are referenced with superscript numbers throughout the body of the book. Those little numbers seem to say, "Look, I've done my homework." What Liberal Media? is a book very much of 2003 and will likely lose some relevance as political powers and media arrangements evolve. But it's likely to be a tonic for anyone who has suspected that in a media environment overflowing with conservatives, the charges of bias are hard to swallow. For liberals hoping someone will take off the gloves and mix it up with the verbal brawlers of the right, Eric Alterman is a champion. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

While the idea that a liberal bias pervades the mainstream media has been around for years, it gained new currency with the 2001 publication of Bernard Goldberg's Bias and its 2002 successor, Ann Coulter's Slander. Alterman (Sound & Fury; Who Speaks for America?; etc.) now seeks to debunk the notion and goes so far as to argue that bastions of alleged liberalism like the Washington Post and ABC News "have grown increasingly cowed by false complaints of liberal bias and hence, progressively more sympathetic to the most outlandish conservative complaints." He largely succeeds: whatever your politics, Alterman delivers well-documented, well-argued research in compulsively readable form. His chapter on business journalism, for instance, is a thrill-ride through the excesses of late 1990s optimism and the subsequent crash in stock valuations and mood. But he also counters that while the economy was peaking, major media outlets virtually ignored traditional left-wing issues like labor rights, which had been neglected, and income inequality, which was growing. In contrast, he says, the media fawned over chief executives while almost totally failing to confront corporate fraudsters. Alterman also observes that the center of American politics has shifted to the right in the last several decades, which he attributes to efforts by conservative think tanks and their financial backers. Whether readers agree with Alterman or not, his writing on the business of opinion making is eye-opening. This book will be required reading for anyone in politics or journalism, or anyone curious about their complicated nexus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on June 16 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a very insightful, heavily footnoted, and meticulously researched piece of work. Eric Alterman completely shatters the myth of the "liberal media," which has become accepted as conventional wisdom pretty much accross the board, due to the tactics of conservative commentators and ideologues over the past three decades. Alterman effectively communicates that by constantly screaming that the media has a leftist agenda, conservatives in this country have been able to shift the public discourse to the far right. Afraid of giving validity to the right's accusations of a liberally slanted media, the mainstream media apply very different standards to liberal and conservative figures (hence their portrayal that Bush won the 2000 debates because he didn't drool on himself and didn't appear to be a complete and total idiot, while Gore "lost" because his mastery and grasp of the facts made him seem too condescending.) More recent examples include the media's assault on the liberal Howard Dean, effectively stomping his popular campaign into the gutter, and the total whitewash of Ronald Reagan's horrific and terrifying legacy. (A truly liberal media would have championed the Dean campaign as he was the most electable progressive candidate in the primaries, and and a truly liberal media also would have pointed out Reagan's policies of ignoring AIDS and of supporting deathsquad dictatorships, such as in Iraq, El Salvador and Guatemala).Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on March 7 2004
Format: Hardcover
Okee-Dokee...I have now slogged through Mr. Goldberg's book on how the media is too liberal and Mr. Alterman's book on how it is actually too conservative. Having survived, I now come back up the mountain to give you all my opinion.
The problem with both of these books is best expressed by comparing them to the main weakness of your typical domestic order of Fish & Chips. Here in America one has no problem finding good chips (take a good look at our collective waistelines) but the Fish is rarely, if ever, fried to perfection. Both authors fail to even fry the right fish here.
Both Alterman (who by the way is probably the most engaging guest ever to appear on C-Span's Washington Journal) and Goldberg (whose recent work on HBO's Real Sports proves him to be a journalist of first rate talent) dance nicely through their themes and critiques. I'll even be super-generous and say that they are both mostly right in what they say.
The problem is this--for all their beautiful dancing, their failure to percieve what should be their true quarry is fatal. Both books become mere partisan babble. Each author, spouting partial arguments that ultimately turn inward, is left, much like the featured ballerina in Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, dancing to their own death.
Yes the media is too liberal.
Yes the media is too conservative.
Both Goldbeg and Alterman argue this well. They then declare the case closed. If only it were.
The gutwrenching truth of it all is that the media is only as liberal and as conservative as its owners need it to be to serve certain interests. We live in the age of megolithic media control. There is no real diversity in major media. The minute there is, it is either co-opted or bought out.
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Format: Hardcover
Real Americans don't stand a chance of understanding their country until they stop thinking in terms of "liberal" verses "conservative." Evangelical Christians see the media and other institutions pushing homosexuality and abortion - they're right! Others see the media pushing corporate greed - they're right! America is run by a group of people who want everyone to be oversexed, drug-addicted (Ritalin and Prozac preferred), childless, single, poor, stupid, and irresponsible. Can anyone with half a brain deny this? Does anyone really think that an upperclass of whom Paris Hilton and George W. Bush (the drunk, chronically unemployed trustfund baby, not the media creation) are typical members and who have purposefully set the country on a course where the best non-management job'll pay a measly $35,000 a year by 2010 wants ANYTHING else? People are going to be arguing about abortion and gay rights until we're all crowded in trailer homes - and guess what, we'll just get whatever a few fat cats want on those issues anyway. Americans better get their heads out of the conservative/liberal butts and think for themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
I've tried to make sense of the claims of the nattering nabobs of negativity here but what else makes sense other than that this is probably the only book about media bias most of the reviewers have ever or will ever read? The claim of Liberal Media Bias isn't really intended to include op-ed talking (bobble?) heads of state like Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Savage, Hewitt, etc. I mean, I like Rush Limbaugh at times but it's a Red Herring Straw Man ignoratio elenchi kinda thing to finger him as counterweight to LMB. He's not a newsmember! OK, so maybe it should be called Liberal Newsmedia Bias. Umm, so what? If you read what any of these people were actually saying the media bias was you'd already know that. Read Goldberg's two books, Bias and Arrogance. Read them, at least! Please, oh scholars of the Anyway, the central thesis behind liberal media claims are now and always have been centered on the claim that our NEWS MEDIA are chartered solely to try to "objectively" present fact and logic. Inasmuch as half the terms in that sentence are deconstructible, non-epistemological terms we can ignore for the sake of dialogue, for the moment. It's as if, after 30 seconds of gorilla-logic cerebrating about Goldberg et al.'s claims a revelatory VH1 pop-up appeared in the minds of these MENSAs: Rush Limbaugh! Sean Hannity! Bill O'Reilly! Ann Coulter! Muahahahaha gotcha! Uh, not really. Nice try though. I'm not a conservative, if you must know, and niether do I think being one disqualifies one from making good points about media bias anyway. So, in review: Liberal Media Bias = Putatively-Objective-Newsmedia Bias. Get it? Yes, there are more conservative talk show hosts than liberal. Whoopdie doo.Read more ›
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