What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News Paperback – Mar 3 2004
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
What Liberal Media is a little dry at times but you can learn a lot from it. One of the best chapters was the chapter on the 2000 election. Read morePublished on April 30 2004
I will try to be kind here. The basic argument I got from reading this was that because conservatives own the companies that produce the news, that automatically means that you're... Read morePublished on April 29 2004
This book needs more info on why the lamestream media will never mention that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics killed 62 million people; The Peoples' Republic of China... Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by Rex Curry
We know that the media is left-wing ; everybody knows that, right? Not Eric Alterman and he'll tell you why the media is far more conservative than you think. Read morePublished on April 6 2004 by J. Davis
This book is nothing more than lies. Any reasonable person would not beleive this nonsense. All of the big names in the media are extremely liberal and very influential. Read morePublished on March 27 2004 by Andy Richardson
Turn on the radio and listen to the drug-addled Rush Limbaugh or his neo-idiot companion Sean "Hamfist" Hannity. Read morePublished on March 27 2004
Sorry, Alterman, but I just don't buy it...
Alterman is very good at making his point in this polically charged answer to Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias. Read more
Mr. Alterman received kudos from the 4 & 5 star reviewers over his literary style and extensive research, whose minds were obviously already made up as to the thesis. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2004 by Will Foxx