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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: #931,354 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

Media bias has been preventing the American public from getting the whole story, says journalist Alterman, and bestselling books like Ann Coulter's Slander and Bernard Goldberg's Bias aren't helping matters. Alterman, who writes the "Stop the Presses" media column for the Nation and an MSNBC Web log, "Altercation," passionately lays out his case in this succinct, abridged reading of his latest book. Along with Coulter and Goldberg, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and George Will come under the gun, too, as Alterman picks apart the problems with today's news media. While it's intriguing to hear him list what he sees as quite grievous offenses by conservative media outlets, Alterman's well-documented research is what makes the book so engaging. Alterman reads this audiobook like a fervent political science or journalism professor might, listing facts and citing reports, then adding his own inflections to emphasize points. A Queens, N.Y., native, Alterman speaks with a slight accent and an even slighter lisp, but this does not detract from his heated, heartfelt performance.
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Lum on Dec 10 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mind you, I'm sure a thoughtful conservative review does lurk here somewhere, hidden among the tens of ill-written rants and out-of-hand dismissals that are already posted. But alas, this is going to be another liberal-minded review.
I just finished the book--accelerating through it after some early worries about Alterman's writing style (relentlessly complex sentences that require careful parsing).
I was skeptical at the outset, nodding along with Alterman's admission that to argue for a conservative media bias seems "beyond the pale" at this moment in time. However, it's difficult to counter his argument. Certainly, none of the first 50 or so opposition reviews on this site do anything like counter it.
The ironic and sad thing is that the most confident conservative dismissals of Alterman's case here seem to miss his thesis entirely. Just because the majority of television and newspaper reporters (or bureau chiefs) are liberal-minded does not mean that they currently produce a liberally-biased product. This idea seems to dumbfound the conservative audience, who cannot imagine a mindset where dedication to one's journalistic profession might possibly trump dedication to one's personal ideology.
Mind you, I am not saying that a liberal press could not produce a liberally-biased product. Just because a scoffing Sean Hannity says it's so, however, does not make it so.
Alterman uses the only defensible approach--one based on statistics as well as numerous specific, well-documented examples--to convincingly show that the current conventional wisdom about liberal press bias is wrong.
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