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We have had a few interesting exchanges lately (some of them in the comments section) regarding the MSM (mainstream media) and liberal bias. Here are a few assertions:

1. No rational observer can credibly deny a liberal bias in the mainstream media (MSM).

2. However, bias should not be confused with orchestrated advocacy. There is no "vast left-wing conspiracy" in the MSM. There is no master plan to bring Democrats to power or put Republicans out of business. The MSM bias for liberal candidates and causes is real, and it is systemic and institutional, but it is not concerted.

3. For the most part, the MSM does not see itself as slanted. Most members of the MSM see themselves as adherents to a strict code of objective journalism. Objectivity equals professionalism for most mainstream reporters; therefore, they view charges of bias as vile insults. (If you call Dan Rather biased, he will probably want to "take you outside").

4. The MSM is not wholly defined by its liberal worldview. The MSM's cynicism acting in conjunction with its other biases for conflict and sensationalism are also essential in explaining its political coverage.

5. Although vastly outnumbered, the new conservative media has emerged a powerful counterweight to the MSM. For the most part, the conservative media makes no pretense of "objective" journalism. "Fair and balanced" means something different to conservative journalists than it does to the MSM. The new media value honesty and a free exchange of ideas, but they are much more unabashedly partisan than their counterparts in the MSM.

Defining my terms:

MSM: NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, CBS News, CNN, ABC News, NBC News, Time, Newsweek, etc.

Conservative Media (my term--most conservatives prefer "alternative media" or "new media"): Fox News, Talk Radio & the conservative blogosphere.

Liberal Media: While some conservatives see MSM and liberal media as synonymous, with this term I actually refer to the partisan liberal media such as the Nation, Mother Jones, Pacifica Radio, Michael Moore & other Hollywood friends, etc.

NPR and PBS: A category unto itself. Generally, NPR and PBS provide a much more intellectual and restrained presentation of the news. For example, NPR and PBS are not nearly as scandal-driven as the MSM. For the most part, the public radio and television audiences are liberal (with the occasional conservative intellectual); notwithstanding, no matter their political affiliation, NPR and PBS news consumers are much more apt to have their world views fully formed. As a result, while NPR and PBS are more ideologically pure in their liberal worldview than the MSM, they are much less influential in shaping public opinion.

C-SPAN: another category unto itself. C-SPAN attempts to show all points of view without editorial comment. C-SPAN is fundamentally conservative in the ultimate Jeffersonian libertarian sense ("give the people light and they will find the way"), but the relatively unwatched mother lode of political information remains the only completely pure source of unvarnished news.

15/11: Man Bites Dog

Yesterday, I caught a few minutes of the Sean Hannity radio show. He was interviewing (debating is a better word) Charlie Rangel.

File this under things I never thought I would hear myself say: Rangel won hands-down.

In addition to relying on the host's advantage of talking over his guest, Hannity was rude and unfocussed and determined to present Rangel with a series of false choices. Nevertheless, Rangel kept making the salient points.

But here is the wildest part: by the conclusion of the engagement, it was clear that Hannity was totally committed (rhetorically, at least) to a Wilsonian ideal while Rangel articulated a classic conservative realism. How did we get here?