Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Columns

Reiniers: Media Bias has a storied past


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The bias of the mainstream media can be subtle - yet stunning at the same time. An example: I was unaware of the results of the special election for Bill Young's congressional seat, so the following day, I tuned in to CNN only to hear nothing. The other traditional network channels also ignored David Jolly's victory.

Most political pundits thought Alex Sink would defeat Jolly - as did Republican insiders. After all, Sink and President Obama carried this Pinellas County district twice. So I thought the results would be ballyhooed all over the mainstream media. Then it dawned on me that Jolly might have won. I went to cable Fox and discovered that indeed Jolly had won. Jolly, by golly!

This was a local race yet it was being covered by the mainstream media because they believed a Sink victory would have national implications and validate Obamacare. Even Bill Clinton threw his support behind Sink with an automated call to voters talking about Sink's "commonsense solutions."

The New York Times saw this Republican victory as a "triumph in its fight against President Obama's health care plan" for good reason. Jolly pledged a full repeal of Obamacare, whereas even the Republican House leaders and candidate Sink simply propose to "fix" it. So here's a far-right, 42-year-old nobody with no name recognition, and a lobbyist to boot - and he wins.

What should be more newsworthy for network commentators to sink their political chops into? But the liberal network media simply ignored it because Jolly won.

This is, unfortunately, not unusual. They know TV is the only source of news for the most reliable Democratic voters - the government dependent poor, minorities and the under-educated. They know these folks don't read newspapers or watch Fox. So if they don't broadcast a news event - it simply didn't happen.

The tactic of not reporting the facts is almost criminal because the public has a right to know. A "free press" not under the yoke of government, has the responsibility to report the news of the day, otherwise media controlled by, or influenced by big government, fills the vacuum - as history has shown - with whatever they believe the public should or should not hear.

Back in the day the only medium was print journalism; no radio, no TV, no internet. And typically it was the newspaper, a circular or magazine that told us the "news," which usually reflected the politics of the publisher. It didn't matter because this was what the readership wanted - and besides there always a competing newspaper. (We've come full circle in recent years. The liberal traditional media, after many years, now has competition with the advent of talk radio and Fox.)

For the media to lie about the facts carries too much risk. It is far more practical to spin the facts, or cherry-pick through them, or what we are now witnessing: the media "managing" the news. It is somewhat reminiscent of the motto adopted by the New York Times in 1897: "All The News that's Fit To Print." (In other words we'll make that decision for you.)

The psychology is interesting, because if a reader or listener becomes aware of a significant fact later, it simply doesn't have the same emotional impact; or its significance is lost. As liberal pundits are fond of saying, "That's old news."

Examples of this tactic are endless. such as Van Jones - President Obama's "green czar", one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2009, best-selling author, now at CNN - who was videotaped, after having been in prison, saying: "I met . really radical communists . and it was like what I need to be part of . and by August I was a communist." He resigned as czar. This highly newsworthy admission never was reported by the mainstream media - TV or print - and by the time it surfaced, it was "old news" and explained away.

A surreal, almost bizarre example occurred in 2009 when two very cool, very attractive young people - one dressed as a prostitute, and the other, her boyfriend, in white khakis and a blue dress shirt - visited four ACORN offices around the country with hidden video cameras.

A little background: President Obama had long-standing ties to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the largest radical group in the United States, whose agenda has been described as promoting "authoritarian socialism." They were community activists whose uniform was an orange jacket or sweater. Their tactics were aggressive and in-your-face. They had terrified citizens much the same way Hitler did with his "Brown Shirts." They had a large presence nationally in liberal urban areas, and targeted big-box stores such as Walmart or banks, and even had disrupted Federal Reserve meetings.

The president was an Acorn "Leadership trainer" which was a perfect fit for a community organizer, and had even, after law school, represented them in an Illinois lawsuit.

Back to our two reporters with hidden video cameras: They pretended to seek legal and tax advice on how to run a house of prostitution using 13 young "like 15 years of age" girls from El Salvador who would be living with them as "dependents" while engaging in the sex trade. The Acorn employees were completely duped and gave them all sorts of advice on how to run a criminal enterprise. The videos were hilarious, with uneducated Acorn workers explaining child tax credits even though the girls were "performing tricks."

This was first-rate newsworthy material for any newspaper or network TV. It was like reality TV out of Hollywood central casting - a great story - if it only had a Republican connection.

Given the Obama connection, this scandal never appeared in the mainstream media until after edited versions of the videos were released by conservative media. The Acorn employees were fired and a Democratic Congress cut off generous taxpayer funding for their nefarious community organizing activities. The liberal media simply couldn't ignore it any longer.

As liberal media bias evolves, the technique of simply managing the news has proven effective. To paraphrase the NY Times: "All the news that's fit to print (that we think you should know about)."

John Reiniers is a retired attorney and regular columnist who lives in Spring Hill.

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