Unlike one blogger and his commentariat, I can’t ever recall a direct confession from any news medium attesting to a lack of bias. I’m not sure most Americans of either ideological extreme want unbiased news. Consider the reading habits of most internet folks. We find our interests. We club with like-minded people who enjoy homeschooling, orthodox catholicism, cooking, the moons of Jupiter, cryptozoology, or whatever. People who disagree with me have told me so: they tolerate my site, but they feel much more comfortable at other blogs. And as the transactional analysts suggest, that’s ok.
As for the tv and print media, let’s look at this closely. I remember media portrayals of themselves when I was growing up. I also caught the early 60 Minutes, watching over my dad and mom’s shoulders when I was a kid. The media had an obvious bias. Skepticism. If something didn’t sit right in a story, they would go deep down the throat of someone who wasn’t coming clean. They were like bulldogs, these 70′s journalists.
My second memory was watching my favorite space broadcaster, Walter Cronkite. He was undoubtedly biased in favor of the space program. But I don’t recall that was a problem for him or his viewers. When I watched coverage of a space mission, I didn’t (and don’t) want the events to be muddled by detractors. I want to follow the facts, and if the facts as reported have a certain positive enthusiasm behind them, I don’t see that as a bother.
Shifting forward to today, when Rachel Maddow moved to network tv, I tuned in for a week or two. Even more than Cronkite, she has a very definitive take on the subject of her reporting and commentary. She strikes me as fair and even-handed, respectful to guests, bending over backwards to make accommodations. In sum, she conducts herself as a professional. It’s not a problem for me that she’s biased. If I were a regular watcher of tv news and political commentary, I would just want to trust the person and network I was watching. My readers know I don’t trust networks, and even serious personalities don’t hold my attention that long on tv.
I have little enough to say about Fox network; I’ll save that for the end. On the issue of sex and morals, they’re probably all secular liberals–at least where entertainment television is concerned. And I don’t doubt that their emphasis on entertainment in sports (the one thing I might occasionally watch on the network) doesn’t extend to entertainment in news and commentary as well. Enough said on that score.
Having an unbiased media would be irrelevant to me even if I watched more tv or read more print sources. The higher values–fairness, professionalism, honor, respect–and their evidence in a product that is thorough and honest and uninfluenced by corporations or the wealthy and powerful: this is more important than knowing particular commentators are either with me or against me ideologically.
Archbishop Dolan’s rant on anti-Catholicism strikes me as narrow-minded. Some of his criticisms rest on media ignorance of Catholic details. And his complaint about the Franciscan priest is well-taken. Unfortunately, journalists are not experts on the stories they cover. As a person with a serious interest in scientific hobbies, I routinely see gaffes in astronomy in the media. Spelling errors are all over the place these days–I found two on one page in a published book a few weeks ago.
Some of the archbishop’s complaints are against sister and brother Catholics. Are we to believe the Church is divided against itself in bigotry? At worst, one can characterize the work of Catholic reporters and opinionists as uninformed. I think it was Archbishop Fulton Sheen who remarked there were actually very few anti-Catholics in the US. Most who proclaimed or appeared to be so were deeply misinformed about the Church.
Fox Network can help us. Remember the motto from the X-Files? Trust no one. With the right emphasis, trust no one, it summarizes my approach to information. It’s a good way to go in the internet age too. Trust that many different viewpoints will help us in discerning the important values of Truth. Recognize that individual viewpoints each contribute a piece to what we know, what we want to know, and for what we search. Now, please get off this thread and find some contrary opinion to mine.