Democratic Underground  
Liberal Like a FOX
October 9, 2003
By Memekiller

For once, I have to agree with the talking heads on the right. CNN is the most liberal name in news. But when this is so clearly the case, why is CNN's coverage to the right of the majority of Americans?

Time and again polls show the public's priorities more in line with the Democratic Party than the GOP, yet you wouldn't know it to watch TV. Even "mainstream" outlets such as MSNBC have started emulating the 24-hour White House press office, FOX News. MSNBC's board is rumored to see Faux as a "model" and has already started doing their part to misinform the public with the addition of shows like "Scarborough Country." In comparison, CNN is liberal only in that they have to be badgered into following the Republican Party line rather than leading the charge.

Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in a recent survey conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and the polling firm Knowledge Networks that analyzes prevalent misperceptions the American public holds about the Iraq War. Anyone familiar with FOX News's post war reports of underground nuclear research facilities and chemical weapons stashes won't be surprised to learn that 80 percent of FOX viewers are misinformed about at least one basic fact about the War, such as whether or not WMDs have already been discovered. What is more disturbing is that 48 percent of those who watch the "liberal" CNN have similar misimpressions about a Hussein/Al-Qaeda connection.

What to do about all this? I've heard suggestions that lefties organize to create their own version of FOX News. I understand the motivation. Not having our own vast left wing conspiracy doesn't mean we won't be accused of wielding it in the Wilson affair, so we might as well try to get some benefit out of one.

The problem is spin doesn't sit as well with liberals as with our conservative counterparts, even when it's spin in their favor. But a liberal station wouldn't have to twist stories to get an audience. Instead of distorting information, a liberal outlet could assert its slant by presenting facts you can't get anywhere else. Imagine our own version of "Talk Soup" that highlights the most outrageous statements that so often go unchallenged in Op-ed columns and on the airwaves today. Even a few open minded Republicans who are tired of being misled by other news channels might tune in to broaden their worldview.

But could such a station be financially viable? Trust fund babies will always be more willing to invest and donate their fortunes in enterprises that convince the masses to abolish their estate taxes, but seven interns armed with a Lexis/Nexis account can correct a lot of myths. All it takes to debunk a bogus multimillion dollar climate study put out by a petroleum front group is one reporter who's allowed to do it. It remains to be seen whether liberals would support this venture with the same cultish passion as true believers on the right, but people of all political persuasions would enjoy seeing one station take Ann Coulter to task for one of her gross inaccuracies, or O'Reilly brought down a peg. Not to mention the fact that exposing Washington shenanigans can be quite entertaining.

The benefits would extend far beyond profits. Out of a sample of nearly 10,000 in the PIPA survey, not a single Democrat who got their news from PBS or NPR mistakenly believes there is an Al-Qaeda connection. With a similarly responsible station on cable, future PIPA surveys would show better informed viewers across the board. Right now liberals complain so rarely that CNN wears any criticism as a badge of honor and they've had to drift quite a ways to the right to earn what they've gotten. Having a station that presented non-Republican views would provide CNN cover when they dared to drift off the White House script. Even FOX viewers would benefit once Brit Hume became wary about spouting off once a watchdog is willing to call him on it.

Thankfully, Al Gore has been rumored to be raising money for a channel that balances out the rhetoric, but he's got a long way to go. (One doubts the ruling class would provide as many riders and tax breaks to a channel unwilling to give them a free ride.) But one thing's for sure: a news station that informed the public rather than forwarding the interests of its CEOs and appeasing a tiny minority of rabid ideologues wouldn't face much competition.

Memekiller is a freelance writer and journalist.

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