It. is. not. the. same.

There’s a rather long  thread below about media – well, it started out about media – the tone, the quality, the bias. All of it. I’ve always thought that we come at this conversation about media bias from the wrong direction entirely. There’s a perfectly normal way to determine, for instance, what the mainstream of Americans consider to be mainstream media. Let’s measure it the way we measure all other products.

So here –  in that most American of ways, I pose a few simple questions:

  • Where do Americans put their money?
  • What are they willing to pay for.

Looking at print media:
(That most frequent target of conservative media, The New York Times, reported a circulation (March 2009) of 1,039,031 copies on weekdays and 1,451,233 copies on Sundays. And the venerable Wall Street Journal has equivalent if not higher weekday numbers. But since the Times is perceived to be ‘liberal’ throughout and the Journal is perceived to be conservative only in its editorial pages, they’re not politically opposite. The Journal is a hybrid. So a comparison would not be useful.)

NEWSPAPERS
The Washington Post – A publicly traded company
Daily audience 1,599,900

The Washington Times – A privately held company owned by the Rev. Sun Young Moon
Daily audience 83,511

MAGAZINES
The Weekly Standard – a privately held company
Can’t find circulation numbers, even at their own website, so to keep it fair(ish)
National Review – a privately held company
Weekly circulation 183,000

Time Magazine – A publicly traded company
Weekly circulation 3,400,000

I draw the reader’s attention to which of these publications thrive in the free market and which are rich men’s hobbies.

And note also which of these publications Americans pay good money to read. Keep that in mind the next time politicians and pundits employ their equivalency trick and claim that these sources carry the same weight. Americans are choosing to buy and read what far too many people call liberally biased. So is mainstream America liberal?

15 responses to “It. is. not. the. same.

  1. Hey Moe, what about The New York Post? I would think they would be pretty conservative, for obvious reasons. Aren’t they a pretty big outfit? Also, what I meant by Partisan Media being unconstitutional is this… The Public is stupid. Just look at Massachusetts, with what happened recently. Our president is having a hard enough time trying to achieve the things he promised us, without a joint effort in Congress; because of a republican party that is only interested in seeing “the black man” fail. And now, it is likely that the democrats are going to lose even more seats, and…AND… FOX NEWS KEEPS RUNNING THEIR BIG MOUTH! And people are listening to that nonsense! The White House tried to warn the public about Fox, but they will not listen to reason! Fox is tearing up the ratings, and using Press AGAINST the people, by swaying public opinion to a certain agenda! Death to Fox! How can you not see? The Public is stupid, they cannot be counted on to know the difference. They trust the News, you see? *retch*

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    • Our president is having a hard enough time trying to achieve the things he promised us

      Jeez. He had a super majority in the Senate and overwhelming majority in the House. The fact that he couldn’t get anything done is an indicator that he is ineffectual. It is not a cause to bash non believers.

      because of a republican party that is only interested in seeing “the black man” fail.

      I’m calling Bullshit. The very idea that I can’t oppose the President without being called racist is totally beyond the pale. Even for you.

      AND… FOX NEWS KEEPS RUNNING THEIR BIG MOUTH! And people are listening to that nonsense! The White House tried to warn the public about Fox, but they will not listen to reason! Fox is tearing up the ratings, and using Press AGAINST the people

      First, the White House has no business involving itself in the press. Very dangerous ground when that happens. Second, please see the study done I referenced in Moe’s earlier post. Fox is more fair than 75% of the other media sources.

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    • Texan – The NY Times and the Wash Post are both national newspapers, which is why I used them. The NY Post is strictly New York. It’s a fun paper, but it’s not national.

      And I have to go with Pino on that racist thing. While racism is still very much with us, I’d say that except for very marginal groups it’s not responsible in any way for political opposition to the President. That’s political, pure and simple. Which is fine – it’s how we do things.

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  2. I would not say the Public is stupid. I think a better term is that the Public is indoctrinated. The business press has been putting out its message for decades, its priorities have become the Public’s priorities.

    How do you ask the important questions when they lay outside the bounds of acceptable debate?

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    • An example of the ways we’ve accepted unacceptable ideas as given truths is the way people (including the press) constantly equate Wall Street’s performance with the economy. Wall Street stopped being an indicator of the health of American businesses a long long time ago. All it measures is the profitability, which can flourish in the oddest of circumstances.

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      • Good point. And if the Dow dips when a bank bill is introduced – it might be a good sign. That it will work. A small bit of Wall Street is for good investment and enabler of new things, but mostly it’s just a casino with junkies.

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  3. First, the White House has no business involving itself in the press. Very dangerous ground when that happens.

    The WH has always involved itself with the press. It is necessary to so if one wants to set the nations agenda. The give and take between the corporate media and the WH is a prominent feature of any administration. The relationship is one of access. The government will grant media access to information the government has, of course on the condition that the information is portrayed in a favourable light.

    It is rare to find a journalist that does not work within this existing framework. I.F Stone is an example one journalist that did not work within the ‘system’.

    Fox is more fair than 75% of the other media sources.

    Within the American media, which is not a particularly ‘fair’ system to begin with.

    Media analysis requires some meta-analytical thinking. Certainly that one poll indicates Fox is the most ‘fair’ (and I would hold this objection if it found CNN the most fair), but fair in what context? It is the context that is so important when dealing with this issue.

    The US media is largely pro-business and highly conservative in nature. This narrative dominates and often decides what is to become news and what does not.

    The US does not have a labour press anymore, labour publications were pushed out of the market. The lack of a labour press is a detriment of the US because the labour press represented(s) a different point of view on many issues as well as a different worldview.

    Having both the business class and the working class viewpoints represented in media would be valuable in gathering information in order to critically think about the issues.

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    • Interesting that you mention I.F. Stone. I admired him. He was a real liberal and a genuine journalist – even sometimes a muckracker, which is something we could use a bit more of these days. And while the right never paid Stone any heed, at least his reporting and his analysis made it out there into the mainstream press – maybe not under his own byline but the ideas got out there.

      I don’t know that today’s press is conservative actually – I think they are corporate, and they are too invested in entertainment.

      WE’re hearing some buzz about new models for accommodating investigative journalism now that most newspapers can’t afford it any more. (I remember too when the networks had a correspondent in practically every important country.)

      People are talking about foundation support of non profit news gathering orgs – govt sponsorship would never fly here beyond the support that PBS and NPR get today. So this foundation idea is a good one. We need serious journalists – or we’d have nothing to write about!!

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      • I don’t know that today’s press is conservative actually – I think they are corporate, and they are too invested in entertainment.

        Agreed Moe, I was just trying to frame the argument in a less partisan manner. The current press in the US is by its very nature corporatist, pro-business, and right-wing.

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  4. The Arbourist: I totally agree with you. The media is much more conservative than some may think. The common man is not represented very well at all by the media. I do however, believe the public is as dumb as rocks. Especially here in Texas. I have never seen so many broke rednecks who don’t know any better then to vote republican. If you ever doubt how gullible and dumb the public is, just move to Texas. It hurts me to admit it, but dumb! D.U.M.B.

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    • [I do however, believe the public is as dumb as rocks. Especially here in Texas. I have never seen so many broke rednecks who don’t know any better then to vote republican.]

      It makes me so sad that there’s more than a little truth in that. In this country, we have a long history of anti intellectualism and over and over again it serves us poorly. It holds us back in modernizing our society – oh, we get there eventually, but man it’s like molasses because we’re so suspicious of ideas and change.

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