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What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News Paperback – November 30, 2002
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The incredulity begins with the title What Liberal Media?, journalist Eric Alterman's refutation of widely flung charges of left-wing bias, and never lets up. The book is unlikely to make many friends among conservative media talking heads. Alterman picks apart charges made by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Sean Hannity, and others (even the subtitle refers to a popular book by former CBS producer Bernard Goldberg that argues a lefty slant in news coverage). But the perspectives of less-incendiary figures, including David Broder and Howard Kurtz, are also dissected in Alterman's quest to prove that not only do the media lack a liberal slant but that quite the opposite is true. Much of Alterman's argument comes down to this: the conservatives in the newspapers, television, talk radio, and the Republican party are lying about liberal bias and repeating the same lies long enough that they've taken on a patina of truth. Further, the perception of such a bias has cowed many media outlets into presenting more conservative opinions to counterbalance a bias, which does not, in fact, exist, says Alterman. In methodically shooting down conservative charges, Alterman employs extensive endnotes, all of which are referenced with superscript numbers throughout the body of the book. Those little numbers seem to say, "Look, I've done my homework." What Liberal Media? is a book very much of 2003 and will likely lose some relevance as political powers and media arrangements evolve. But it's likely to be a tonic for anyone who has suspected that in a media environment overflowing with conservatives, the charges of bias are hard to swallow. For liberals hoping someone will take off the gloves and mix it up with the verbal brawlers of the right, Eric Alterman is a champion. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
Media bias has been preventing the American public from getting the whole story, says journalist Alterman, and bestselling books like Ann Coulter's Slander and Bernard Goldberg's Bias aren't helping matters. Alterman, who writes the "Stop the Presses" media column for the Nation and an MSNBC Web log, "Altercation," passionately lays out his case in this succinct, abridged reading of his latest book. Along with Coulter and Goldberg, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and George Will come under the gun, too, as Alterman picks apart the problems with today's news media. While it's intriguing to hear him list what he sees as quite grievous offenses by conservative media outlets, Alterman's well-documented research is what makes the book so engaging. Alterman reads this audiobook like a fervent political science or journalism professor might, listing facts and citing reports, then adding his own inflections to emphasize points. A Queens, N.Y., native, Alterman speaks with a slight accent and an even slighter lisp, but this does not detract from his heated, heartfelt performance.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Well researched and documented.
A bit dated, though, as it refers to people like Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly as if they were still media movers and shakers.
Among the portions of the book I found informative is a section dealing with the origins of the charge that the media has a liberal bias. Although the author does not deal with the history of this claim in its entirity (which would take another book), he does discredit some of the common claims and psuedo-science of those who insist liberal bias is real.
The double-standard that is applied to bias in the news is revealed clearly as Mr. Alterman discusses the dominance of conservatives in the radio and television arenas. He provides examples of the bias of people such as Coulter, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly, while revealing the folly of anyone considering them unbiased. Some of the the quotes that Ann Coulter has made, which are reported in the book, reveal her to lack all credibility and to be a frightening zealot.
Mr. Alterman's arguments combine to present a formidable challenge to what many accept without question. I recommend this book to those who have an open mind and would like to examine this issue, as well as to those who would like to become more informed in order to argue against the notion that liberal media bias is truly widespread. I would caution liberals and conservatives alike to read with an open mind and check the arguments made against the evidence presented and the footnotes. All in all, an excellent book that succeeds in discrediting a notion that was sold to the American people and continues to harm our democratic republic.
Alterman puts in his book the quote from the GOP strategist who freely admits that the whole mantra of "the liberally biased media" is a sham, used to cow the middlers to the right and the lefties to the center.
Not only does he thoroughly destroy that absurd myth with more information than everybody's compiled before, he points out the obvious: if the media is so "liberal," where are all the liberal points of view?
Name one popular liberal national radio host. Name one with successful TV show--as I type this, news is now breaking that Donahue has been canceled on MSNBC, effective immediately.
The most maddening--or revelatory, depending on your personal involvement--points concern all the financial magazines, the Wall Street Journal and the CNBCs of the world and their baldfaced skew towards touting big businesses that would ultimately become poster children for corporate corruption. Enron. WorldCom. Tyco. Analysts shamelessly pushed these companies in the media until the facade exploded--yet none of them suffered any long-term damage or credibility problems.
He also details reporters' utter failure to cover the election with responsibility because they didn't like Gore. The anti-Gore stories were overwhelming in the final months of the campaign and the subsequent Florida fiasco, while Bush remained virtually untouched.
Anybody who can explain that and then say with a straight face that the media is liberal (after eight years of Clinton bashing) ought to write their own book--which we can promptly file in the "fantasy/fiction" section.
With that said... DON'T BUY THE AUDIO CD, BUY THE BOOK!
No offense Eric, I'm sure it was hard to read the book aloud, but you've got a terrible reading voice. I had a difficult time understanding what you were saying at first. I think it took me until the last CD to actually get used to your voice. The CD's also seem kind of quiet.