Fox News’ Shepard Smith Talks Media Bias, Obama Win

Fox News’ Shepard Smith Talks Media Bias, Obama Win


And what he says may surprise you…

I welcome the day when the “liberal media” meme dies once and for all. Because it’s not only inaccurate, it has been used as a clumsy bludgeon by lazy Republican hacks since the early days of Reagan when folks like Limbaugh first went on the air and started claiming it as if it were fact.

In any event, well said Mr. Smith.

  • kranky kritter

    I have always maintained that it is as important or more important to be concerned about the media’s bias for itself…which is to highlight and promote sensationalism and trivia, and to provide coverage that is overpersonalized and so fragmented as to lack any sort of overarching coherence.

    That said, I look forward to the day when liberal folks stop simply denying that the media leans liberal in its political and social views, and that this has a demonstrable effect on their coverage. I’ll cheerfully agree that conservatives overplay the victim card on this issue. But that’s because there is enough truth to the charges that they ring pretty true outside the liberal intelligentsia of NPR and true blue blogs.

    I studied media bias in college at a liberal grad school. The stuff about the media’s bias for the things it values highest (ratings) is interesting and spot on. The descriptions of the media’s flaws when it comes to actually educating and informing the public about current events? Also spot on.

    But invariably the texts simply minimized or dismissed the notion of liberal media bias as mere rhetorical tactics. And that’s a shame. I grew up liberal, and I’ve studied media bias and critical thinking. And I absorb a lot of media coverage in the newspaper, on blogs, and on tv. Here’s the thing: the academic case for simply dismissing liberal media bias just doesn’t hold water. It consists of half special pleading and half contending that whatever bias may exist is a necessary palliative.

    By the way, I don’t know Sheperd Smith too well, but good on him for fact-checking Joe the Plumber’s ass on whether Obama meant death to Israel. His approach was absolutely called for, in my opinion.

  • Mike A.

    Those are all nice words, but no supporting facts. Also, good work using labels to create an us vs. them mentality….”the liberal intelligentsi of NPR”. Synonymous with “intellectual elite”? Guess we should all be listening to Fox News, fair and balanced.

  • kranky kritter

    OK, Mike, go ahead and read those books I studied, and then you tell me why the arguments dismissing the notion of liberal media bias hold water. Just ask, and I’ll be happy to give you a few titles.

    What really frosts me here Mike is how eager you are to try and pick apart a cogent argument that I am certain is based on experience, understanding, and careful thought by focusing on something trivial like my admittedly careless use of the phrase “liberal intelligentsia.”

    I happen to have spent a lot of time getting flack FROM THE RIGHT for the very same views that I have expressed above. So I’m pretty comfortable that my version is far, far, closer to the truth than either the version of aggrieved victimhood that the right sports or the version of utter dismissal that the left supports.

    The bottom line is that media bias exists to varying degrees on varying subjects. And it often gets in the way of regular folks developing a coherent understanding of the world, Media biases towards things like sensationalism and fragmentation have nothing whatsoever to do with conservative versus liberal media views. They have everything to do with ratings and the blurring of any line between information and entertainment.

    Only in some instances is the bias related to liberal ideology. But it’s there, it’s real, and it’s one part of the problem. Where it exists, it doesn’t usually IMO have that much to do with any sort of conscious conspiracy. It’s simply the case that in the American job market the sorts of folks who are attracted to journalism are exposed to and adopt politics that are somewhat more liberal than the average schmoe. And that manifests itself sometimes in the nature of media coverage, we get. You really don’t need to go much deeper than to notice the force behind one of journalism’s most deeply honored credos, which is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

    In general, more liberals major in things like journalism, communication, literature and arts (you know, “liberal arts?”) while more conservatives major in business, economics,accounting, and so on. If you don’t believe this, you’re just not paying attention to the world you’ve lived in. That this schism would lead to no real world effects in terms of where the biases lie is absurd. It explains perfectly the editorial gap between the NY Times and the Wall St Journal. And most newspapers and TV networks are more like the NY Times than the Wall St Journal. That is just the way that it has been.

  • mw

    Does anyone even really seriously argue this point anymore? It has been clearly established in studies, by insiders in books and even admitted by major newspapers that this liberal bias in mainstream media exists. It is a fact. Just like it is a fact that Fox News has a Republican bias (I won’t say conservative, since they spent more time over the last eight years being Bush apologists than standing up for conservative principles). MSNBC took it to a new level, functioning effectively in an advocacy role and a PR arm of the Obama campaign.

    Anyone who does not recognize bias in media is simply blind to their own biases. If your worldview is that Obama is a gift from God, while Republicans are the spawn of satan, then media coverage which is dramatically more positive to Obama and negative to McCain is not biased, it is “truth”.

    That said, I agree with Shepard in this piece. It is silly to say that this bias shapes the outcome of elections. If it did Bush would not have won two terms. Most people are smart enough to see through the bias, and/or will seek out the coverage that is most closely aligned with their own views. It is just human nature.

    In some ways MSNBC shows like Olbermann, Maddow and Hardball are more honest than FOX and the MSM. They do not even pretend to wrap themselves in an illusion of journalistic objectivity. They disclose their bias in every show. I think it is much healthier and we have a better informed electorate, if everyone just assumes bias, look for it, and bring a strong does of skepticism to any and all media coverage.

  • Chris

    There’s been a number of stories and articles and studies published during this last campaign that showed on average, across all networks NO media bias. So while your grad studies from 1984 might have been valid at that point in time, the media in this day and age (by media I mean, paper, tv, and radio) has an equal bias overall. Fox is for republican, msnbc for democrat and so forth. The media only reinforces and reflects beliefs, it doesn’t create them for the most part. The premise of what the guy on the left of the screen was saying is that obama won because the media helped him is silly. He’s a silly person.

  • Philip

    @chris: Your contention that the media is completely unbiased is absurd. All people have their own biases and prejudices and they bring those biases with them to their work place.

    Unless a person is aware of this bias and willfully chooses include a correction into their thought processes as they form opinions on subjects, it is likely that they will have very biased opinions. You don’t need a study to prove this. Only common sense. But then common sense isn’t that common these days.

  • blackoutyears

    Good Lord. We might as well start whining about the conservative bias of the military. Or public prosecutors. People are attracted to careers like journalism or soldiering or convicting criminals because of their values, not in spite of them. Anyway, objectivity is overrated, you squares.

  • Joy

    I wish that reporters would simply report the news in a manner which is as unbiased as humanly possible. Honestly, I don’t want to know the reporter’s opinion of a simple news story. I just want the basic facts fed to me straight up.

    However, journalists, pundits, editors, special commentators, entertainers, etc. are not required to be unbiased. They exist to give us an their uniquely biased view of the world.

    The idea that publications (or networks) must be unbiased is a relatively new one. I would hate to think that I could only get one view of the world to chew on. That would be tragic.

    I would like to add, however, that I got a little sick of my Republican friends complaining that has a liberal bias. The lack of a conservative/Republican tilt does not equal a liberal/Democrat bias.