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American Pravda: “Liberal Bias”

When a small publication such as The American Conservative publishes a sharp attack against the mainstream media as I recently did in American Pravda [1], the ultimate result largely depends upon whether that selfsame media will take any notice. Many tens or even low hundreds of thousands may read a highly popular article online, but such totals are negligible in a nation of over three hundred million, and those readers might anyway question the credibility of the charges. After all, one of my central arguments had been that our media decides what is real and what is nonsense.

With the media serving as gatekeeper to its own criticism, the impact of my efforts remained in substantial doubt over the last month, but early Monday morning the ground shifted as the venerable Atlantic—one of America’s oldest publications and still among the most influential—published a very thoughtful 2,000 word discussion of my piece, under the noteworthy heading “Why Does the American Media Get Big Stories Wrong?” [2].  Agreeing with me on some particulars and disagreeing on others, author Conor Friedersdorf helpfully summarized my critique while also providing several suggested answers to his own title-question, something that I had not treated in detail.

The article certainly seemed to strike a nerve, reaching #2 on the The Atlantic’s most read list, and the piece has now been tweeted out well over 500 times [3], with perhaps a hundred of those tweeters ranked as “influential” and often themselves being members of the journalistic community. Based on the a quick sampling of particular tweets, I’d estimate that over one million individuals and possibly as many as two or three million have now been alerted to the topic. Most Americans—especially most American journalists—realize perfectly well that our media ecosystem is broken, and are very concerned about the depth of the problem. The crucial question is whether others will now continue moving the story forward by taking advantage of the opening so helpfully produced by this important Atlantic article.

Many will certainly ignore the issue, or else try to force the discussion into the meaningless convention of ideologically partisan Left/Right debates. For example, Peter Sterne of The New York Observer [4] noted the Atlantic piece in his Tuesday column, but summarized my original article as arguing that “liberal bias” was the root of our media problems. Just consider that one of my central examples had been the case of New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg, whose shocking charges against the Nixon Administration [5] have for decades been totally ignored by the American media. Does Sterne really believe that Schanberg is a rightwing talking-head on FoxNews and Richard Nixon a great hero of the liberal-left? Far more likely is that he had never bothered to actually read my article before ridiculing my analysis. In either case, I would suggest that he fully exemplifies the media problems I describe.

By contrast, consider the response of a small leftist website called Metafilter, one of whose pseudonymous participants initiated the discussion of my article [6], which he summarized thusly:

A provocative essay on the flaws of the American media by the editor and publisher of the American Conservative, Ron Unz, containing: allusions to conspiracy theories, condemnation of Soviet spies (and a kind word for Joe McCarthy), criticism of the FBI, approving quotations of Paul Krugman, fresh questions about the moral character of John McCain and his fitness for office, disapproving descriptions of the Obama administration as “Bush’s third term,” and a broadside against the selling of the Iraq war calling it the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history.”

While I might not agree with every particular nuance, the general description correctly provided the general flavor of my piece, and the debate that followed was spirited and interesting, though perhaps overly focused on the question of Joseph McCarthy and Alger Hiss.

So we have the case of a paid journalist at The New York Observer who sharply criticizes an article he obviously has not read, while anonymous leftist bloggers discuss and analyze that article, despite collecting no paychecks. Isn’t this a major part of the exact point I was making? Tens of thousands of unpaid and anonymous Internet participants are increasingly doing the job that our established media will not.

 

What does it mean to no longer trust our media? Well, here’s a personal example.

Yesterday marked the 24th anniversary of the Chinese crackdown in Tiananmen Square, when tens of thousands of peaceful student protesters, demanding an end to government corruption and oppression, were brutally attacked by the Chinese military, with many hundreds killed. I still remember telling all my friends at the time that we might have witnessed the greatest world tragedy of our lifetimes. The top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party itself had been sharply divided over what action to take, and the so-called “June 4th Incident” is still subject to enormous domestic censorship within China, as was described in the Tuesday’s front page New York Times story [7] recounting the historical event and its continuing reverberations in that country.

For a quarter-century, the official Chinese media has always claimed that the student protests had ended peacefully without any deaths and for a quarter century informed Americans have always ridiculed such ridiculous claims as proof that Chinese Communist propaganda remained as dishonest as ever. Certainly that was always my own opinion.

But what if the official Chinese media has been telling the truth for decades and it is the American media that has always been deceptive?

When my original American Pravda article ran, one of the longer early comments came from an individual who made these exact allegations [8], and included a link back to an essay on his own website [9], which fleshed out that analysis together with various sources. He claimed that the violent clash between troops and rioting mobs actually occurred miles away in a different part of Beijing, with the rioters themselves having attacked the troops and provoked the bloodshed. In his account, these street battles were entirely distinct from the peaceful occupation of Tiananmen Square, whose protesters were indeed removed non-violently from their occupation of that central plaza. The writer argued that the American media got the story wrong at the time, and has never been willing to correct the mistake, and he provided some seemingly credible evidence to back up these surprising accusations.

With such doubts having been recently raised in my mind, I read yesterday’s major New York Times article with a careful eye and noticed that the reporter was being quite cagey in saying whether deadly military force was used to clear Tiananmen Square of the protesters. He states that the peaceful demonstrators were removed and also describes the violent clashes with the military that occurred in the streets of Beijing around the same time, but never directly combines these two important details, which leaves me quite suspicious. I don’t possess the time or expertise to personally investigate the facts of that distant historical event, but I have a sneaking suspicion that decades of reading our major American newspapers may have led me into serious error on this matter.

It’s a sad situation when you begin to weigh the words of an anonymous Internet commenter almost as highly as you do the published accounts of the top journalists of the august New York Times.

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Comments Disabled To "American Pravda: “Liberal Bias”"

#1 Comment By Richard W. Bray On June 5, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

The media, particularly the New York/DC media, has a Goldilocks bias–the one in the middle is always best whether it makes any sense or not. For example, the following quote by super-centrist William S. Cohen betrays an absurd, arrogant, imperialist misunderstanding of human nature:

*We have to be forward deployed in Europe and in Asia in order to shape people’s opinions about us in ways that are favorable to us. To shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security. And we can do that when people see us, they see our power, they see our professionalism, they see our patriotism, and they say that’s a country we want to be with. So we are shaping events on a daily basis in ways that are favorable to our interests. You can only do that if you’re forward deployed.*

(See Andrew Bacevich, Washington Rules, page 148)

But the Washington scribes don’t call out our emperors for having no clothes because that would require calling themselves out.

#2 Comment By david robbins tien On June 5, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

Concerning the 1989 Tiananmen Square events, or ” June 4th Incident”, as it’s known in Chinese: Careful compilations by an organization of family members of people killed at that time, as well as independent investigations and analysis of hospital records by non-government persons and organizations in China, have concluded that approximately 300-400 civilians, at most, died in Beijing as a result of the government suppression of the demonstrations. The largest number were killed a few miles from Tiananmen in an area in western Beijing known as Muxidi. Very few of those killed were protesting students, and none in Tiananmen itself. There is no question that some of the violence occurred after demonstrators attacked (and killed) soldiers trying to make their way to Tiananmen, or forcibly blocked the way.
Were the White House, Congress and the U.S. Government to be paralyzed by unauthorized mass demonstrations that went on for weeks, do you think the U.S. Government would use force to suppress the demonstrators, particularly if they became violent? It is pretty clear, in hindsight, that China as a whole benefited from the restoration of order that followed the June 4th events. A tragedy nonetheless, but its greatest legacy is a propaganda tool for the U.S. to use shape U.S. domestic opinion toward China.

#3 Comment By EngineerScotty On June 5, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Were the allegations referenced above true–that the US media exaggerated (or invented) the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square–how would this square with a “liberal bias” exactly? In 1989, China was still a practicing Communist state (as opposed to a crony capitalist state which resembles the end of Animal Farm, with the farmers and pigs dividing the spoils); communism was still perceived as a threat to the US (even though the Soviet Union was in its death throes), and it was conservatives fond of waving the bloody shirt against the red menace. Liberals in the 1980s were widely perceived (by conservatives) as being sympathetic to communism; were the US media to have had a liberal bias, wouldn’t it have engaged in whitewashing Tienanmen rather than exaggerating it?

As far as who is correct–we may never truly know. All the primary source materials are in the hands of the Chinese, who were quick to hustle the Western media away from the scene.

And one other, larger, point: Pravda was (and CCTV and Xinhua are today) state-run news organizations in societies where dissenting opinions were discouraged or outright persecuted. Whatever you think of the New York Times, it is a private entity operating in a country with a long tradition of freedom of speech; one that frequently criticizes the government (including liberal administrations) and there are plenty of media outlets offering dissenting opinions and alternate sympathies (FOX News being the most notorious example). Furthermore, while the Times enjoys unofficial status as Americas “newspaper of record”; it’s direct reach is limited to a) New Yorkers, and b) elite news consumers outside the New York market; your average American living in Peoria likely never reads the Times. The critics of the paper, on the right and the left both, exaggerate its importance. Likewise for the Washington Post–which (unlike the Times) has significantly deteriorated in quality over the years, and has gone from an ardent critic of government to a frequent apologist for it (particularly for the invasion and occupation of other states).

Comparing the Times, or Fox, or any other singular American media organization, to Pravda, is ridiculous–they simply are not the same thing. Comparing the entirity of American news to Pravda is likewise ridiculous, because American media is not a monolith.

#4 Comment By andrew On June 5, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

On the question of Tiananmen Square, I found this article last night, written a year after the massacre in The Nation. The writer seems credible, claims to be one of the last western journalists to leave the Square the night the army cleared it of students. He says that it is dangerous to claim that students were killed, because it allows the Chinese regime to cover up killings they did outside of the Square with the truth that they did not kill students.

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#5 Comment By TomB On June 5, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

Ron Unz wrote:

“Many will certainly ignore the issue, or else try to force the discussion into the meaningless convention of ideologically partisan Left/Right debates. ”

Oh, let’s face it Mr. Unz, as regards not only the massive instances of blindness or bias that you brought up originally but all the other ones, where same did not just simply occur because of the media’s terrible superficiality (failing to spot Bernie Madoff for instance, or the mortgage bubble or etc.), on overwhelming balance the rest *have been* the result of either a general liberal/Leftish bias ont the part of the media or, trumping that when necessary, is its partisan (Democratic) bias.

I of course realize that *not* putting it this way may well have contributed to the attention your original piece got. (Although that in and of itself is some sort of evidence I think. I.e. “Don’t identify us accurately and sure we’ll give your effusions some coverage.”)

But even moreso I’d argue was the undeniable instances of massive superficiality/bias that you raised, and the elegance of your treatment of same. (Not to mention your name being known out there and your reputation and etc. And what might be seen as the Atlantic magazine’s either broad-minded or affirmative action hiring of non-partisan non-Lefty Conor Friedersdorf whose piece covering yours was the huge shot in the arm here.)

In defending my point that in the main the major media bungles have resulted either from lack of sophistication, a general liberal/Leftish bias or a partisan Democratic bias I suppose I could go on at huge length documenting some of same.

That, for instance (and damningly), few journalists have any education in any of the “hard” social sciences like economics or business, and so couldn’t tell a tulip bubble if it hit them in the face much less ferret out an Enron or Bernie Madoff.

That, to stick with the same issue, all they do seem to know is that when times are bad and Republicans are in office, the homeless number in the zillions, but that when there’s a Democrat in the White House and times are bad, well there’s other things to cover besides the economy. And as to everything else, except where their partisan Democratic bias trumps it, all of what else is fit to print depends on how it scores on the liberal/Left scale of Politically Correct importance.

(And as to the media’s recent falling down on critically reporting in the runup to the Iraq War I would submit that this is an example of how its Democratic partisanship does trump its liberal/Leftish bias. Largely because of the Israeli lobby and its massive influence over it the Democrats at worst essentially sat on their hands as that war was pushed, and, predictably enough then, so did the media.)

But of course this isn’t the place to go over all of recent history and thus I’d just ask anyone—including you Mr. Unz—if you indeed *don’t* agree that a massive amount of the media’s Pravda-like behavior is *not* the result of either a general liberal/Leftish bias or Democratic partisanship … then what cause *do* you ascribe to that Pravda-like behavior that you so wonderfully described?

To me at least, of *course* so much of it is ideological/partisan: Political matters have, after all, been the very *nature* of the kind of stories that we are talking about here that have been missed or mangled. What incredibly coincidental kind of thing *could* possibly account for that missing or mangling? The record of which—perhaps most conspicuously starting with the cheerleading for FDR—goes back such a long long way now, and so massively missing or mangling in the same ideological or partisan direction?

#6 Comment By CharleyCarp On June 5, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

I agree with you ES that complaints about the liberal media are usually silly, and always tiresome. My least favorite among the genre is ‘if Bush was doing X, the New York Times would be screaming bloody murder’ which tells me basically nothing: is X good, bad, going to work, likely to fail, illegal, immoral, what? Instead of X, you want to talk about the NYT, really? Or whether supporters of Obama are hypocrites? People engaging in either side of that discussion are getting exactly the media they deserve.

That said, Conor F’s explanations for how modern media falls short are mostly important points.

And, as a non-journalist, the notion that some guy writing on the internet is more reliable than a major media corporation isn’t shocking at all — provided the guy has integrity, some judgment, and the ability to look a little deeper, not to find a pre-set narrative, but the find out what is going on. Maybe 1% of people writing on the internet, but on any topic, you can usually find someone better than your average journalist.

#7 Comment By gk987 On June 5, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

…In 2009, James Miles, who was the BBC correspondent in Beijing at the time, admitted that he had “conveyed the wrong impression” and that “there was no massacre on Tiananmen Square. Protesters who were still in the square when the army reached it were allowed to leave after negotiations with martial law troops [ …] There was no Tiananmen Square massacre, but there was a Beijing massacre”.

Telegraph (UK)
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Columbia Journalism Review
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#8 Comment By balconesfault On June 5, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

Does Tom B really believe that the media has failed to cover the economy, and the unemployment rate, over the last 4 1/2 years?

That is a rather amazing assertion, given the stories and articles I’ve watched and read over that time.

It always seems to me that by and large, the media is corporate-driven and profit seeking. Which means increasingly that entertainment news takes precedence over more boring coverage of issues; that care is taken to not publish/air anything overly offensive to key advertisers; that the predominant current journalistic ethos of “balance” (at least outside the network that advertises itself as ‘fair and balanced’) dictates that partisans on both sides get unfiltered transmission – leading their supporters to think that the media is biased by not filtering the opposition; that economic issues are covered with a decided bias towards the interests of those key advertisers; and that there is a tendency towards social liberalism, because:
(a) social liberalism sells a LOT better than social conservatism in the marketplace (note the products of Rupert Murdoch’s Entertainment Division), and
(b) key advertisers by and large prefer to stay out of battles over social issues, or actually prefer the encouragement of social liberalism (see (a))

#9 Comment By philadelphialawyer On June 5, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

‘For example, Peter Sterne of The New York Observer noted the Atlantic piece in his Tuesday column, but summarized my original article as arguing that “liberal bias” was the root of our media problems. Just consider that one of my central examples had been the case of New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg, whose shocking charges against the Nixon Administration have for decades been totally ignored by the American media. Does Sterne really believe that Schanberg is a rightwing talking-head on FoxNews and Richard Nixon a great hero of the liberal-left?’

Fairly disingenuous. For years, the claim of POWs left in SE Asia. which is what you are linking to, has been an extreme, fringe right wing meme. And, in popular culture, it is associated with the likes of Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone. Hardly liberals.

It’s not that Nixon was a liberal, much less a leftist, or a hero to either group. Or that Sterne mistakenly thinks so, or doesn’t understand that Nixon was indicted in the work you cited. You know better. It is that the POW claim is predominantly (despite Schanberg’s involvement) a right wing issue. And that its supporters condemn the entire Washington establishment (not just Nixon, but Kerry too, among others) from a “we let the service men down/stab in the back” perspective. Which, again, is hardly a liberal viewpoint.

Your claim that the POW argument has been given short shrift by the mainstream press thus can legitimately be seen as you making the standard “liberal bias” argument. Liberals don’t believe the Rambo story. Nixon or no Nixon. At least some right wingers do. You pushing the story, and castigating the media for not highlighting it, sounds like you are adopting the now standard conservative critique of the “liberal” press. Which, obviously, is what Sterne of the Observer was reacting to.

What is more, is that you know all of this. Why, if you want credibility, would you make such a transparently bogus argument?

#10 Comment By Ron Unz On June 5, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

TomB:

I normally don’t participate in comment-threads, since responding to one item might obligate me to respond to additional ones as well. But TomB is a frequent and thoughtful commenter here and he raises an important issue, so I’ll make a special exception in this particular case.

I really was being quite sincere in my statement that I saw almost none of these huge and ignored scandals as having anything to do with the traditional Left/Right ideological fault lines. And that would certainly include the three or four at the end that I’m hoping the media might now finally decide to notice. I think the only major exception would be the “Communist Spies” with which I opened my article, whose non-coverage obviously did and does have a clear ideological skew.

If TomB or anyone else claims that most of my other scandals do have liberal roots, he really should list them and explain why they clearly fall into the Left agenda, which escapes me. For example, according to Sibel Edmonds senior American government officials were selling our nuclear weapons secrets for cash to foreign spies, and this hardly seems part of the ACLU playbook (indeed Edmonds won some sort of ACLU award for her whistleblowing). The corrupt officials involved were apparently Democrats working under Clinton, but they were later protected by their friends, who were Republicans working under Bush.

Admittedly, about 95% of the American media skews liberal, so denouncing the American media as incompetent or corrupt necessarily means you’re mostly denouncing liberals. But FoxNews contributes its own share and anyway I just don’t see an ideological factor at work.

I’m certainly not denying there may be other media scandals with a clear ideological tinge. For example, in the past I’ve expressed my skepticism over Global Warming, and if that’s indeed a hoax promoted by the media, ideology would certainly play a role. But since I’m not at all convinced of the true facts one way or the other, I really can’t use that example: [13]

I’d be the first to admit that liberalism is wrong about all sorts of things and has promoted many harmful policies over the decades (though I’d probably say the same about modern conservatism). But I just don’t see much connection with the topics in my American Pravda article.

#11 Comment By EngineerScotty On June 6, 2013 @ 1:41 am

Ron,

When the title of the post is “American Pravda: Liberal Bias“, you shouldn’t be surprised when the text is viewed and criticized through that lens.

One problem with criticisms of the “liberal media” is that many focus on the word “liberal”, without going into much detail as to what it means. Certainly, much of the mainstream press is culturally and socially liberal. On the other hand, the press tends to be more conservative on economic issues–the mainstream media is almost uniformly hostile to labor unions, engages in inappropriate levels of deficit panic, regularly indulges in government-is-bad memes, and (particularly within the Beltway) is always eager to march off to war. (Or to be more precise, to send our sons and daughters marching off to war–the pundits who advocate for such seldom go there themselves).

#12 Comment By TomB On June 6, 2013 @ 2:00 am

Hello Mr. Unz, and may I say that the last thing you need to do is affirm the sincerity of the perspective you have about the sub-issue between us. (With me fully agreeing about the main issue of media bungling.) In raising the big issue originally you talked perceptively about how integrity and credibility is a capital good, and I believe that one of the reasons your original piece gained the attention it did is because your stock in that capital is just something that commands attention and the proper perspective is to recognize just how unbelievably rare that is today. Indeed, as tragic as it is for our country, it’s difficult off-hand to think of many others about whom that can be said.

Moreover I would acknowledge that there’s at least some good reasons for a different perspective than mine on our sub-issue of media motivation for the bungling that’s been seen: As I said I’m not being monocausal here and think instead that there’s somewhat of a hierarchy of causes for the sort of media blindnesses and biases at work that confuses things. And thus for instance I agree that you often can’t blame some liberal/Leftist or partisan (Democratic) bias for some of same because one of those causes is just a shocking superficiality of our media as regards some issues, such as many business/financial matters. I thus don’t think the Madoff blindness, nor the Enron blindness, nor any of a number of such blindnesses stems from a liberal/Leftist agenda nor some partisan Democratic intent. It’s just … self-inflicted ignorance.

And then too there’s the certainly related phenomenon of the news business feeling the pressure to just be part of the entertainment business, and in this regard I can only say that I think Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves To Death” will come to be regarded as a great great book in the future for the devastating case it makes out for that.

Plus I would acknowledge that things can otherwise get further confusing because among the other causes for massive media failures some will trump and thus merely *appear* to belie others. As I said, while I think there’s a default liberal/Left bias that causes many failures, what often trumps that is when this conflicts with the media’s partisan Democrat bias. Thus for instance, while the media may well get near apoplectic about Guantanamo under Mr. Bush, when Mr. Obama violates his own pledge and keeps it open it’s apparently enough for them to hear him say that he really really wants to close it deep in his heart, and yet keeps it humming for all these years. And in this vein for want of reporting on the matter I don’t even know whether or not Mr. Obama has continued the “foreign renditions” that so exercised our journalists’ minds under Bush, and would bet that the CIA does indeed still run prisons in some foreign countries.

And I would add I think there’s some other causes too in that hierarchy that can further complicate things, such as the media bias against reporting on things that reflect poorly on itself.

Thus no doubt there is room for confusion, but it was you yourself who admitted that 95% of our journalists bend liberal/Leftish, and who thus seems to me to be in the position of saying that while that’s true, somehow (and rather miraculously), all that is also immaterial if not totally irrelevant.

And I would further note that in fact you didn’t address my question which was—given the wonderful, inarguable, scorched-earth nature of your review of the media—what causes *you* perceive causing its blunders if it is indeed something *other* than lots of either self-serving, ideological or partisan Democrat bias?

As regards your suggestion of a need to lay out the history that I think supports my perspective I am sorely tempted to take advantage of what is no doubt your overly-generously phrased invitation to do so and thus take up 1/2 the bandwith you are paying for in a year doing so. But of course any even modest review of the issue is deserving of some book-length treatment, and while I’m sure there’s books out there about it I unfortunately know of none that aren’t just stridently monocausal, excessively partisan in their own right, self-righteous and etc. that makes me not want to be citing them.

But I will say that I think you can go all the way back to, say, Walter Duranty and his coverage of the Soviet Union to start off with a bang accusing liberal/Left bias as a main offender of what we are talking about, and for that matter I can’t see how you so devastatingly (and wonderfully) talk about just how penetrated our government was by Soviet agents or fellow-travelers and just how sneeringly dismissed this incredible truth was in the media, and yet ascribe it to something *other* than either a liberal/Left bias, and/or a partisan defending of FDR and Truman under whose administrations so little was done about same.

And need I really mention the cosmic blatancy with which the media savagely attacked Richard Nixon for some matters that were of just such a relative misdemeanor nature when compared with what the media either knew or could easily have found out about with FDR or the Kennedy brothers? FDR used the FBI just simply *mercilessly* in attacking his political foes. And … JFK sharing a bimbo with Sam Giancana and yet we saw the media casting dark shadows over Nixon’s mere friendship with Bebe Rebozo? With sainted old good-government lover Ben Bradlee seeing nothing wrong with his friend JFK but of course not liking Nixon out of his love for country…? And on and on as regards *that* history. (A case where there was a total convergence of the media’s liberal/Left bias, and its partisan Democrat bias, so resulting in that unbounded carnival of savagery. Not that this says anything much *for* Nixon, I would hastily add.)

Obviously I could go on and on—perhaps next even following on comparing the media’s attitude toward’s Nixon’s sins and then its curious lack of concern over the clear felony perjury committed by Mr. Clinton, but there is that question of bandwith and so I’ll try to stop by addressing that curious case of Sibel Edmunds that you so perceptively brought up. And while absolutely agreeing with you that the media buried this just about as deep as possible this is yet another instance in which I think the competing impulses in that causal hierarchy I talked about offers the explanation.

As you note “according to Sibel Edmonds senior American government officials were selling our nuclear weapons secrets for cash to foreign spies, and this hardly seems part of the ACLU playbook,” and indeed it does not. But, I believe the answer involves, *which* “foreign spies”?

As that Phil Giraldi piece you cited on Ms. Edmunds lays out, it really involved her claims of gross political corruption if not actual spying in our government *in connection with the activities of Turkish and Israeli front-groups/lobbies.*

And indeed, as Phil said about the former, “most notably the American Turkish Council [which was] founded in 1994 and modeled on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. [] Edmonds refers to ATC and AIPAC as ‘sister organizations” [and indeed] [t]he group’s founders include a number of prominent Americans involved in the Israel-Turkey relationship, notably Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and former congressman Stephen Solarz.”

And thus here, I believe, is the answer to why Sibel Edmunds story was just never given any media traction. Forgetting even the large representation of jewish media ownership, by and large the cause of Israel really captured the liberal/Left imagination for a long long time, although that has, quite recently, been seeing some significant dilution. But then you also have the reality that the media knows that whenever it writes anything perceived as hostile to Israel it will come in for the most withering of hostilities, and hence my belief is that this explains at the very least why a different order of credibility was required of Sibel Edmunds than normal, a level the media conveniently felt she never quite reached.

I don’t mean here to be ascribing any devious jewish control to the media, but I do just think that its coverage of issues involving that State can hardly be held up as even-handed with others. For instance I think it’s not even much disputed anymore that Israel filched U.S. secrets and materiel in obtaining its nuclear weaponry, and then even worse and rather more recently even sold some of the weaponry that we gave to it to the Chinese. And yet if one relied on the major media to hear of this one would likely be totally bereft of any knowledge of same whatsoever. And the same might even be said of the incredible amounts of money we send to Israel every year, and any number of other sub-issues, perhaps including the U.S.S. Liberty affair, and what can seem the utter lack of care in our media over the Israeli bulldozing of that one American citizen Rachel Corrie, and the more recent shooting in the head of that other young Turkish-American aboard that ship that tried to run Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Plus of course much of what Ms. Edmunds was alleging occurred under Mr. Clinton, and if I’m not mistaken particularly accused some prominent jewish Democrat in Mr. Clinton’s government of being involved in the shenanigans involving those Turkish/Israeli groups.

I thus remain pretty confident of my perception of the causes of what you have diagnosed, Mr. Unz, but will be the first to say that if there is any hope of improvement the very first step will be to establish that the problem exists which of course means an unbounded appreciation for your piece in the first place.

Like I said, it may indeed be one of the greater tragedies of our very recent times that so very few individuals have managed to retain their stock of integrity and credibility to be listened to above all the incessant yelling and slandering that we endure. And so I trust that my disagreement with you here is seen in the proper context of not even microscopically detracting from the regard with which I think you are owed for your possession and retention of that capital.

#13 Comment By spite On June 6, 2013 @ 8:12 am

Its very simple, pretend that a Tea Party demonstration got violent in America, I have zero doubt that the liberal press would be fully be behind the exact same behaviour that the CCP did in Tiananmen. I don’t have a problem with bias, the problem is when bias is presented as irrefutable objective fact.

#14 Comment By Chris 1 On June 6, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

This is a deep issue, cutting as it does to the core of the difference between what we think we know and what we actually know.

What’s true of most human beings is that we consider what we actually know in light of what we think we know, not the other way around. (Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes understood this, and thus fashioned Ronald Reagan as the “great communicator” despite repeated factual errors that drove liberals, who thought facts were more important than narrative, crazy.)

For example: The sun rises but we consider that within the scope of what we think we know of the universe and creation…it is extremely hard for us to separate what we know from how it fits in what we think we know.

Reporters evidence this problem raised to a more serious problem because their work effects how we perceive reality.

Reporters are striving to tell us what they consider to be the true story of an event or situation, but in deciding what is important to that story and what is not they can err in significant manners.

So…in reporting the Chinese government’s crackdown on protesters which resulted in hundreds of death, is it critical to the narrative of a brutal regime quashing dissent to differentiate specific locales of events to a reader/listener/watcher who as often as not is unable locate the Rocky Mountains on a map of the United States?

That’s not a justification, but rather a way of understanding the problem.

In getting all the facts quite literally true it is possible to lose sight of the narrative, and vice-versa.

The real problem for “American Pravda” has to do with an unwillingness to acknowledge those factual errors, slights and omissions because they undermine the narrative to which one has committed.

“Everyone knew” that Saddam had WMDs, and so facts that called that conclusion into question were minimized while commentary that reinforced that conclusion was amplified. “Everyone knew” that McCarthy was engaged in a witch hunt, a perception that the Senator and Roy Cohn did nothing to dispel, and thus they became the problem and the facts they turned up became collateral damage. (I daresay, Daryll Issa is on track to render any and all facts turned up by his committee null and void with his grandstanding on behalf of his own narrative.)

But the real problem is that facts don’t drive narratives, our beliefs do, and we conform facts to those narratives no matter who we are or what we believe.

To reduce this to “liberal” or “conservative” is to miss what is altogether too human.

#15 Comment By Titanium Dragon On October 17, 2013 @ 5:30 am

Regarding the issue of the protests in China:

The problem is that you’re not understanding the situation. The major clashes occurred outside of the square, but several hundred people certainly died in an attempt to prevent the military from moving in and clearing the square. The violence was indeed connected. However, the bulk of the killings occurred outside of the square. The Chinese Red Cross originally gave an estimate of 2,600, but goodness knows how realistic that was; diplomats there at the time gave pretty varied estimates. The Chinese themselves gave the number as “about 300” and 241 at various times, which should be regarded as low estimates, while the high estimates go quite high.

Unfortunately that wasn’t all that happened, as there was a subsequent crackdown as well, which may well have affected far more people than died on the day of the event.