I had subscribed to the feeds of both Media Matters and News Busters for a while. These sites purported to document mainstream media bias, from a conservative or liberal angle, respectively. I’ve dropped them both. Why? At the very least, they cancel each other out. But recent posts on each site illustrated the impossibility of “impartially” tracking the bias of the media. I found a particularly clarifying example.
First, what are these sites:
Media Matters (Liberals watchdogging the conservative media)
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. (source) [emphasis mine]
News Busters (Conservatives watchdogging the liberal media)
NewsBusters [is] a project of the Media Research Center, the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias. The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance to the news media. (source and source) [emphasis mine]
I’m neither “liberal” nor “conservative,” but I do have a healthy distrust of the MSM for a number of reasons. (Have you seen the MSM fairly and accurately cover any Libertarian campaigns or events recently?) Following these sites seemed natural to me. But I’m now convinced that Media Matters and News Busters are seeing what they want to see, whether it’s there or not.
Whether or not the MSM does in fact have a bias is not the issue. The issue is that Media Matters and News Busters are both completely incapable of determining whether such a bias does or does not exist – because they have their own bias on the matter. They can not accurately and impartially observe any bias in the MSM because their own bias clouds their judgement.
Each site will routinely post a dozen or more stories each day, “documenting” various examples of liberal or conservative bias of the MSM. This naturally begs the question – how can both sites have such a wealth of examples to draw from? If one is right, then by definition the other is wrong.
However, they can both be wrong.
The example that made this perfectly clear happened a few days ago, on May 22. As it happened, each site made a post, only minutes apart, where the target was the same person – Chris Matthews.
Yes, on the same day and at the same time, Media Matters cited Chris Matthews for having a conservative bias, and New Busters cited him for having a liberal bias.
News Busters on Mon, May 22, 2006 at 7:34pm EST:
I had each of the stories in different tabs in my browser for a few minutes, switching back and forth, reading the comments, marveling at the beautiful irony of the timing. This example discredits both sites entirely, as well as discredits the notion of the MSM having an obvious liberal or conservative bias.
I do give Media Matter a bit more credit over News Busters in general. Media Matters had always been much more thorough in documenting the “examples” and they generally let the examples speak for themselves. News Busters had a lot more commentary like, “This is the profoundly negative view of America harbored by Matthews. One suspects it is a view shared by many in the MSM and the Democratic party.”
I have unsubscribed from both feeds and am no longer wasting my time on their sites.
One thing is obvious, however. The MSM does have an anti-Libertarian bias. Perhaps I should start a web site to document all the instances of the MSM’s anti-Libertarian bias.