Our "moderate" press

No, we are not referring to those journalists who report or broadcast the news. The only adjective which need define them is impartiality since they should not be reporting from either the extremes, or the center… just from that immutable place where the facts reside.

Ours is a narrower definition of press, covering only opinion-givers and news-managers. The latter a rather important group since they make the decisions as to what news we should read or hear, and also when and how they are to be presented… the why being the personal domain of the managers, their bias.

Although we continuously hear claims that America ’s press is a nest of “ liberal s” or that it is owned by “conservative” interests, either label may shortchange the reality that we have in our press, and even the freedom of such press.

There have been interpretations ad nauseam on this subject as a result of surveys, polls and even “findings” from clownishly-biased “think tanks.” Perhaps the Pew poll where press people self-identified their political inclination, and where about one-third of the respondents claimed to be “ liberal ” with the other two-thirds as “moderate,” is most apropos. We all know that in today’s political climate in this United States , moderate is the center; that is, the center of the right. America ’s materialistic self-interests preclude its people, press included, from much progressive thinking towards the home front, and absolutely none for anything beyond its borders.

So to give political moderation an interpretation as if coming from Molière… where good sense is identified as avoiding all extremes, requiring us to be soberly rational, is not the reality of the time, this early part of the 21st century; or the place, the US. A glutton gobbling down six donuts in one setting instead of eight continues to be a glutton and not a temperate person with moderate eating habits. Whether we accept it or not, ours is not a moderate but a conservative press.

At no time have the true colors of our press been more in evidence than during the past two years. From the time leading to the invasion of Iraq to this date, reading most American periodicals, or listening to the broadcast media has left us misinformed or not informed at all. Whether that happened through negligence or by design might be subject to interpretation. But it did happen. And, Americans, who by virtue of their power and influence in the world, should be the best informed, were probably among the worst informed.

When the administration in Washington found it imperative that Bush address the issue of Abu Ghraib with an apology to the Arab and Muslim peoples, it was more than symbolic how he chose which media, instead of “the press,” to transmit the message. Aljazeera, the greatly successful television super-station and first Arab medium to break the monopoly by Western media, was “punished” by Washington for what the Bush administration considered as an anti-American attitude in its approach to their broadcasts to the Arab world.

Has it occurred to Rumsfeld, or Bush, or any of these non-thinkers in government, that the Arab media may be no more biased than ours? Even if CNN is unwilling, or unable, to cover and report properly the suffering of the Arab people, shouldn’t Aljazeera and Al Arabiya be willing to do so? One would think that the Arab press would be derelict in its duty if it failed to report so.

Concentrating on the suffering of Arab people may be interpreted in the Pentagon and White House as biased reporting; but, don’t our own media report with just as much bias? As Iraqi casualties were mounting during the war at a ratio of ten Iraqis for every American, what did our television networks show? Perhaps one in ten pictures showed the pain and anguish… suffered by the Iraqis; the other nine represented our share of pain and suffering. Or, didn’t our bias translate to a ratio of 100 to 1?

A moderate press, you say?