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Why is the Media So Liberally Biased?

media bias 2Why is the media so liberally biased?

You might say, “It’s not liberally biased.”

In which case I imagine that you are left leaning and quite content with a sweeping bias that snuggles so nicely into your own perception of the world… and you are unlikely to be reading my blog.

You might say, “It’s because the ideology of left leaning people makes them partial to mass media type of work.” Or “Many years ago the socialist and communist groups mapped out a long range plan to assume power, and controlling the media, and, thus, the general flow of information to the masses was a fundamental part of that plan.”

I would then say, “Yes, both are true.” Certain types of people are naturally attracted to certain types of work, and the freedom of social movement afforded by our founding principles has, thus far, permitted most people to gravitate where they will. And, yes, control over the media was an important part of century old plans for a socialist take over… that along with political seats and educational institutions.

There is something else to it in addition to this, however. It has to do with the combination of the economics of interest and attention span and the limitations of media medium.

People by nature are scared, limited in knowledge and wisdom, emotional, and prone to take the path of least resistance, easy attainment, and shortest route. People want solutions to what bothers them and tend not to weigh or understand the long term consequences of their attempts at solutions.

People want slogans and quick answers and tend to pay attention to people that provide them.

I regard most of the political/social/economic chatter that I hear as if it were colorful little jimmies on an ice-cream cone. Oooooooo… Jimmies! Left leaning discussion thrives by keeping the discussion at that level. They win on slogans and emotionalism… something the medium of media is particularly good at capturing, and that the natural interests and attention spans of most favor.

Even conservative talk show hosts rarely carry on their discussion on a level any deeper than the ice-cream upon which all the colorful Jimmies sit. Oooooo…. Jimmies!

The truth about political, social and economic events, however, resides in the soil that grew the plants that fed the cows that produced the dairy that became the ice-cream upon which the world sprinkled Jimmies. Oooooooo…. Jimmies!

Let’s consider rent control as an example. [1]

Rent control, sounds great. Poor people have the government intervene on their behalf with property owners in order to keep rents cheap.

What could go wrong?

Well…. the entire history of economics the world over, wherever rent control has been used suggests that a lot can go wrong, and always does.

Step #1: Poor people who already have apartments rejoice and politicians celebrate, pat themselves on the back, and get re-elected based on their compassion for the poor.

Step #2: General costs rise, but property owners can’t meet these costs doing business as usual because they can’t raise rents to meet those costs. They begin to cut corners on upkeep.

Step #3: property quality begins to fall and people stop investing in rental property because there is no money to be made in it.

Step #4: As costs continue to rise and rental properties continue to degenerate, property owners, who have cut as many corners as they can to stay in business, begin to give up on being landlords. They either sell their properties or abandon them to the banks… both of which reduces the amount of rental property available to the general public, causing housing shortages and hurting the poor. Those who have apartments are sitting pretty in places that are aging without refurbishment, but those who attempt to push their way into the community are out of luck. Homelessness rises.

Step #5: Politicians begin to champion the need to intervene in the housing crisis which they caused by raising taxes and building housing for the poor on the public dime. They get re-elected again based on their concern for the poor.

How does one capture such realities in the five to ten seconds of interest and attention that a media event usually has to make a point? This type of discussion requires long documentaries, lectures, books, years of careful observation of real cause and effect in the world… and, frankly, who has time for those?

Media can capture the pitiful faces of men being led to execution but weren’t there to film those same faces wearing a mask of rage or demonic glee when they murdered their victims. It can’t capture in seconds the aftermath of ruin created in the lives of their victim’s loved ones. This kind of stuff takes too much time, demands too much attention.

The media can film in seconds the deplorable conditions of American Ghettos, but they were not there to film the thousands of choices that each of these people made over many decades to create this environment, the responses that each gave to life’s challenges and temptations that prevented their escape. They don’t film the wasted opportunities. No… they paste up a slogan—”Blaming the Victim”—which is so much easier than tracking the arduous journey of personal responsibility.

It’s easy to paste up a slogan that suggests that the poor are victims of the rich… after all these look so pitiful on camera and those others look so good with their nice haircuts, fancy cars, great clothes… why it must be true—The rich are rich because they stole from the poor.

Just so the camera captures the enviable images of wealth, throw up unsympathetic spoiled poster children of privilege, but do not capture the thousands of choices that their parents made to achieve this “privilege.” It takes too much time to explain the principles of wealth creation, too much time-lapse photography is needed to track the labor, sacrifices, wisdom and knowledge needed to sustain wealth. If these had advantages, it was the advantage of being taught these principles at an early age.

Slogans that appeal to our more base instincts are easier. It’s easier to have an emotional response to pitiful pictures than to investigate the lengthy cause-effect relationships that are actually at work in the world.

The medium of the media is tailor made for slogans and emotional portraits and fits poorly with the more demanding and time consuming tracking of reality.

The medium of the media is tailor made for left leaning bias… so don’t fall for it. See through it. Break the cycle and learn about the real world and how it works… for this is the essence of wisdom. To discover how God made the world to function and to, thus, function well within it.


[1] Thomas Sowell’s book Economic Facts and Fallacies give a detailed validation of this discussion.

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