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Big Business's Unwitting Ally

The values of the liberal media.


by James Leroy Wilson
May 8, 2001

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Big Business's Unwitting Ally_James Leroy Wilson-The values of the liberal media. Harry Browne's point was brilliant. It was in regard to the denials of the right-wing's complaint of the "liberal media." The objection during the Clinton years had always been, how can the media have a liberal bias when it constantly reported on the Democratic President's scandals?

Browne contended that it was on matters of policy, not the personal foibles, that the media was giving Clinton a free pass. On matters of policy, the media would let Clinton speak his mind, even if he would contradict himself in the very same interview. They never questioned Clinton's description of the Bush (I) economy as the "worst in fifty years." They uncritically bought the Clinton charge that the Reagan deficits were caused by tax cuts, not excessive spending. And so on.

Browne wrote his comments in 1993.

In contrast, criticism of President Bush's (II) policies is plain to see. His fiscal, energy, environmental, and defense policies have all been questioned, analyzed, and debated in the press. This is fair. But outside of conservative columnists and magazines, a similar scrutiny of Clinton's proposals by the "objective media" was lacking.

Other observers, I think in the National Review (partial observers don't have time to quote and cite with precision) acknowledge that such bias, which is a bias toward central government, is the result of the media's desire for Washington to be the center of attention. It's natural; why travel to Milwaukee to examine welfare reform, or Houston to check out education reform, when broad new proposals can originate from Washington? Any party, then, which prefers state- and locally-based initiatives in social policy is in essence, hostile to Washington. But if Washington's influence in the national life is minimal, then the media will have to diversify instead of having a concentrated focus. For the media, central government is just plain easier.

I don't disagree with this assessment, but I think there's more. The media is composed of journalists and artists (charitably calling all entertainers artists). And what do they do? They describe the human condition. And what is the blanket word for those who presume to describe the human condition? Intellectuals. With their inclusion in the intellectual class, they rank themselves with teachers, professors, pastors, doctors, scientists, and lawyers. And the "intellectual class" has a particular antipathy toward the "business class," the entrepreneurs and financiers who allocate capital.

It is not that everyone in the intellectual class believes they're brighter and more talented than businessmen (although most do), the resentment is mainly moral: the pursuits of beauty, truth, and justice are considered more worthy than the pursuit of prosperity. That most entrepreneurs make more than most intellectuals is therefore unjust and they should be forced to pay. Further, they should be swamped with mounds of paperwork to prove that they never violate a single federal regulation. Businessmen, in short, have what's coming to them. There is class warfare in America, but it isn't rich vs. poor. It is about bright but undisciplined and disorganized people - the intellectual class - vs. the business class. For the dominant intellectuals in academe, entertainment, journalism, and liberal religion, all of morality is politicized, with the sole purpose of redistributing wealth to benefit "the poor" and, yes, themselves.

The irony is that most media in America is controlled by for-profit corporations. Dan Patrick, Drew Carey, and Dennis Miller get paychecks from the same corporation that Sam Donaldson does. Bugs Bunny and Time magazine make money for the same people. Even so, the profitability of sports and entertainment does not allow for subsidy of the news division, which itself is expected to turn a profit. Commercial advertising has long been part of the journalistic landscape.

I suspect that the whole system is not entirely to the dissatisfaction of many corporations, which subsidize journalists who report against tax and environmental policies that would benefit their very own bosses. The purpose is to get the entire culture: the arts, the church, the journalists, the lawyers, and the politicians, to focus on an extremely narrow view of America: the individual as a consumer, as a buyer of goods and services. The American Dream as one of acquisition. The leftist version of "social justice" is two-fold: ridding society of institutions that have been traditional fonts of hierarchy and discrimination such as the church and local government, and giving more people an unalienable right to more buying power. Essentially, this means that all values except consumerism are out the window.

Over the long term, I suspect that corporations don't mind the occasional tax-and-spend administration, excessive regulation, and demagoguery directed against themselves. Exalting the self - what about MY needs, MY self-esteem, MY rights - helps because it creates ambitious people, ambition meaning seeking better pay. The sexual revolution helped - to get sex, you have to spend money on a girl. Mocking organized religion and promoting self-centered rather than God-centered spirituality helps - better the people shop or watch TV (and commercials) because no one profits from worshipping God. Better to destroy every institution in society except, of course, the one with the mint. Whatever successfully propagates the lie that human life is about getting stuff will, in the long run, pay off for the producers of stuff. By promoting an individualist and materialist world-view, the liberal media is Corporate America's unwitting ally.

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