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I have my own definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" that I use. I've written about it before:
Things I Know
Conservatives and liberals see the world in two fundamentally different ways. One, the conservative, in a very two dimensional way. There is a right and wrong and we know what is right and we know what is wrong. The other, the liberal, lives in a world of constant reassessment. Right and wrong are a matter of perspective, subject to evidence. The conservative draws his conclusions based on what he "knows", this usually means he goes with what is familiar, or traditional. The liberal is constantly looking for new ways to see the world and measuring up tradition versus inquiry. Right and wrong are subject to further testing.
Too many people think that being a liberal or being a conservative is simply about a set of policy issues; pro-life, big government, civil rights, etc.
Is the Media Liberal? -- My Thoughts from February of 2004.
So is the media liberal damnit? I don't know. When I watch news programs I see a bias but I would not go so far to call it liberal. I see it as sensationalism mixed with journalistic "professionalism"; a strange system of "rules of behavior". For the most part I see the claims that the media leans liberal as an attempt by the GOP to shame the news media into giving their viewpoints and appointed mouthpieces favorable treatment, even to the point of letting them promote specious claims. This was evident during the buildup to the war where Bush Administration claims were constantly given air to the point of building a consensus for invasion where none existed prior. The voices that have since been proven right existed but were drowned out by the stampede of official propaganda.
My current thoughts on the issue are that journalism, the search for truth through observation and deduction, is a liberal pursuit, but that the "media" institutions are not idealogically oriented. Most media, especially TV networks are owned by large corporate interests, GE, Disney, etc, that are in the business of attracting viewers so that they can sell advertisements. They have a vested interest in catering to the conventional wisdom and appealing to people with money and power.
Many point to the individual views of journalists as proof of the media's liberal slant. Oft quoted is a study that found that the majority of the reporters in the media support liberal issues and vote Democratic. But is this sufficient to prove that the "Media" is liberal in its slant? I'm not so sure. To assume so ignores the power of institutions and their intended purposes.
Television media in particular is very illiberal when it deals with corporate power and religious issues, preferring to avoid these topics to protect their own interests on the one hand and to keep from alienating viewers on the other.
The media can only be liberal to the extent that it helps ratings. The conventional wisdom was that news programs gained viewers by being more accurate and "probing", but that's not necesarily true anymore when news networks are created to cater to a certain demographic and seek to present news in a way that appeals to the idealogical bias of their target market.
(Last night I rented Dodgeball and watched the feature plus I listened to the commentary by the writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber. What I found most interesting was the original (alternate) ending of the movie (spoilers ahead...) that had the Average Joe's losing in the end. The theatrical version has the Average Joe's winning and Peter Lefluer getting his gym back. The ending was changed because the studio tested the original and people didn't like it. They wanted the good guys to win in the end. The intent of the writer was subserved to the demands of commercial viability.)
The limits to liberalism are that you sometimes fail to come to conclusive answers. There is only so far that you can go with observation and deduction. Some people find that lacking and seek greater answers that can only be found through "faith".
Liberalism also tends to challenge the conventional wisdom of the day; such notions that used to be accepted as "true"; the divine wisdom of kings, the infallibilty of the church, the moral superiority of a given race, culture, nation, etc.. and much of what we are tought to be true by our parents.
People naturally seek the assurances of what they know to be true and many of our tribal connections come from those shared beliefs. Being a liberal can be very isolating and people get kinda pissed when you start asking questions that make them uncomfortable. But it can be rewarding in its own way, things make a lot more sense and there are fewer contridictions.
Buts its not just about being right or wrong.
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