The Self Delusion of Broadcast News and the Danger of "Quiet" Bias

I just watched Ted Koppel on NBC with Brian Williams on NBC. The theme of their show? Cable new anchors are biased and network news anchors -- especially those of yesteryear -- are not or if they are, they don't show it. Really? Network anchors are not biased? They don't show it? They are delusional if they think that about themselves.

When broadcast networks present what they think is the all that is important in the world in the 22 minutes of a half hour news program or 44 minutes of an hour program -- it starts with its bias. When you pick and isolate what YOU think is news, you are making YOUR decision of WHAT is important and HOW to present it the viewers. That is bias.

Bias is evident by the topics they pick, the video they show, how long they show the video, the guests booked, the time given the guests, the questions asked, the correspondents hired, the graphics on the screen, the time spent on the segment, the cross promotion on other shows, how the segments are stacked, ads, promotion of the anchors, music, teases for the segments, the scripts etc. It all adds up to bias even if they have deluded themselves into thinking it does not. (By the way, print journalism is likewise biased even though they too deny it. You see it not only with the text of the report but bias is evident by such things as where the news organizations places the story (front page? above the fold?) and what picture might be attached to it (subject sneering or smiling?).

Just because one might agree with the bias presented, does not mean it is not bias. It is HARDER to see bias when you agree. In fact one often thinks one with whom he or she agrees is not biased.

Broadcast news people may have deluded themselves into thinking that they are pure because they often show no passion in their voices or volume in the talk. A modulated voice and soft volume does not mean no bias. It only means modulated voice and soft volume. They THINK their bias is not shown (or even that they have none) and therein lies their self delusion.

Covert bias is bias. It is harder to detect, but it is there. It can also be more treacherous to the news watcher since the news watcher when it is quiet and covert. Frankly, obvious bias may be better since it does not sneak into your psyche unexpectedly -- you get a better chance of picking and choosing and deciding for yourself what is right or what is not. You can compare and contrast with the obvious.

The broadcast networks have a bigger megaphone than cable and it would be smart of them to likewise look at themselves -- and skip the 'holier than thou' attitude.

The goal is to do the best you can to be fair.

What IS good is that there are so many news outlets and the viewer/reader can check out everything and compare and contrast and reach his or her own opinion. Viewers and readers are smart -- a lot smarter than some in the news media think.

What do you think? Am I wrong?

Cross-posted from GretaWire.