Got Bias? Does Bill Moyers ?

I’m having a great discussion with my good pal Keith about whether Bill Moyers is “biased”.   I think Bill Moyers has become an authoritative and articulate spokesperson for the mainstream American left.   To me, that is almost the definition of bias.   I like Moyers and agree with him on many topics  (see below) but I don’t like his virulently anti-corporate & anti-republican stridency.

Wild speculation Dept:   I think Moyers’ stridency is largely an overreaction to the guilt he feels about his prominent role during the Johnson Administration as Press Secretary. There, he helped with deceptions and promotion of the many illegal US activities in Vietnam.   Ironically I think I’d  cut him a lot more slack on this than he  would now that I’ve come to realize how well regarded the USA was by most of the Vietnamese people.

What do YOU think?  What is media bias?   Glenn Beck’s and Rush Limbaugh commentary is clearly a great example of right wing bias – could anybody disagree with that?

In my view, Wikipedia is often an excellent example of media approaching an *unbiased* standard.  Typically WikiP presents a lot of facts and then a very balanced discussion of the opinions about a thing or a person.   For contentious issues (e.g. Israel stuff) they often close the page to freewheeling edits but then provide a forum for people to rant or disagree, but that’s separated from the more reasoned analysis of the pages.

Here’s an excellent bio and, IMHO, a very good example of an unbiased discussion of Mr. Bill. on Bill_Moyers

To me the article strongly supports the notion that he’s an authoritative and articulate spokesperson for the mainstream American left.   How can this not be called …  bias?   I’d agree Moyers’ views are not born of ignorant opportunistic nonsense like, say, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck’s views, but like those ignorant dudes Moyers also has strongly held opinions that seriously color his perceptions of many issues.

How does religion affect one’s world view?   My jury is still out on how much religious beliefs will color somebody’s reporting and commentary.   For a “progressive Christian” like Moyers  the world’s going to be seen very differently than for a Muslim, Buddhist, or Jew.    Is this bias and if so how does it influence reporting and commentary?

Help me out here – give examples of some biased *left wing* US commentary and why you think it’s biased.   How are you calibrating “American left and right”?

Surely we should not suggest that bias relates to agreement with OUR OWN ideas?   Don’t call me Shirley!

I would strongly agree with Bill Moyers on many topics – support for gay marriage, on promoting health and education internationally, on a progressive foreign policy, and many other things, but I share his “left bias” on those topics even as I don’t share it on economic topics.

But to me this political and economic view convergence/divergence is completely SEPARATE from the issue of bias!    I think I like the idea of folks reporting their political stances and then working to report as best as they can rather than trying to maintain the pretense of “no bias at all”.

I actually cite most of the reporting of big outlets as examples of fairly politically unbiased media reporting, though story selection leans to the superficial in all cases.

Biased outlets where there are political content constraints from above – FOX and Al Jazeera come to mind – are still pretty good on most topics.  Clearly they show some bias by *omission* of important stories.  On Fox we won’t see much favorable coverage of President Obama and on Al Jazeera we won’t tend to see a lot of negative discussion about theocracies and sharia law and abuses of power and wealth by those in power.

Fox is, to me, the definitively biased source but this is mostly in terms of the nonsense commentary from their foolish pundits like Sean Hannity.  Much of the news coverage by Anchors like Shepard Smith is actually fine in terms of reporting the facts on the ground without much political spin.

Standouts to me as “fairly non biased” reporting:
Most BBC non-UK coverage. In general the BBC seems remarkably unbiased to my way of thinking .
Charlie Rose (PBS and CBS)

Jim Lehrer (PBS)

Ray Suarez (PBS – I think he’s one of the best in the world at concealing his opinions).

FYI a huge standouts as “biased left” even as she’s one of my favorite pundits because she’s so sharp and funny is Rachel Maddow (MSNBC).

“Clearly biased right” would be Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity.
Mainstream Anchors like Brian O’Neil, Katic Couric, Anderson Cooper, etc, etc?   I don’t really like most of their reporting because I feel it’s very superficial both in coverage and topics, but I’d call them pretty politically balanced, though with the likely left of center sensibilities that are found by most studies of journalist’s political leanings.
Now,  I do maintain there is a lot of “bias” in almost all media towards “superficial but interesting” topics over “substantive” topics.
The really big global stories of our time relate to food, TB, malaria, intestinal parasites, literacy, oral rehydration therapy, etc, etc.  People grow tired of those stories quickly and won’t tolerate “too much” of that, so we get Lindsay Lohan and Obama’s Turkey Pardon.
Ommission of the simple solutions to major global suffering  is the most insidious form of bias and it infects pretty much all the news, but it’s not a conspiracy to keep the downtrodden down trodden.   We are programmed to pay more attention to stupid pet tricks and ignore distant suffering.

2 thoughts on “Got Bias? Does Bill Moyers ?

  1. They’re all biased. The MSM depends on that in a sense: the pundit-celebrity sells a product–and advertisements– whether that’s Fox or Maddow–not really amusing to me though superior to a buffoon such as Glenn Beck. As with Maddow’s schtick, Olbermann’s emotional pandering also irritates after a while, though his message is usually correct. The interviewer types like Rose aren’t really pundits IMO but provide the backup to the star they are interviewing/showcasing. Rose’s interviews were interesting at times, with a real writer or something ( who really cares what actors think). . The ones that bug me are the Diane Sawyer/Walters/Couric punditettes–making 30-40+ million a year for a few hours of face time–as with the GOP candidate debates:the Diane Sawyer show featuring Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.. Right out of Orwell.

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