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How The Mainstream Media Is Missing What's Mainstream | The Nation

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The Notion

Unfiltered takes on politics, ideas and culture from Nation editors and contributors.

How The Mainstream Media Is Missing What's Mainstream

On Saturday night, Stephen Crockett, Co-host of Democratic Talk Radio, had an interesting blog about a "typical missed news story" and what it reveals about the "liberal media" myth.

I'm posting it to The Notion not because it's about an event The Nation was involved in, but because I believe it's another sign of how skewed our so-called mainstream media coverage is. Too many media outlets--especially television--focus on the beltway, on the horse-race stories, and echo the administration's line. As a result, they fail to reflect the real and broad range of views in this country. I'd argue that the mainstream media is missing what is mainstream.

As Paul Krugman recently pointed out, "You'd never know it from the range of views represented on the Sunday talk shows, but a majority of Americans believes that the administration deliberately misled the nation about W.M.D.'s and that we should set a timetable for withdrawal [or]... For example, that the public believes by two to one that we should guarantee health insurance for all Americans."

I've always believed that there are millions of progressives/liberals in this country, who may not agree on everything, but whose concerns and values are basically ignored by broadcast media and radio--which is where a majority of Americans still get their news. Poll after poll shows shows that most Americans share what one could call core progressive or liberal values--investment in health care and education over tax cuts, fair trade over free trade, a speedy end to the disastrous war in Iraq, corporate accountability over deregulation, preserving clean air and water instead of rolling back environmental protections, defending social security and medicare over privatizing them, raising the minimum wage instead of increasing CEO payouts. But because people don't hear their views, concerns reflected on television or on the local radio, they begin to think that their views are weird, unpopular, even, deviant.

If you want more evidence of how increasingly skewed our media landscape is, check out Media Matters' valuable new report, "If It's Sunday, It's Conservative." (It's embargoed until Tuesday, but we'll be posting it here that morning.) The report documents, through rigorous content analysis, how over the last five years Republicans and conservatives have found their voices amplified by the Sunday debate-setting talk shows. Confirming Krugman's point, Media Matters' report shows that, "As a result of the skew of the Sunday shows, our national debate--with all of its consequences for policy and public opinion--has been pulled unmistakably to the right."

And check out Stephen Crockett's blog of Democratic Talk Radio.

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