CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

No Let-Up On Media Bias

Apr 9, 2007

Is the mainstream media (MSM) biased? Well, I suppose it all depends on who you ask. If you are secular, leftwing, and into the various trendy social causes, you will probably find the media to be a paragon of objectivity. But if you happen to be pro-faith, pro-family and pro-life, you might beg to differ.

I have documented elsewhere the consistent, endemic and entrenched bias of the MSM. Examples are not hard to come by. In case there is still any doubt, however, let me produce yet one more, this time from a leading Australian newspaper. And no prizes for guessing which one I have in mind here.

The Melbourne Age is hard to beat when it comes to pushing radical agendas. Not a day goes by when it is not promoting various social experiments and leftist causes, be it same sex marriage, human cloning or the cult of St Hicks. And these are pushed not just in the editorial pages, but in the “news” sections as well.

A recent example had to do with the issue of allowing singles and lesbians to have access to assisted reproductive services, and the legal recognition of such “families”. In the March 31, 2007 Age, its Insight section had a huge article on the topic, filling the first two pages.

The entire article seemed like one long propaganda piece for allowing singles and lesbians to access such services. The article was written in typical MSM fashion. It featured plenty of human interest stories throughout: heart-tugging pleas were made for these horrible laws to be changed so various alternative lifestyle types could just be allowed to have kids like anyone else. The implication of course is that those opposed to such social engineering are cold-hearted types who are standing in the way of progress and social equality.

In usual Age style, it made the pretence of being balanced, and showing all points of view. Around a dozen people were quoted or cited in the article. Most were on the change-the-law side. In three brief paragraphs some opposing voices were heard. John Howard, Ted Baillieu and Tony Abbott each had one sentence to offer, but all were remarks made earlier.

The Australian Family Association was given a brief mention. Its spokesperson, Angela Conway, rightly argued that the welfare of children should be pre-eminent here, and that children do best when raised by a biological mother and father, cemented by marriage.

Her remarks were also confined to a single sentence. The three paragraphs containing these four dissenting sentences comprised around 160 words in total. Given that the article was 2344 words in length, this meant the alternative point of view managed to get less than 7 per cent of space. Not bad for a balanced and objective news story.

Now I can give a little background here. For many years I was the spokesperson for the AFA in Melbourne. Thus I have done plenty of these MSM interviews in general, and Age interviews in particular.

A call from a journalist would result in a 5 or 10 minute interview. Out of that, if I was very lucky, one sentence would be used, and that usually at the very end of the article. Thus a token conservative voice was featured – only just – so that the MSM could claim to be balanced and neutral. But when stacked against the other 95 per cent of the article in which the opposite position was argued, the conservative view barely got off the ground.

In this article all the usual suspects from the other side were featured, even if the reader was not given complete disclosure about them. For example, Dr Ruth McNair was given a good run in the piece. She was described in fairly innocuous terms, as “a Melbourne University senior lecturer in general practice and a GP who specialises in gay and lesbian health”. The Age did not bother to inform the reader that she is also a leading lesbian activist who has pushed for law change in this area for years.

But words alone do not make an article. Judicious use of emotional photographs help to make the case. Indeed, emotive images can make or break a story, and it is hard to compete with them. And this story did not disappoint. It featured not one, not two, but three full-colour photos of lesbian couples with kids, ever so desperate to see their “families” recognised and legitimised.

Page one featured a half-page photo, with two more large pics on page two. Smiling lesbian couples with kids. Ah, how sweet. How cruel of those conservative bigots to stop such loving families from being allowed to flourish and be recognised.

But as has been indicated, if we really care about our children, then we should seek to see as many as possible born and raised in two-parent families, not in various alternative lifestyle situations. But the interests of children are seldom considered here. It is always the whims and demands of adults that take precedence.

And the MSM is quite happy to side with these adults over against the rights of children. But one shouldn’t be surprised. This is just par for the course with the MSM. Which is why a quiet revolution in alternative media has sprung up, such as the blogosphere.

Truth is important, and truth must be readily available. If the MSM is intent on suppressing the truth and/or rewriting the truth, then other means will come along to allow people to hear the whole story, not just the parts the MSM deem allowable, and not just with the usual MSM slant.

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9 Responses to No Let-Up On Media Bias

  • A more apt abbreviation is MMM — Mendacious Mainstream Media.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Global warming is another classic example where the MSM is incapable of objectivity and hense we have to rely on the ‘blogosphere’ for the alternative view.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • It’s political correctness. Even the smartest of intellectuals still fall for it.

    We need more voices – like yours – that don’t care if they’re politically incorrect. But the problem is that from others’ points of view, Christians look biased when we also push our own “agenda”. We can argue all we want that a mother and a father are needed for the best upbringing of a child, but as Christians our viewpoints are immediately dismissed.

    The problem is, and this is going to of course sound biased, that if someone was truly unbiased and looked at all viewpoints fairly, they’d realise that Christianity is right – and then become a Christian, hence losing whatever status they had of being free from bias.

    Tim Malone

    Has anyone done authoritative, unbiased studies on the upbringing of children, taking into account their psychological health and other factors, based on their parenting situation?

    By the way, I think you need more people on here who disagree with you. It would make for an interesting comment debate.

  • Thanks Tim

    If you are asking whether there is research on the best family structure for raising kids, then the answer is yes. There are over 10,000 studies on this covering three decades. They lead to one crystal clear conclusion: children do best when raised with their biological mother and father, preferably cemented by marriage. That is the overwhelming evidence of the social science research. I have summarized this mountain of data elsewhere.

    As to your last comment, simply look at, say, my two-part review of The God Delusion for plenty of contrary opinion.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Tim Malone: if you manage to find such a creature as one “free from bias”, call a taxidermist to preserve it for posterity. Fact is, all have biases, and that includes atheists. And all laws impose morality; the only question is whose morality is imposed.

    Also, the MMM in reality has no problem with professing Christians invoking Christianity to justify government polices — as long as they are of the Left. E.g. when the Pope speaks out against the Iraq war, he is an enlightened religious leader; when he speaks out against abortion, he’s a silly old bigot who should keep his religion out of politics. When Abbot invokes Christian principles on the sanctity of life to oppose the human pesticide RU486, he is pilloried; when Rudd invokes an ostensibly Christian justification for socialism, he gets a free pass.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Jonathan Sarfati 10.4.07 / 8pm said:
    Also, the MMM in reality has no problem with professing Christians invoking Christianity to justify government polices — as long as they are of the Left.

    Bill and Jonathan, I would like to add today’s example of same.

    Mr Rudd announced a new expensive policy to test children at the start of school both in health (umm, four-five factors IIRC) and in academic terms.

    His supposed Christian socialism is mainly socialism, pure and simple. The Nanny State courtesy of ALP policy.

    Harder to pin down to a single example though is the Federal Coalition regularly pushing a highly centralist agenda – transferring power from the States to Canberra.

    The bureaucrats are currently advancing, at the expense of personal freedoms, localised government, diversity and the old principle of British common law – all that is not specifically prohibited is to be permitted.

    There is a distinct move towards the Roman/European system of codified law – one is ONLY permitted to do what the law allows: all else is assumed to be forbidden.

    John Angelico

  • It helps to remember that the media is there to make money and to push the agenda of the moguls. No objectivity there.
    Mark Newton, Melbourne

  • Tim raises an interesting point: “We can argue all we want that a mother and a father are needed for the best upbringing of a child, but as Christians our viewpoints are immediately dismissed.”

    It makes little difference whether we make our case from research proving children need both a father and mother, or base it solely on biblical morality. In this case, even if the other side acknowledge the research as valid, they may simply say this doesn’t justify discriminating against same-sex couples. This is a product of their worldview or ‘religion’ if you like. We need to tell them that they are basing public policy on nothing other than their own religious ideas.

    As Jonathan says above: “And all laws impose morality; the only question is whose morality is imposed.” We need to challenge the humanists at the level of their worldview and demonstrate to them that: (a) they are people whose worldview is based on faith not reason alone; (b) they are attempting to impose this religious worldview upon society through legislation; and (c) their worldview is false.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • I constantly read about minority groups demanding their “rights” but do not read about their demanding the obligations associated. It is pure emotionalism to just think that love covers all and that is all that children need. No, raising a child creates a number of problems that only a loving male and female couple can provide. It is the responsibility of the male, in this age, to provide the necessary finances and direction for his family and the mother ensures the effective use to give succour to the children. Children also need boundaries, they need established limits set so that they know what is right, what they can do, what great potential they have and what is adverse to others.
    Yes, I have heard a great deal about about your rights but what about mine, what about the children and what about society in general who will be responsible for your choice of lifestyle?
    Jim Sturla

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