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.