Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fair and Re-balanced

See, this is why people who hold up C-SPAN as some perfectly balanced forum are full of it. C-SPAN's Washington Journal divides their phone lines up into groups, and because they usually have a "Supports Bush" and a "Supports Democrats" line, they like to hold themselves up as unbiased, showing "both sides" of an issue.

Of course, this isn't true. Most often, this is because C-SPAN takes the issues it discusses from the New York Times and the Washington Post more often than from other sources. This means the editors of those papers are largely deciding the topics under debate and what initial slant will be provided to the viewer. Since those papers are about the most reliably left-wing mainstream papers around (excepting perhaps the Los Angeles Times), it means the topics being discussed are those being pushed by the left-wing.

But today, it gets a little more obvious. The topic under discussion is: viewers' opinions on Rupert Murdoch's successful purchase of the Wall Street Journal. Now, the Journal is generally seen as a right-wing newspaper; I would agree, although I note that their editorial board sided with President Bush on the recent immigration deal against the Republican base. Still, a Bush supporter would be more likely to support this purchase, and a Dem supporter would be more likely to oppose this purchase.

So, what does C-SPAN do? They decide to switch back to their old scheme of having an east-coast line and a west-coast line. This gives the Democrat supporters an opportunity to call in on every call, rather than just every other call. And sure enough, almost every caller that get through is opposed to the purchase, because "Murdoch lies", "Fox News lies", "he's a Bush toady", etc., etc. I suspect (without evidence, of course - this is barely a blog) that a poll of WSJ readership would result in a different split.

I for one will continue to read the Journal, and I'm not expecting much change - except that I suspect I'll see the Journal editorial board's next attempt at a television show appear on the upcoming Fox Business Channel.

Edit to add: Senator Tom Coburn followed that discussion to talk about earmark transparency, and he absolutely destroyed. I don't know if he's going to be successful, but he's absolutely on the mark on this battle.

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