Many talk about biases in the media, by which they typically mean the ‘mainstream’ (corporate) media. Most people would agree that biases exist. Yet it is hard to find agreement about what those biases are. Maybe that is an important part of it. The issue isn’t just about biases, but how our very perception of biases becomes biased. We lose perspective because our entire reality has become so mediated by media. The more our lives become saturated with media, the less we are able to see media clearly.
It’s similar to looking into a funhouse mirror and trying to discern the meaning in the warped image one sees reflected back. Now imagine if you were surrounded by funhouse mirrors on all sides, everywhere you went. To understand the distortions of one mirror, you’d look into another mirror with different distortions. We’ve come to see the funhouse mirror as reality. We are simply arguing over which funhouse mirror is least distorted or else distorted in a way that confirms our own expectations. What most of us never think about is who are the people who make the mirrors and remain hidden behind them.
Maybe the purpose of so much media isn’t in what it shows but in what it doesn’t show. The bias isn’t necessarily toward a particular ideology but rather away from the real source of power and influence. It’s a tool of distraction, a key component of politics as spectacle. If you want to know what are the issues of greatest importance and what are the views of greatest explanatory power, pay close attention to what is ignored and dismissed, what is precluded and occluded. Look for what is absent and lacking, the gap in between what is stated and the space outside of the frame where something should be.
The failure of corporate media is as much or more ommission than it is commission. Various media figures attacking each other about their supposed biases is yet more distraction. Arguing over biases is a safe and managed debate, each side playing the role of controlled opposition for the other. But what is it that both sides avoid? What is disallowed by the propaganda model of media? What is not being spoken and represented? What is missing?
The real bias isn’t Democratic versus Republican. Rather, it’s between the elite and the masses, between the powerful and disenfranchised, between the comfortable classes and the lower classes. It just so happens that the majority is further to the left on many major issues and policies, both social and economic, as compared to even the DNC elite. So, the left-right divide itself is, first and foremost, a class divide.
The two parties, as part of spectacle, might pretend to disagree but in reality they are mostly in alignment. Democrats will talk of social justice, economic equity, and democratic reform; and Republicans will talk about abortion and family values; but the elite in the parties will never do anything to accomplish these when in power. The reason is because, if they actually did what they promised, then they’d have no dependable rhetorical points to manipulate the public in the next election.
There is a definite bias. But the corporate media and corporatist parties will never speak of it.