Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Media Madness...A Review

In the forward of Father George Rutler's delightful book, Coincidentally, he bemoans the downward spiral of our educational system, the death of wit, and the ability to cite obscure trivia and factoids. The book is a collection of strange coincidences and chance that even had my father, a gifted Catholic theologian and scholar, reaching for reference books to clarify a few chapters. Father Rutler made no apologies for this, as he did not want to be another stone on the chest of our ever eroding standards of scholarship. He wrote that during a lecture, a student once asked him if the term World War II implied that there had been another war that preceded it.

James Bowman, another author of great wit and wisdom, seemed to have been of a similar mindset when he wrote his last impressive tome, Honor, A History. However, his latest book, Media Madness, be it by chance or design, is a much more accessible read.

A brief book by most standards (at 130 pages), Media Madness explores the death of real journalism and the media's obsessive narcissism. At one time, even John Stossel believed that the media's bias was an innocent one, and explained that most journalists were simply unable to see that their reporting was hopelessly liberal. In an interview over a decade ago, Stossel explained that even when armed with seemingly overwhelming evidence, trying to point out the left-wing political bias to his co-workers at ABC was like "hitting my head against a brick wall". After the most recent American election, where even MSNBC boasted a slogan of "Change" in the last weeks of the campaign, I doubt anyone can accuse the media of naiveté any longer.

Of greater interest though, is Bowman's examination of the media's obsession with "bias" or the appearance of being unbiased. This is a phenomenon that has crept into the general populace as well. I often receive bizarre emails from people who are incensed that my blog lacks neutrality or objectivity. The fact that my conservative blog is becoming increasingly dismissed by the left because it is "biased" is an unnerving example of how a malady of the media can quickly become contagious.

As Bowman argues, the media's obsession with bias and neutrality is leading to the demise of political discourse, and even the corruption of our political culture itself.

The book is amusing, thoughtful and sobering, and is a great follow up to Bernard Goldberg's Bias. James Bowman is an invaluable, sane voice clamouring to be heard over the cacophony of absurdity that is the mainstream media.

Buy this book. It's one of the must reads of the year.



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