Here’s a thing I don’t get. Lefty partisans (in New Zealand and elsewhere) are overwhelmingly convinced that the Main Stream Media is:
- Run by a shadowy cabal of Dr Evil types whose main goal is to bring the political right to power and keep them there;
- Obsessed with prurience, trivia, conflict (falsified or trumped-up if necessary), outrage and scandal to the total exclusion of “serious” topics like policy;
- So credulous as to be unable (or so captured as to be unwilling) to distinguish between competing accounts of differing veracity, reporting all opinions as nominally equal;
- Selective, punishing the left more harshly than the right; and
- All of the above is strongly contributing to the decline of civilisation as we know it.
The right believes much the same, just with a different polarity.
And yet, despite these deeply-held beliefs, partisans on both sides react with shock and dismay whenever the terrible old Emm Ess Emm lives up to these expectations. They wail and they gnash their teeth, but they don’t adopt (and don’t require their political representatives to adopt) strategies to deny the Emm Ess Emm the opportunity to fulfil this brief, or to force it into “responsible coverage” mode, and they refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for giving the Emm Ess Emm exactly what it needs to do exactly what it does.
Seriously. As a political movement, the more you believe all of that list — and in general, the lower your opinion of the media — the more you should be obsessed with ensuring that your strategy is freaking watertight so you don’t fall foul of it. Moreover, if you believe the last point (that it’s hastening the end of the world) you should be all the more committed to getting into power so as to implement reforms that will change this state of affairs.
But enthusiastic adherence to these beliefs correlates strongly with a poor understanding of the function of the media and how it works in reality. So those most exercised by the media’s obvious bias against their team are those least able to remedy it. Because they don’t understand the system, they tend to misdiagnose the problem. Having misunderstood the problem they are unable to respond strategically, and the typical result is inchoate fury.