Left-wing blogs may be our only hope. And now we have one right here in Arkansas, thanks to those old Arkansas Gazette refugees at the Arkansas Times.
I’ll get back to that. First we must establish context.
You surely are aware that the right wing has taken over all American news media except the part that maintains left-wing vestiges but has little credibility left.
The New York Times had to admit to publishing lies. CBS went after the president on documents it had to confess it couldn’t authenticate. The television networks must live with the small matter of having declared the wrong winner of the last presidential race. Well, maybe not the wrong winner, exactly, but the wrong official victor as affirmed by a mostly partisan political vote of the right-tilting U. S. Supreme Court.
Into this vacuum has risen Fox, or GOP-TV. MSNBC is almost equally biased to the right. CNN is afraid of its shadow. About the only thing on the tube those of us to the left of center have anymore is Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, which is officially comedy but often uncannily accurate and insightful.
Am I saying all media are biased one way or the other? Yes, of course. Those who claim otherwise are not being truthful or sufficiently introspective.
Articles or reports can themselves be factual and fair, but bias inevitably gets reflected in the kinds of stories the newspapers or networks report and in the prominence of the display or the lack thereof.
For example: I got an exclusive interview with John Edwards several weeks ago and wrote a fair and accurate article. Some of our papers — one, anyway — didn’t run this straight news story because I am an opinion columnist whose biases are known to many readers. Fair enough. Less work for me. The fuller context is that despite the professional objectivity of the article, I got the interview in the first place because of my known leanings and the article took the shape it took because of the kinds of questions I asked. That’s how biases work their subtleties.
At least I’m honest about it. I’m getting too old to kid myself.
Here in Arkansas the local television stations don’t do much politics anymore. They’re busy with weather and self-promotion. And the two main daily newspaper owners are Republicans — the Stephenses and Walter Hussman at the Little Rock paper.
That brings us back to the Arkansas Times, a vibrant liberal tabloid that, by publishing only once a week, has been unable to balance the Republican dailies.
But now the Times has entered full throttle this new and more democratic media. It has unveiled its new Internet site, complete with this hot new thing called a blog, which is short for web log and which it can update with breaking news and free-wheeling commentary at all hours, interactively engaging surfers who are invited to respond.
This "Arkansas Blog" went up last week. You can find it at arktimes.com. In three days it had at least six scoops. Among them: It reported Bill O’Reilly’s sexual predicament first in Arkansas. It broke the news that a group will spend a half-million dollars to keep Arkansas voters from approving Amendment 1 to extend term limits. It revealed that Janet Huckabee was a GOP poll-watcher for early voting in Little Rock.
Punch it up, and keep up. Right-wingers, too. You need to know what left-wingers are saying. You need to get with the modern technology. And news is news, regardless of the commentary.
P. S. — I am honored to say that the first item ever posted on the Arkansas Times’ "Arkansas Blog" was a report on my column that ran in our Stephens Media Group papers and other fine purchasers last week about Lu Hardin’s turning down the Tommy Lee reality show, with a link to our website, arkansasnews.com. Did I just there engage in shameless self-promotion? Of course. We all do it. It’s one of our biases.