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Eric Alterman: The Idiot's One-Trick Pony

We, the crack young staff of "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," have had a great time re-reading Eric Alterman's pathetic polemic What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News (2003). In said tome, Mr. Alterman, the incessantly enraged media critic of The Nation, argues that the mainstream media in the United States tilt to the Right of the political spectrum. That is to say, dear reader, the good ole' MSM are biased in favor of conservatives.

This flight of fancy amounts to the single idea Mr. Alterman appears to have had in the course of his entire journalistic career. (Perhaps he'll take on the supposed existence of gravity next.)

It seems as if it has not occurred to Mr. Alterman that this is all a matter of perspective--a raging reactionary could very well consider Fox News a haven for Communist shills. Those inveighing against liberal media bias take it for granted that, say, the Democratic Leadership Committee is an organ of the moderate Left, not, as Mr. Alterman would have it, of the Right.

As far as Mr. Alterman is concerned, however, The New York Times' Bill Keller is a "neoconservative." Ah, yes: And John Conyers is a Republican patsy.

In fact, according to Alterman, pretty much everything is right-wing: The New Republic, Ehud Barak, refrigerator repairmen, alternate Wednesdays, soy milk, index fingers, &c. No wonder he thinks the MSM tilt Right: As far as he's concerned, Eric Alterman and Noam Chomsky are the only genuine leftists in American political discourse.

So, why, you may reasonably ask, are we savoring a re-perusal of Mr. Alterman's feculent book? Well, for those of us who greatly esteem poor, flabby arguments, Mr. Alterman's What Liberal Media? is a locus classicus. For a fellow who holds a Ph.D. in history, Mr. Alterman has an uncanny knack for arguing like a mentally-challenged third-grader.

Take, for instance, this passage from the book, in which Mr. Alterman touts the intellectual openness of the few left-leaning news organs in America:

Its [the New Republic's] rival on the "left," the Nation, happily published free-floating liberal hater Christopher Hitchens until he chose to resign, and also invites Alexander Cockburn to attack liberals with morbid predictability.

Wow: This, thinks a professional journalist, is a good argument. The Nation is a beacon of political diversity because it offered column space to Christopher Hitchens when he was a left-winger and has a place for Alexander Cockburn. To hammer his point home, Mr. Alterman insinuates that Hitchens' No One Left To Lie To, an attack on Bill Clinton from the hard Left, is a right-wing screed.

Well, gee: To Mr. Alterman, criticism of the Left from the far Left amounts to an intellectual openness conservative publications lack. And it demonstrates left-wing tolerance for conservative views.

Does it get any sillier than this? The appearance of a Stalinoid hack like Alexander Cockburn solidifies that The Nation is not a redoubt of the political Left? To any person who's even mildly familiar with reality, that's completely daft.

But Mr. Alterman appears to have little interest in convincing anyone who has familiarity with reality. As such, his book is peppered with obviously partisan (mis)characterizations: Any leftwing study is automatically deemed "careful," "serious," and "scholarly"; any non-left-winger--no matter how moderate--is deemed "extremist," "rich," "reactionary," &c.

With arguments like these, it's no wonder that the mainstream media are so ferociously right-wing: The world's only genuine liberal--Eric Alterman--is surely crazy.

(Note: The crack young staff normally "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they are currently urging Eric Alterman to write a book called Al Gore: America's Most Famous Rabid Right-Wing Fascist.)


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Comments (16)

Eric who?... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Eric who?

I remember when Eric's book... (Below threshold)
Jo:

I remember when Eric's book came out and not too long afterward Walter Cronkite admitted on some show (Larry King?) that of course the media has a liberal tilt and always has.

Oops.

brainy435, I know the feeli... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

brainy435, I know the feeling. I know who Alterman is (humourless, skinflint, politics aside), but these HQ posts, and the HQ site? Is it a secret test bed for some character generator that some high school in Thousand Oaks is sending out? Input Kelsey Grammer manual of style; cross with NRO's The Corner talking points: *fart noise*. It's so consistantly repellent as a Reader, that it must be synthetic.

What color is the sky in Mr... (Below threshold)
Carl:

What color is the sky in Mr. Alterman's fantasy world?

I've had a theory for years... (Below threshold)

I've had a theory for years that the farther Left someone is the more likely they are to claim (and in the case of many, actually believe) they are moderate. Alterman just proved it. Anyone even slightly to the right of his Marxist ass is a radical conservative in his version of reasoning.

I for one happily admit tha... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

I for one happily admit that there is a liberal bias in the media as well on university campuses. The answer is simple and obvious - the superiority of ideas and intellect.

That is why, of course, the (wing)nuts constantly whine and moan about it. Lacking any credible ideas or vision and in consideration of the utter and complete failure of this corrupt presidency there is nothing left to do but whine and snivel. Oh, and of course mock. The little ideas of a little political philosophy.

Someone on this thread prov... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Someone on this thread proves they haven't the capability to follow a subject in a thoughtful, meaningful way. No doubt a lefty. ww

I know like most (wing)nut... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

I know like most (wing)nuts you don't get humor ww. But at least The Hatemongers do. They write satiire ww - you might look up the meaning. And now I know this will be way over your head - so was my response.

Hughie's prof's are those ... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Hughie's prof's are those with names like "chief horseface" Churchill and Juan Cole and on and on. You know the ones that teach kindergarden.

Good grief, Hugh.Y... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Good grief, Hugh.

You still write comments without so much as a hint of humor or satire.

THEN, when you almost invariably get called on it, you claim that those on the right are humorless.

You are as predictable as weeds in my garden...and as funny.

I'll repeat what I've said to you before: When only you think your funny, chances are pretty good that YOU AREN'T FUNNY.

I for one happily adm... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

I for one happily admit that there is a liberal bias in the media as well on university campuses. The answer is simple and obvious - the superiority of ideas and intellect.
That is why, of course, the (wing)nuts constantly whine and moan about it. Lacking any credible ideas or vision and in consideration of the utter and complete failure of this corrupt presidency there is nothing left to do but whine and snivel. Oh, and of course mock. The little ideas of a little political philosophy.


No, they do it there because they have captive audiences and they cannot tolerate competition. They are intolerant of other viewpoints and shut them out or shout them out. They wither in the face of competing ideas. Liberals naturally gravtitate into those professions. Conservatives have to keep the economy going.

That was good satire, Hugh.... (Below threshold)
Jo:

That was good satire, Hugh. Especially that part about superior intellect. Ha! Good one. Go write for the Onion. You're talented.

Jo, of one thing at least I... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Jo, of one thing at least I am positive. I am truly talented. Thank you. And thank you for not being bulemarexic for once.

Shake Your Ass:Tha... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Shake Your Ass:

Thanks for the commendation. You couldn't have made my point any better. You never fail me. Keep on shaking that ass.

Hugh,You had a poi... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Hugh,

You had a point?

That would be a first!

And I still hope that someday you will actually be funny, but I'm not holding my breath.

Neoconservative :m... (Below threshold)
Mnemosyne:

Neoconservative :

moderate political conservatism espoused or advocated by former liberals or socialists. (Dicionary.com)

In real terms it is usually faux conservatism used by politicians to garner more support.

Schlesinger tried to tie it to archconservatism, but that is not what it is.

This is probably the most misused term floating around the blogosphere today.




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