Tim Groseclose on media bias

I have an article at Quadrant Online dealing with the media bias in the US. It brings together first Tim Groseclose’s video providing the evidence of media bias along with the Democrat, Pat Caddell, arguing that the bias now being shown is putting democracy itself in danger. The notion of a relatively objective press is in many ways a recent innovation and has become one that we have become used to. We are now instead in the process of getting used to the idea that the media is a grouper for the left and will lie and distort to whatever extent is necessary to get their people into office. Given how obvious that all is, they will not hold that position for long. The question of the moment is whether they can hold it long enough to sneak Obama back over the line in spite of his manifest and manifold failures.

The video of Tim Groseclose below (which I also cited in an earlier post) provides a short summary of the points he raised in his book, Left Turn: How Liberal Media Distorts the American Mind, which I reviewed for Quadrant last year.

What good it is to know all this I am not entirely sure, since it is now pretty obvious that the media is bothered not at all by being exposed by those on the right so long as it gets to pour its message into the broader public consciousness? There is always the hope that we can shame the media into better behaviour but since they don’t appear even to notice their own bias themselves that may not work. But if everyone on our side at least knows the score about the media, then that will be a start.

You may nevertheless find this noteworthy. As shown in the video and Tim’s book, if you are a typical Quadrant or Catallaxy reader of the non-troll variety you may be interested to learn from Groseclose that, were it not for the media bias, the overall view of the average voter would be similar to your own. Think how different politics would be then.

Raiding super

Possibly the most intelligent document ever to come out of the Australian union movement was published in 1987 under the title, Australia Reconstructed. This did not make it on par with The Wealth of Nations, but as these things go – and perhaps there is a touch of nostalgia kicking in – by the standards of the labour movement today and its Parliamentary wing, it was the nearest thing there was to a union capitalist manifesto. My next five years were spent working to defeat its centralising intent but at least at its core was an acceptance that the market economy was not only here to stay but also had much to offer working people.

An important part of the Australia Reconstructed mentality (I can’t remember if it was part of the document) was the wish to spread superannuation throughout the working population, not restricting it as it was then to those employees an employer chose to provide superannuation to. The flaw in the proposal was that the entire cost of super was to be borne by employers and to cut a long story short we now have the Super Guarantee system in place that requires employers to put 9% of an employee’s wages cost into a superannuation fund.

Part of the argument against the super system that we put up at the time was that having such large funds that were both central and visible made them a target for governments to supplement their tax revenues. Generally up until now governments have been pretty good at leaving the system alone, partly from recognition that the savings generated are actually a good thing (not that it has created a dime’s worth of extra saving compared to how things might otherwise have gone), and partly because there is a third-rail element in messing with the retirement savings of the nation (not that anyone is better protected against poverty in old age than they were before). But today we have the Gillard Government, with its blind incoherence and social and economic incompetence as its most obvious characteristic, so all is different. They now wish to change the rules – only for the “wealthy”, of course – so that they can fund their deficits and balance their budgets without actually cutting back on their own spending, indeed with an intent to increase its level of outlays. Here is the context as reported in The Australian:

The federal government has been canvassing the industry for potential savings to meet its pledge of a budget surplus for 2012-13 amid collapsing tax revenue and a raft of spending programs in health, welfare and education.

Bill Kelty, the godfather of the superannuation system, the former ACTU Secretary, the one who didn’t go into Parliament, has been incensed. Well, sort of. From that same report:

BILL Kelty – a founding father of Australia’s superannuation system – has warned the Gillard government to stay away from tax changes to super in its search for savings and new revenue to meet the pledge of a budget surplus.

Mr Kelty said further changes to superannuation risked undermining confidence in the system at a time when years of volatile markets and low earnings had already made it vulnerable.

‘I think you’ve got to be very careful about changing the tax system and increasing it because there is increased uncertainty,’ Mr Kelty told The Weekend Australian.

‘These are decisions for a generation and when you start tampering with it then you don’t tamper with it for the day, you tamper with it for a generation.

‘So you don’t want to tamper too much with that and say in addition to the relative decline in earnings, what we are going to do is impose another adjustment process, that is a higher level of tax on it,’ he said. ‘That, I think, would be a very silly thing to do.’

I would not describe his words as a categorical rejection of the idea of tampering, not at all. If this is the strongest that will be said against the proposal to raid the super system, the certainty is that is what is about to happen. And the result, given the structures we have in place today, will be a worsening situation for those who wish to save for retirement and a reduction in our national savings which are instead to be squandered in areas favoured by the government which has shown hardly an ounce of economic judgment in anything it has done.

More on media bias as if we didn’t already know

That the media is biased to the left is obvious without much need of proof. Nevertheless, if you are interested not just in the evidence but also in a measure of the tilt, Tim Groseclose provided it in his exceptionally interesting analysis of media bias published in 2011. I discussed his Left Turn: How Liberal Media Distorts the American Mind in a Quadrant review last year but he has now added a video presentation to highlight what is shown in more detail in the book. What good it is to know all this is a genuine question since it is now pretty obvious that the media cares not at all that it is exposed by those of us on the right so long as it gets to pour its message out into the public. But if you are a typical Quadrant reader, for example, it ought to be interest you to discover that were it not for the media bias that surrounds us all, the view of the average voter would be similar to your own.

Media endangering democracy

What makes this more than usually noteworthy is that the speaker, Pat Caddell, was a Democrat pollster. I don’t think he is exaggerating.

I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy.

[Via Instapundit]

Come back Wall Street – all is forgiven

I did my duty by going along to every one of the post-GFC Gordon Gekko greed-is-good films I could find to watch the slagging of the capitalist system in movies made by capitalists, guided as they were by the profit motive in the story lines they chose to portray. I therefore continued this form of psychological abuse by going out to see Richard Gere in Arbitrage which co-stars Susan Sarandon, itself a very bad sign of plot points to come. And I will confess to being reluctant to go but went only because it was described as a “thriller” which is my wife’s favourite kind of film.

What follows is not a recommendation to go see the film for yourself, although I also do not wish to deter you. It gets 85% by the critics at Rotten Tomatoes but only 73% by the audience. On IMDB the audience gives it a 6.9. I would go with the audience at both RT and IMDB which seem to have it about right. It’s not Gone with the Wind.

But why I mention the film at all is because the Richard Gere character is portrayed in a positive way and in all the wheeler dealer stuff which we are manipulated by in the story and in the characterisations, we are made to want Gere to succeed. Gere is no villain – not in the ordinary sense anyway – and while it is hard for me to tell for sure, I would almost think he is meant to be the All American Boy Makes Good. The moral still comes out that devoting your time to such horrid areas of work such as making money is bad for your family relations, but Gere is crafted to show a net surplus of positive virtues.

And just for interest, when I looked the film up the on these movie sites, it is the only one ever to have used the word “arbitrage” in its title. I’m not entirely surprised but it is notable that the term is considered neither so obscure nor so offputting that it can now be used in the title of a film designed for a mass audience.

Is the media in the process of discrediting itself?

The media as arbiter may well be disappearing right before our eyes. It is now, I think, becoming so well understood that what is said in most of the the press or on most of the electronic media is nothing other than attempts by those who write and present the stories to continue the narrative of left-of-centre parties. It is not a universal, but the discount factor is getting larger the more obvious the distortions and lies have become. We on the right have known this for a long long time. That independents are catching on may be the big change now going on.

The evidence is tentative but there has now been the absolute necessity for Obama to walk back his attempt to lay blame for the embassy attacks on some obscure youtube video that no one had ever seen. No matter how much the media attempted to tell the administration story, the evidence that these were barefaced lies only meant that the more the media tried to support Obama, the more it was the media who were seen as liars themselves and the less willing many more than before have become to take the media’s word for anything.

And now with Romney’s 47% moment that was unanimously described across the media as the end of the Romney campaign, there has been an uprising on the right side of politics to argue that we here do not accept the media’s verdict and that the only problem with what Romney said was that he doesn’t say it often enough.

If at some stage media criticism simply no longer contains the sting it once had, which has for so long been a poison for the Republican side of the debate, you may begin to hear Romney say in public the kinds of things he has up until now saved for behind closed doors. If we get to the point where the views and reports of the The New York Times, Washington Post, ABCBSNBC and the rest are largely ignored and Romney is able to speak above their heads we will be in a kind of world in which more conservative views are sought while the leftist media are recognised as the shills they are for a discredited administration whose time is up. The media, because it has become so extreme, may be taking itself out of the game.