Why Richard Posner's "Bad News" is bad news
Richard Posner, the egomaniacal judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, has written another of his phony scholarly-sounding pieces; this time on the news media and the issue of bias.
That the NY Times deigns this fit to print is an indication that the Times has continued its decline in standards. The article, "Bad News," appeared today in the NY Times Book Review section.
I wrote a letter to the Times I know will not be published--so I reprint it here:
"Richard Posner's "Bad News" is a particularly sad example of bad analysis. First, Posner fails to define what he means by "liberal" or "conservative," which allows him to sloppily call CNN "liberal" or claim, without evidence, it was moving "left" in the wake of the creation of FoxNews. Posner, who steers his ship no further than the conventional un-wisdom one finds at country clubs and DC cocktail hours, dismisses Eric Alterman's book on media bias without bothering to show he read even the introduction to Alterman's book. Alterman, at the beginning of his book, correctly notes that identifying a journalist as "liberal" without considering whether that means "cultural" liberal or "economic" (i.e. New Deal, not Hayek) liberal--and the same with "conservative"--does not tell us about the direction or cause of bias in the corporate-owned media. Once that fairly simple distinction is understood, as Alterman himself discovered, the direction and causes of the bias that is most often shown in the news commentary in the television and radio becomes more understandable and fairly consistent. Posner's passive voice that radiates an attempt to say "a pox on both houses--but those liberals are more wrong, of course" is particularly phony for that reason.
"Posner also fails to discuss how corporate media's news executives, during the late 1960s, began to favor "process" issues (horse race and image issues) over "policy" issues in their news, and how the repeal of the "Fairness Doctrine" accelerated a trend of economic pro-corporate bias and culturally conservative bias (the two pillars of the GOP) in radio and television broadcast commentary. Does Posner wonder how or why Phil Donahue and Jim Hightower had their shows yanked as much for a failure to draw private, corporate advertising revenue as opposed to low ratings, yet low rated shows such as Scarborough Country and the new Tucker Carlson disasters on MSNBC continue to be coddled? Further, one need only compare the odious Candy Crowley with Frank McGhee to understand how network news reporting has been dumbed down over the decades.
"Maybe this article will finally expose Posner as a lazy egomaniac who thinks he can opine on nearly any subject with a gloss of a few paragraphs in a few books someone hands to him. For a guy who openly prides himself on having a practical approach to life, economics and the law, Posner has little understanding of how business works and how people function and bow to their bosses in business environments, including newsrooms. Worse, Posner has no understanding of sociology or the history of the American news media in the 20th Century. The Times was better off telling Posner that his article was not fit to print."
Oh yeah, I think to myself with a tone dripping with sarcasm, the Times will definitely print my letter...Sure it will.