It is by now a truism that television has usurped many of the traditional roles of political parties; more than that, it sometimes seems to have all but devoured the political process. Power flows to politicians and journalists who exploit the medium. The new “bosses” are the arbiters of visibility: Ted Koppel, Larry King, Phil Donahue. But if television is also, as right-wing media bashers have long insisted, a hotbed of liberalism, why have Republicans far outpaced Democrats in seizing the airwaves, with propaganda such as National Empowerment Television, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and the Republican Exchange Satellite Network? Why do right-wing voices predominate on so many talk shows? And why, in a television-dominated culture, is liberalism in such sorry retreat, and a snarling, philistine conservatism rampant?
The left has certainly made its share of strategic mistakes. Rightly or wrongly, it has been identified with several policies and posture —welfare, affirmative action, political correctness—that merit aside, have given the right a polemical field day. But such issues alone haven’t kept progressive views off the air or garbled their message. Rather, I suspect that for all the conservative whining about the liberal media, something quite different is going on....
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