Local news shows are where the biased action is

posted at 3:35 pm on January 15, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Tucker Carlson’s new site, the Daily Caller, has an interesting essay from an anonymous TV anchorman with 30 years of journeyman experience in local news productions.  While many people focus on the bias evident in national news broadcasts and other far-reaching media outlets, the essayist warns that the most significant bias happens on the local news broadcasts.  He gives an inside look on how it gets accomplished:

For the better part of my adult life, I’ve worked as an anchor and reporter at CBS, NBC and ABC affiliated newsrooms across the country — often complaining about the nanny-state liberalism that infects so much of news coverage. Arguably, local news is a more insidious and destructive force than the widely accepted liberal bias of networks and other national components of mainstream media. After all, study after study has demonstrated that local news is more widely watched — and, more importantly, more trusted than other forms of mainstream media. There is a case to be made that the steady drumbeat of hyped-up threats — SUV’s that roll over, kitchen-counter bacteria, road rage, swine flu, amber alerts and the stations’ willingness to enlist governments and institutions to solve those “perceived” problems, actually drives a lot of bad and unnecessary public policy.

But it’s a formula that has worked as a cash cow for your local TV station. It is no accident that most local TV stations market themselves with nanny-state slogans: “Channel 2: Working for you!” or “ABC 6: On your side!” You might say those slogans are a subtler version of, “NBC 5: Making your boo-boos all better!”

I’ve lived in three major media markets — LA, Phoenix, and the Twin Cities — and visited many more.  The TV news is indeed formulaic in this manner.  But why is that so?  The answer is rather surprising — and rather sexist, too:

I’ve used the example of breast implants, but the formula works for any perceived wrongdoing. And even if trial lawyers aren’t involved, victim status is — with the promise of fixing the boo-boo — “Working for you.” As one news director I worked for once said, “There are lots of things to be afraid of out there.” Indeed, cancer, household bacteria, child predators, hot weather, cold weather, tap water, electromagnetic fields, vaccinations, Chinese food, Mexican food, racism, fertilizers, homophobia, hate crimes, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

And, who is most likely to be afraid of these threats? Well, the mainstream media machine, cynically and manipulatively, believes it’s that key demographic group, women ages 18-49. They, according to consultants and marketing executives, control the household remote and make the buying decisions. No. One. Else. Matters.

In an ultimate display of hypocritical sexism, your local liberal newsroom treats women of that coveted demographic group as if they were frightened wards of the nanny state, as if they were children incapable of weighing risk against advantage, detriment against benefit. It plies them with a daily dose of all the things one must be afraid of. And it cynically taps into those traits that evolution has bestowed women with in greater quantity than men — compassion and empathy.

Anonymous has much more, so be sure to read it all.  The main point is indeed troubling.  While these news stations often use the free market to pressure wrongdoers into penance and restitution by exposing their poor business practices and damaging their bottom lines, they contribute to a culture in which people demand not just market action but government intervention.  We must be protected from all of these deadly threats to our existence, after all, and that means bigger and more intrusive government rather than just education and individual action — at least in the minds of people watching these hyperbolic special reports.

If we want to build a culture of dependency, this is the best way to do it — from the ground up.  Watch your own local news shows and see how much of their broadcasts, and especially their promotions, are built on fear.  It’s mind-blowing.


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