The catalyst for this process of the media’s mainstreaming of leftist ideology was the war in Vietnam. The left viewed this conflict not as a Cold War duel necessary for containing communist aggression, as many Americans believed, but as a neo-imperialist attempt to prop up an oppressive regime of capitalist lackeys trying to crush a nationalist liberation movement. As such, it was the duty of the media to instruct their fellow citizens on their errors of thinking and liberate them from their delusions…

Yet despite the political bias of much of its reporting of the Vietnam conflict, the media congratulated themselves for ending the war, and confirmed their status as the righteous “watchdogs” monitoring the government, “speaking truth to power,” and protecting our liberties. The Watergate affair, a political scandal of the sort that can be found throughout American history, not only confirmed the media’s self-congratulatory pose as the only thing standing between the American people and fascism, but bestowed as well the rewards of celebrity status and lucre on the reporters who in effect had simply channeled information given to them by a disgruntled FBI employee. The end result is the mainstream media today: for-profit businesses that think of themselves as morally and intellectually superior not just to other businesses, but to the organs of government and the mass of gullible voters who put politicians in office.

The second development that increased the malign partisan influence of the media in the postwar period was the rise of television and the decline in the number of newspapers. With that, there were fewer and fewer information sources from which readers could chose, giving the three television networks and the big metropolitan papers, especially the New York Times, inordinate unchallenged power over public information. At the same time, those seeking alternative points of view had fewer and fewer daily papers, while the ones that remained were dependent on a few news services such as the Associated Press, which represents one point of view. To speak in Madisonian terms, one media faction had now expanded to the point that it crowded out and marginalized alternative points of view.

What made the media’s bias dangerous, then, as much as their ideology was the monopoly they enjoyed. But starting in the 1980s, the rise of talk radio, cable news shows, and most importantly the Internet has created more competition for the mainstream media. Voters now have a plethora of choices for news and opinion, and the biased reporting of the past is now swiftly exposed by those alternative sources of information.