The Monitor likes Bernard Goldberg, it really does. And the Monitor despises the smugly insular media types who’ve been lambasting the former CBS News correspondent for his bestselling (#1 on this week’s New York Times list) expose of the liberal bias that pervades the nation’s news media.
But for honesty’s sake, the Monitor has no choice but to say that Goldberg’s book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (Regnery Publishers) is more than a little disappointing.
Don’t get the Monitor wrong: Bias is certainly a worthwhile read, and the stories Goldberg recounts are entertaining and even instructive. It’s just that the book has about it the feel of one of those ubiquitous, self-congratulatory “as told to” celebrity biographies, heavy on personal anecdotes and light when it comes to any serious analysis.
And, as if that weren’t bad enough, the book has no index – the absolute gravest sin for an author hoping to be taken seriously.
It’s a pity, because Goldberg – a self-described liberal who never voted for a Republican presidential candidate in his life – had the opportunity to offer readers a textured history of liberal bias in the media, how that bias developed and why it’s proven so difficult to dislodge.
Instead, far too much of the book is devoted to settling scores with his former colleagues and bosses at CBS, and in ridiculing the all-too-ridiculous Dan Rather, who, after Goldberg is through with him, comes off looking as arrogant and as asinine as his most strident critics have always insisted he is. (For an equally deflating but better-written portrait of Rather, interested readers should get their hands on a copy of Peter J. Boyer’s classic 1988 book Who Killed CBS?)
Disappointing though it is, Bias has been lionized by conservative reviewers (even by those who, the Monitor suspects, harbor reservations similar to the ones mentioned above), and understandably so: It’s not every day that a veteran journalist – one with impeccable liberal credentials, yet – steps forward and confirms what conservatives have long claimed, usually to the hoots and jeers of editors, reporters and anchors.
As Goldberg amply documents, liberals and liberalism rule the roost in the country’s elite newspapers and TV newsrooms, while conservatives and conservatism are given short shrift at best or treated with outright ridicule at worst.
It should be noted that Goldberg includes a chapter in his book on the media’s politically correct treatment of Arab terrorism and the debilitating double standard to which Israel is constantly subjected. But here, too, the subject is covered in a rushed and far from comprehensive manner. What’s lacking is an incisive examination of what it is in the liberal mindset that finds the Palestinian side of the story so compelling, and why it is that liberals are, by and large, far less supportive of Israel than conservatives.
Notwithstanding the less than enthusiastic review you’ve just read, the Monitor recommends Bias to anyone seeking a glimpse into the inner ideological workings of the media. If you live in Brooklyn, though, and you assume the Brooklyn Public Library has even a single copy for borrowing, assume again. Shamefully, as of Feb. 4 the Brooklyn Public Library had no copies of Bias available anywhere in its system, despite the fact that the book was published months ago and has been at or near the top of the best-seller lists almost from the outset
(As a longtime user of the Brooklyn Public Library system, the Monitor is all too familiar with the phenomenon of books by conservative authors or sympathetic to conservatism appearing on the shelves months after publication, while titles by the most marginal of left-wing authors show up immediately upon release, and often in great abundance.)
There is, by the way, a critique of the liberal media that was published last fall and is superior in nearly every way to Bias. It’s by William McGowan and it’s called Coloring the News: How Crusading for Diversity Has Corrupted American Journalism (Encounter Books). But don’t bother trying to find it at any of the 60 branches of the Brooklyn Public Library.
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org