Al Gore is making the rounds of talk shows, shilling two books he and Tipper threw together. He's trying to drum up some excitement for his upcoming shot at losing another election by pretending he hasn't made a decision yet. It's not working. This is a man who could bore people if he stood barefoot in a bucket of water while sticking his tongue in a light socket. "Oh, it's just Gore. Change the channel."
There has been one surprise in this book tour, though. Gore is claiming that the news media has a right wing bias. Anyone who has read his book "Earth in the Balance" knows that his grasp on reality is tenuous at best, but we had no idea he was this far out of it. In a world where 90% of the reporters are democrats, and nearly everyone behind the scenes, from the writers to the camera men, are on the left hand side of politics, Gore imagines a right wing bias.
Like most lefties, Gore is really, really pissed with the Fox News Channel (FNC). Nearly all of broadcast news, from CNN to The Daily show, displays a consistent liberal bias. In most cases it's not huge, but it's there and it's obvious. Along comes FNC, with a consistent conservative bias, and the lefties freak as if it were the end of the world. They ignore the fact that Fox presents far more opposing viewpoints than lefty stations. All they see is that they've lost the monopoly on the news, and they're angry. And since they don't see the regular media as biased, they incorrectly believe that FNC is far more conservative than it really is.
Such a viewpoint may seem unfathomable, but The Hittman Chronicle's motto of the moment is "Helping You Understand Stuff since 1999." So we present our first ever cut-out project that will explain just where Gore, and other misguided demagogues on both sides of the isle, are coming from.
First, print out this page, and paste it to thin cardboard, which should be left over from the shirt you lost paying your taxes. Then cut out both the wheel and the back plate. Attach the wheel to the back plate with a pin, and line up "Center" with "Unbiased."
Most people claim their politics are middle of the road, with the exception of an issue or two. I've heard this claim from people who leaned so far to the left or the right it was a wonder they didn't fall over. Yet these unbalanced people insisted they were centrists. This handy wheel will help you understand their viewpoints.
Imagine, for instance, that you're goofy enough to think that CNN is unbiased. Line up "CNN" with "Unbiased" and you'll see that Fox News moves farther to the right. Now imagine that you're extra special super goofy, and think NPR is unbiased. Now CNN becomes part of the vast right wing conspiracy.
Now try it from the other direction. If you're silly enough to think Fox News is unbiased, and line up the wheel accordingly, CNN appears farther to the left than it really is, and NPR approaches the Looney category. Line up Limbaugh with the center, and all the media moves much further to the left. (Of course, Rush dosn't claim to be a centrist, so it would be more accurate to line him up with the right, where he thinks he is.)
Note that as you spin the wheel, the more extreme viewpoints on the favored side get closer to reasonable territory. This illusion fools extremists into thinking stupid things make perfect sense.
Finally, to understand the upside-down viewpoint of Gore, line him up with "Unbiased." Now you can understand how his badly skewed view makes nearly all the media appear to be right wing.
Appearing on one side or the other isn't necessarily a bad thing. I personally prefer news media that wear their bias up front, obviously and honestly, rather than pretending they are impartial. I like NPR, and take their obvious bias into account whenever I listen to them. I also enjoy O'Reilly, and consider his bias when listening to his analysis of the day's events.
This is a wheel, not a line, and when you go far enough in either direction the far left and far right come together. For instance, while the rhetoric of Andrea Dworkin and Jerry Falwell may seem different, if you pay attention to their actions instead of their words you'll find little difference between them. They both want to use social pressure and legislation to force their views on others. They're both in the same place - just as far as they can get from a reasonable middle ground.
You'll notice that there are no media outlets at the exact center of the wheel, reflecting a perfectly unbiased viewpoint. They don't exist. If they did, they would be as dull as, well, Al Gore on tour.
The wheel isn't perfect, and of course reflects my own biases. For instance, I may have put Hillary on the wrong side of Mao. Feel free to modify it to better reflect your personal biases by moving what's there to the right or the left and adding your own villains and heroes. The next time you hear someone complaining about bias, figure out where they belong on the wheel, pencil them in, adjust accordingly, and you'll be able to understand just why their view is so badly skewed.
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Footnote: Just a few hours before I published this article, Al appeared on 60 minutes and announced he wasn't going to run. I was amazed, flabbergasted, and happy I hadn't bet on it. I considered rewriting the first two paragraphs, but what the hell, its about time The Hittman Chronicle got a prediction wrong.
The inside story from someone who has been there.
© 2002 Dave Hitt