Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved. Direct inquiries to CIS I.D

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Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved. Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341. ___________________________________________________________________________ Media Finds No Evidence of Bias (Surprise!) I've been hearing a lot about media bias lately, so I thought it serendipitious that I found myself standing next to Tom Ratherson while waiting on line at the bank. You probably know about him; he just hosted a 'White Paper' on bias, in color, on TV. He was standing in the line for gold futures; I was queued-up at mutual funds. Peekaboo! I knew who he was, and I wanted to talk to him, but he had no reason to want to speak to me. Fortunately, I had one of those rare inspirations: I said, "Bias." "Myth," he rumbled. "Sham. Hoax. Illusion." Then he turned to look at me. His expression was a thing of distasteful fastidiousness. "Poppycock!" I said: "Bias." He sniffed. "Unsubstantiated. Undemonstrated. Unsupported. Unproved." "Bias," I said. "Unwarranted," he replied. "Self-serving. Inconsiderate. Insulting." "..." I tugged at my chin. "I watched your White Paper..." "Oh, did you?" He looked flattered. He dusted some imaginary lint off the lapel of his jacket. "...most intriguing." "So glad you enjoyed it..." "...would you say, just in general, that what is covered by TV news is reality?" He gave me an almost-tolerant smile. "Yes, of course. The news is concerned with nothing if not reality." "...and that an issue that warrants a TV news special report is indisputably real?" "...well," he hedged, "sure." I said: "Bias." "Not the same thing!," he sputtered. "My show was not about bias, but about not-bias!" "'Not-bias'?" He was back to being smugly confident. "Of course. I couldn't do a show about bias, because there isn't any. As I have proved, the so-called Leftist Media Bias is a pre-fabricated, plastic illusion foisted off on us by maniacally constipated, deranged, reactionary, heartless, war-mongering right-wing imperialists." "...and emphatically =not= your impetus for choosing those words and no others...?" "No, of course not..." His face wore that 'once-bitten' look. He parried warily, "Every authority agrees that there is no Leftist Media Bias..." "Did I say anything about Leftist...?" He looked like he wanted to bite his tongue. "Well!," he burst, "if you want to talk about a Conservative Bias, yes, of course, there is one! Look at CNN! Look at C=B=N! Look at the hometown gazette!" "Hmmm. So there's a rightward bias in low-influence outlets, but no leftward bias among the influential media?" "No," he said firmly. "Every survey shows that no one believes the whining of the demented, militarist fascists when they claim that the major media are biased against their program of eternal impoverishment and mass genocide." "...I thought it was very interesting, how you got all those editors and producers to agree that there is no bias..." "Well, what else could they say? After all, there isn't one!" "...Grenada," I said. "Gunboat diplomacy!" "Yellow rain." "Bee feces!" He looked even more fastidious. "Forced labor camps." "CIA propaganda!" I said: "Ethiopia." "Unavoidable! Incredible natural disaster!" "...Gorbachev." He smiled. "Cosmopolitan." "Chernekov." "Avuncular." "Andropov." He buffed his nails. "Sophisticated." "...Stalin." "uh... Hard-working!" Exploring the perimeters of not: "Arms race..." "Our fault!" "Space Defense Initiative..." "Futile and suicidal!," he asserted. He spat out with contempt: "=Star= Wars!" "Sub-minimum wage..." "Profiteering on the poor!" "Acid rain..." "Exporting pollution!" "Nuclear power..." "Mass murder!" "Comparable worth..." "A necessary expedient!" "Tax simplification..." "Handouts to the rich!," he seethed. "Deficit..." "Reagan's fault!!" Deep breath. "Jane Fonda..." "Uh," he said. "A great humanitarian!" I said: "Bias." Ratherson was angry. "Balderdash!," he bellowed. A granny on the Seniors queue gave him a stern look. "Bias," I said. "Not-bias!," he replied, making an effort to keep his voice down. "...tax cuts." "Stealing from the poor to give to the rich!" "Deregulation." "Harmful!" "Privatization." "Dangerous! Self-delusionary!" "Enterprise Zones." "Make-believe! A myth!" "Tuition tax-credits." "White flight!" "Social Security." His expression was pious: "Our Sacred Heritage!" "...," I said. "...'Rambo'." "Fantasyland," he sneered. "A fascist's wet dream." I said: "Bias." "Nonsense!" # # #

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