Flames of the Torch

American viewers can take advantage of a wide array of news sources. Satellite owners can pick up stations such as the BBC, News World International and even Al-Jazeera. We hope that they do take advantage of that variety, if only to provide a balance to an increasingly conservative American news media.

Contrary to frequent allegations of left-wing bias, American media has undergone a significant shift to the right. Consider, for example Michael Savage, who replaced a more liberal Phil Donahue on MSNBC. Savage is an unrepentant and hateful homophobe who talks freely about the “gay and lesbian mafia” and promises, in his national bestselling book, to save America from liberals of any stripe.

NBC fired Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Peter Arnett this week for giving an interview on Iraqi TV and saying that American war plans misjudged Iraqi determination. For all of Arnett’s other faults, he can hardly be guilty of misstating the facts. Richard Perle of the Pentagon Defense Policy board said last July that the Iraqi military would collapse and turn on Hussein “at the first whiff of gunpowder,” and anyone who suggested anything other than a quick war with massive support from the newly liberated Iraqis received sharp criticism

If this were not enough, Fox News has become the number one rated news channel in the United States. Though their mantra is “We report; you decide,” their news ticker openly taunts anti-war protesters and Oliver North serves as an embedded reporter. Meanwhile, the most liberal news commentary is found on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” While television is replete with radical right-wing ideologues, there is silence from any figure more liberal than a moderate Democrat. Where is the counterpart of Bill O’Reily or Pat Buchannan?

This may seem like trivial griping, but these incidents are indicative of a broad trend in American journalism, especially television, and the cost is more than just suffering Savage’s bigotry or Fox’s sensationalism. Without something to balance it, American reportage of international events will grow more slanted and we will lose any sense of perspective.

Given our foreign policy, that’s something we can hardly afford.