Ack! This discussion keeps getting longer and longer. I decided that it was time to step back, review the entire discussion, and try to get a grip on the fundamentals. So I went back and re-read every comment you and I made. I examined every one of your many links. They had a lot of problems. First, the academic papers you cite are all behind paywalls, so I had to be satisfied with the abstracts, which provide the conclusions without the evidence. Second, many of your citations are to opinion pieces from authors with obvious agendas. Citing somebody else’s opinion to bolster your own opinion doesn’t work for me.

I decided that, rather than use a shotgun and flood you with a thousand petty arguments, I should zero in on the single most compelling argument. And that argument is that there is no way to establish “the truth” against which we can measure bias. A good example of the impossibility of establishing the truth is the matter of the Iranian nuclear program. There’s no question that they have some sort of nuclear program; there are uncertainties about the amount of progress they have made and the degree to which it represents a weapons program. You cite a story that flatly denies the existence of any Iranian nuclear weapons program. This story is contradicted by a great many facts as well as some statements by the Iranian government. Yet the Iranian government also denies having a nuclear weapons program. How can we establish the truth when the Iranian government contradicts itself?

I can’t think of any policy issue for the truth is clearly established. It’s certainly clear that climate change is caused by anthropogenic emissions of carbon, but the best response to it entails a great many assumptions. If one newspaper argues for a cap and trade system and another argues for carbon taxes, there’s no way to say which approach is better.

Your specific accusations are that “the media” are biased against workers and in favor of war. I deny all absolute claims as to the virtue of labor unions. They’ve done lots of good for the world, but they also have imposed unnecessary costs on the world. I was once helping at a conference at a convention center in San Francisco, and I got into trouble for carrying a box of stuff from my car to the exhibit. The contract with the labor unions requires all portage of materials to be carried out by members of the labor union. Seriously, that’s ridiculous and makes the world a worse place. At the same time, I’m sure that the same unions have improved the working conditions of their members. There is no black and white answer to the question as to whether the labor union is good or bad, and so it’s impossible to determine whether any report is fair or unfair.

On the matter of warmongering, we again run into the problem of determining which wars are justified and which aren’t. I was strongly opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003; most Americans were in favor. Fox News published lots of stories about brave and noble American soldiers fighting their way to Baghdad. Is it wrong to tell these stories? There were also stories of atrocities carried out by American soldiers. But if a news editor has a great photograph of an American soldier giving chocolate to a little girl, and an unverified accusation by an Iraqi that an American soldier ran over his dog, which story should the news editor publish? And does a decision either way comprise bias?

There certainly is bias in some cases. Fox News is obviously biased to the right. Daily Kos is obviously biased to the left. There are just too many voices here to summarize it all in a single statement. I suggest that you examine this chart to get an idea of the complexity of the situation.

Master of Science, Physics, 1975. Computer Game Designer. Interactive Storytelling. www.erasmatazz.com

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