Forget about fake moon landings and Obama's birth certificate. The most enduring unfounded conspiracy theory in America is that our institutions of knowledge – the media, the academy and even science -- are biased in favor of liberals.
The national media is based in large urban centers, so it should come as no surprise that conservatives would rarely see their views on strictly social issues well represented. But on matters of substance, we are talking about a corporate-owned media that pushes relentlessly for "free trade" deals, foreign wars and fiscal "austerity."
In my book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy
, I discuss how, beginning in the early 1970s, a number of wealthy conservative donors have invested in the development of what I call a parallel “intellectual infrastructure,” ostensibly designed to counter the liberal bias they saw all around them. They funded dozens of corporate-backed think tanks, endowed academic chairs, and created their own dedicated and distinctly conservative media outlets.
But the Right’s messaging isn't confined to the conservative media, in part because of the relentless pressure on newsrooms from conservative activists – it's an example of “working the refs.”
At times, media outlets are open about their attempts to curb criticism from the Right by giving more space to conservatives. Last year, when the Philadelphia Inquirer came under fire for giving a column to torture memo author John Yoo, editorial page editor Harold Jackson told the New York Times, “There was a conscious effort on our part to counter some of the criticism of the Inquirer as being a knee-jerk liberal publication ...We made a conscious effort to add some conservative voices to our mix.”
The Inquirer also hired former Senator Rick Santorum to weigh in on the events of the day. Santorum and Yoo joined right-wing radio host Michael Smerconish. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters noted the context surrounding the move:
Keep in mind that the Inquirer serves a hugely Democratic city in a state that, according to voting patterns, is galloping away from the GOP. But under pressure from the right, the Inquirer scrambles to hire a discredited voice like Yoo's, and a politician like Santorum, who PA. voters overwhelmingly rejected at the polls.
This week, John Merline, opinion editor for AOL News, offered more evidence that conservative views are more-than-adequately represented in the supposedly “liberal” media. "When it comes to conservatives,” he wrote, “reporters can't seem to get enough of them."
Indeed, a Pew Research Center survey found...MORE