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My irreverent yet conservative opinion on topics relevant to the cosmos.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I've been reading Bernard Goldberg's new book Bias of late, and am almost through with it. First off, let me say that it is an incredibly self-righteous book. Goldberg's focus is as much on his own loss of prestige within CBS as it is on the overarching problem of left-wing bias in the media. Goldberg's personal struggle would be more relevant if, as he would like us to believe, the article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 1996 on the problem of bias in the media was badly received solely because he was pointing out a legitimate problem in his industry. In point of fact, the article attacks one of Goldberg's colleagues, a fellow named Eric Engberg, personally, and besmirches the reputation of CBS specifically. As one of Goldberg's colleagues noted following the publication of the journal piece, "What do you think would have happened to you if you worked at IBM and did something like this?" Whistleblowers are not exactly considered team players in most industries. Goldberg's response to this point is to claim that the the media ought to have a higher standard when it comes to self-criticism. Maybe so, but it's easy to say when it isn't your segment that was ripped to shreds in a national publication. Futhermore, Goldberg did not take the required action of receiving approval from CBS before submitting the article for publication, a point which he glosses over as insignificant. In any case, halfway through the book I was already sick of hearing about how Goldberg was maligned by CBS for the simple crime of telling the truth (which just so happened to involve publicly attacking his employer and colleagues) and how unfair they were for taking him off the air.

That said, Bias is worth reading, partly for the occasional revealing anecdote (many of which had already reached me by word-of-mouth long before I read the book) such as film critic Pauline Kael's reaction to Nixon's landslide '72 victory ("'I can't believe it!' she said. 'I don't know a single person who voted for him!'"). While several of the chapters center on very old ideas (the myth of heterosexual AIDS, the sudden increase in stories on the homeless when a Republican occupies our nation's top office) the detailed report that Goldberg is able to give as an insider is well worth reading. Several chapters focus on more novel instances of bias, one of these being the networks' failure to put blacks in newsmagazine stories because they fear white middle-class viewers won't be interested in people so different from themselves--yet another instance of media elites underestimating their viewers. The divergent viewing habits of white and black television consumers is also discussed, and I for one was surprised to learn how few shows are watched by both blacks and whites (Touched by an Angel and Law and Order being some of the rare contenders in that category). In conclusion, I recommend at least skimming through this book, though for anyone who reads conservative publications regularly, little of what Goldberg has to say will come as a surprise.

I'll blog a bit more shortly, but for now I just wanted to post a link to this interesting article, appearing in the NY Times of all places, which discusses the problems children from the Fujian province in southeastern China have in adapting to public schools in New York. I mostly found this article interesting because of the immensely difficult bargain these children's parents struck in sending their infants back to their homeland, and because the sequence of these children's lives is so out of sync with what I had presumed to be the natural trend of immigration (parents feel out-of-place, but children are quick to adapt).

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