An Interview with “Media Malpractice” Filmmaker John Ziegler About Media Bias in the 2012 Election Campaign
This documentary chronicles the determination of the mainstream media to elect as President of the United States, a two-year Senator with the thinnest resume’ of anyone who has ever ascended to the highest office in the land.
Now Mr. Ziegler will share his thoughts on the 2012 presidential election media environment in an exclusive interview with Myra Adams.
Q. Objective observers believe that mainstream media (MSM) bias played a pivotal role in the 2008 election of Barack Obama and your movie, Media Malpractice, did an excellent job documenting that “malpractice” had in fact occurred. Now that the 2012 presidential election campaign is in full swing do you believe that the MSM is once again “in the tank” for Obama?
A. Yes, but in a very different way than in 2008. Then the “media malpractice” took the form of both errors in commission as well as omission. Now, it is mostly through the omission of negative information about the Obama administration, though they will also, of course, be proactive when it comes to attacking Romney on Obama’s behalf.
In this era when nearly everything is reported somewhere, it is not what is reported, but rather what gets repeated which matters. This makes bias by omission extremely easy because the MSM can always claim plausible deniability by saying they did one story on their website about Fast & Furious for instance. There is zero doubt that the Bush administration would have had no shot at reelection with Obama’s record, but obviously the media has a very different standard for Democrats in general and Obama in particular.
Q. Do you see any media bias in the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling?
A. Obviously the major bias is the way a 5-4 decision is received when it goes “their way” as opposed to “our way”. Also, Roberts is being treated as hero because he didn’t follow the law. Had he followed the law he would have been vilified by the left.
Q. Earlier this month Time magazine featured a favorable cover story on young illegal immigrants titled, “We Are Americans: Just Not Legally.” Then 36 hours later President Obama announced he would not longer deport the young undocumented and “those eligible will receive work permits.”
Shortly thereafter Weekly Standard accused Time of being an Obama Super PAC. Do you think Time magazine was acting as a political arm of the Obama administration?
A. At a certain point it becomes absurd to think that these things happen by coincidence, especially when all of these MSM people clearly think of themselves as being on the same team.
It is no surprise that Time had the early scoop because Obama’s White House press secretary Jay Carney used to be the White House correspondent for Time. Carney, by the way, is in my film being used as an “objective” commentator praising the Obama campaign.
There has been an extreme amount of pro-Obama bias in the coverage of this development and very little coverage (omission bias) of Obama circumventing a standing law by Executive Order or the negative implications on young citizens looking for jobs and college slots. On the positive side, contrary to the conventional media wisdom, I don’t think this issue will play to Obama’s advantage in the campaign.
This Time cover story also reminds me when George Stephanopoulos mysteriously asked numerous questions about birth control at a Republican debate. Team players all of them!
Q. In your opinion, was the American voting public aware of the level of media bias that occurred in 2008 and is occurring yet again in the 2012 election?
A. Yes, but obviously not nearly enough. We did two incredible polls for the film which people can see at www.HowObamaGotElected.com which showed dramatically how little voters knew about Obama’s background but mysteriously knew virtually all of the negative information, some of it incorrect, about Sarah Palin. The primary goal of my film was to try and educate people about the injustice that occurred in 2008 in order to try to prevent it from occurring again in 2012. While the movie was a success on many levels and clearly proved the case, I unfortunately failed in that quest.
Q. Recently Pew Research released a study revealing that Americans are more polarized along partisan lines now than at any point in the past 25 years. What role, if any, is the media playing in this growing polarization that is dividing our nation and obstructing our ability to solve any of our serious problems?
A. There is no doubt that the political media has both created and fed off of the increasing partisan divide. As the MSM got more liberal and lost power it opened the way for Fox News and talk radio. Then, MSNBC went completely off the rails in 2008 creating/following the Obama bandwagon and all bets were off. The internet has only exacerbated the partisan divide in “news” because, much like CNN has found, there is no market share for those pretending to be in the middle because people in the middle just don’t follow the news with any passion.
I wrote a book in 2005 (The Death of Free Speech) in which I predicted that media fragmentation would be one of the most dangerous things to occur to American politics and culture and I think I have been proven to be right.
I actually think it has been bad for conservatism as well because it has created the illusion that we are getting our message out when we are really stuck in our Drudge/Fox News/Talk Radio bubble.
For instance, most conservatives would be shocked to know that, despite all of the coverage it got, a new poll just indicated that less than 50% of the American people are even aware that Obama said that the private sector “is doing fine.”
Q. Are you now collecting media clips for a sequel to Media Malpractice in case Obama wins reelection? If so, do you have a snappy title yet?
A. I should be, but sadly I am not. Media Malpractice was an extraordinary endeavor and a huge risk financially. If Sarah Palin had not given me the only interview she ever really did on this subject then I probably would have been ignored by the media and lost my shirt. (I certainly never would have been asked to appear on the Today Show or The View.)
Also, I am quite sure that if I did a sequel I would get crushed financially. The reality is that the business model is completely broken for a project like that from the conservative perspective unless you are on Fox News on a regular basis or have someone to write you a big check. Unfortunately, neither is the case with me.
Q. What if Governor Romney wins? Do you think right-leaning media will have played a role in his victory?
A. I found it particularly outrageous that a couple of prominent conservative commentators actually voted for Romney in 2008 and then attacked him this time around because they were clearly trying to claim to represent the “Tea Party” faction. I have been very worried that the conservative media would act on the obvious business incentive that they have for Obama to be reelected and maintain him as a juicy target.
There is no doubt that this election will provide an important test of the conservative media. We will be able to tell which members are in it for the cause and which are in it only for the fame and fortune.
So far I have been pleasantly surprised that most of the conservative media is doing a good job fighting for Romney, but I still expect some ratings-driven conservatives to cause some mischief.
Q. Do you see any signs of real “hope and change” coming from the MSM in their coverage of Obama? Is the MSM directing enough of their resources to what many believe are Obama’s failed policies and leadership deficiencies?
A. I think that even the MSM has pretty much given up on the whole “Hope and Change” thing. There is no doubt that the lust they had for Obama in 2008 has faded. In a way he is similar to the Tiger Woods situation. In 2008 both were Supermen, now, both are still huge celebrities but are seen as merely human. The media is still in the tank for both, but the passion is gone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that they won’t have a major impact on the election.
Obviously, there is no doubt that the MSM has not covered the Obama administration in anything remotely close to the way that they did the Bush administration. If George W. Bush had nearly as bad a record as Obama in his first term John Kerry would have won in a landslide.
Q. In what direction do you see media bias trending in the future? For example, with respect to the presidential election of 2016.
A. Unfortunately, I think things are only going to get worse in this area. I am a strong believer that as insidious as the liberal bias in the media is, the ratings bias is even more dangerous. Ratings are ALL that matter in today’s media. Entertainment trumps significance every single day. The inmates are now running what is left of the news asylum.
I actually wish that we could go back to around 1984 when, even though there was not Drudge/Fox News/Talk Radio and the MSM was liberally biased (though Reagan did win in a landslide that year) there was actually real news and it was very difficult for anyone to avoid being at least marginally educated about what was going on. Today, the average American knows far more about the Kardashians than they do about the Obama administration.
As a result, there is no real news any more because news outlets are forced to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Consequently, the public is no longer being informed at a high enough level to sustain a democratic republic. Unfortunately, this means that, unless this somehow changes, the republic will eventually collapse.
Mr. Ziegler, thank you for your time.
My pleasure and I hope your readers take advantage of the fact that Media Malpractice is available for free at both Netflix and Hulu.