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What Liberal Media?: The Truth About Bias and the News

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  609 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The question of whose interests the media protects—and how—has achieved holy-grail-like significance. Is media bias keeping us from getting the whole story? If so, who is at fault? Is it the liberals who are purported to be running the newsrooms, television and radio stations of this country, duping an unsuspecting public into mistaking their party line for news? Or is it ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 5th 2003 by Basic Books (first published 2003)
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Jul 27, 2007 Brennan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While an interesting topic that needs to be analyzed, this book suffers from an author who approaches the topic with tunnel vision. Alterman seems to have his ideas shape his research, often cherry picking examples from simple statements or laying grand conclusions from weak evidence. In addition, the topic is naturally problematic, given that the conservative/liberal bias tends to increase/decrease given one's own political leanings. To pick out a true bias one needs to get beyond how news is p ...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 25, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First rate – very detailed look at right wing media bias and provides much support for the fact that clams of “liberal bias” are the right’s equivalent of screaming at the ump to get a favorable ruling later in the game.
Aug 29, 2011 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Eric Alterman provides the leftist response to Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias, with his own mish-mash of personal vendettas and semi-sourced claims. His vitriol is reserved for those he sees as part of a right-wing noise machine, much of it masquerading as journalists (he takes time out to particularly vilify George Will). He also proclaims that media owned and influenced by corporate titans must be, by definition, conservative - an argument which must be a balm to the heart of socialists everywh ...more
Jul 05, 2008 Gregg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't read the news anyway but still think it's biased
Recommended to Gregg by: The Daily Show
The problem with a book like this: the right people don't read it. It's a total challenge to the ultimate myth: the media slants to the left. Alterman's thesis boils down to two facts: 1) in an effort to avoid liberal bias charges, the media slants itself to the right, and 2) the conservative media slam-dunks the left with the sheer money, resources, and overall support they enjoy that alternative media will always be befeft of.

I wish I could memorize this book. Alterman lists how the media tot
Jan 02, 2015 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an unimpressive presentation on the media's "non-bias". It taught me to look at the media as business entities with thin moral lining more than 'non-liberal'.

After reading this book I realize that media is, indeed, largely liberal! Thanks, Eric!

On the side, I realized this as one who rarely watches TV, listens to NPR, and reads articles from various news sources. When Katrina hit, I turned on the TV in one room - it happened to be on FOX - as my friends in the next room turned on CNN. F
Nov 14, 2015 Jb rated it really liked it
To answer the question, not much, despite sizable propaganda to the contrary. Indeed, it's more like the other way around -- and overwhelmingly so. With 227-pages of tightly packed small print, author convincingly argues that conservatives have forcefully skewed our national discourse rightward. Culprits include media owners, TV pundits, talk-radio bloviators, Wall Street Journal editorial page and multimillionaire funded "think-tanks." In addition, many media outlets are so cowed by the bias my ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Jeanette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely dated book. The bias is so cherry picked in fact and in application that it's basically written for the choir. It doesn't begin to question the assumptions only liberals will instantly make in context and definition. It little questions omissions and altered focus of onus that has occurred for the issues and priorities that are NOT central to liberal marketing and agitation. His tone is also one of occasional vitriol and tending to scornful name calling or disdainful labels. ...more
Matt Baldus
Mar 04, 2016 Matt Baldus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book did a fantastic job of giving me some good insight into my research topic of into ethics surrounding media and journalism. Eric Alterman gives backs up his opinions with facts in the book "What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News." He argues against a claim set up by Bernard Goldberg in his book "Bias" where Goldberg, arguing from a conservative perspective, states that the news media has a severe leftist slant. In this book, Alterman sets out to prove that the news media ...more
Aug 08, 2007 Erik rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Students/Jouralists
Again, take this information with a grain of salt. While Bernard Goldberg was an actual reporter and journalist, Alterman is more of a political pundit. Alterman does bring up good points in his book, however as I wrote before -- bias depends on the person reading it.
Jul 07, 2008 Ivan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well researched, but the author aims this at a solidly liberal audience and makes no attempt to win over any sort of moderate audience. Most of his argument rely on assumptions a large portion of the potential audience will not agree with.
Alterman has provided me with enough evidence in the first 150 pages that I don't feel it necessary to trudge through the remainder of this fact laden book when my mind is begging to be captivated by a story. Where is the half-read shelf?
Aug 04, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually meet the author, he came to uwgb to talk and then talk to our class after words, maybe he was distracted but he came off kind of dickish, smart man don't get me wrong and great book
Andrew Georgiadis
Alterman is probably the most egomaniacal, self-aggrandizing, insufferable read for someone as liberal as myself. His arguments are steeped in he-said-she-said-about-my-column BS.
Scott Goddard
If you're looking for a light read, then I can assertively say this will not be an enjoyable book. If you're a national to any country other than the US, it will be even more difficult to read. All throughout the book the author constantly alludes to or directly references American journalists (so many in fact that I'm surprised he hasn't exhausted all of them). Unacquainted with almost all I have to hurriedly skip over them, as a quick Google search of each would turn into a disruption every mi ...more
Oct 31, 2007 Tracy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Painfully unnecessary tedium.
Oct 14, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Don’t believe the conservative talking points!

Even though it was published in 2004, Eric Alterman’s WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?: THE TRUTH ABOUT BIAS AND THE NEWS is just as relevant and insightful today, as the 2008 election cycle begins to heat up. From the mainstream media’s misogynist slurs against Hillary Clinton to their love affair with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain (note to Chris Matthews: the media isn’t supposed to be ANY candidate’s “base”), the total lack of a liberal bias, even
Mark R.
Mar 09, 2009 Mark R. rated it really liked it
Eric Alterman's book "What Liberal Media?" is an intriguing, inciteful, and frequently entertaining investigation into the often taken-for-granted notion that the news media skews left, as opposed to right or center.

Alterman, a self-described liberal, explores the various methods of news media--radio, television, and print--and sites specific examples of a conservative point of view being expressed in all three. To the point that there is much more of a conservative, than a liberal, bias in medi
The valuable content saves the irritating writing from two-star status. Alterman makes a convincing argument, a necessary one as well (perhaps not as timely 10 years after the fact, but the general premise holds and is absolutely relevant today since the same "liberal media" charges continue to be constantly tossed around). The chapters on Gore were particularly illuminating for me since I was just coming into my political awareness at the time and was still not paying very close attention to th ...more
May 28, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it
Okay, this is a polemic, but a good one -- Alterman attacks the long standing charge conservatives lodge at liberals, that the media is inherently biased towards liberal opinion. Alterman links this philosophy back to the Nixon Administration's attacks against the liberal academic "ivory towers" critics of the Vietnam War made by Spiro Agnew, and works his way through the Reagan years, the de-regulation of the airwaves, the rise of conservative talk radio, Fox News, conservative journals like th ...more
May 10, 2016 Stacey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. Focuses on the 2000 election and 9/11 but suggests a lot about how we got to the craziness of the 2016 campaign just the same.
Ryan Kittleson
Aug 11, 2008 Ryan Kittleson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it is often a slow read and tends to meander into less-relevant side stories, this book does a great job of revealing how the conservative-manufactured image of the media being liberal has actually made it more right-leaning than it was ever charged with being left-leaning. It shows how underhanded conservatives have been exremely successful at creating a myth that the media is liberal. Alterman uses iron clad facts and logic to prove that the media as a whole in America is quite conser ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: non-fiction
You might think you know how to kick ass and take names, but Eric Alterman really shows you how it's done. My absolute favorite aspect of this book is how well documented and credibly sourced every single comment is. It's the hallmark of a good reporter and Alterman really earns his stripes in What Liberal Media?. If that wasn't enough, he packed this book with example after example of mass media malfeasance which really strikes a chord that resonates, especially if you are hapless news wonk suc ...more
Kai Palchikoff
Debunks stereotype
Jul 16, 2008 Quannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very in-depth look at the "liberal media" myth that continues to be expounded by the right. Alterman cites example after example of how the media has lurched to the right over the past 30 years, and how the "liberal media" doesn't really exist in the Mainstream Media anymore.

Well researched, well cited, well documented. A very good book if you're interested in the role the media is playing in the public sphere.
Dec 21, 2007 Ellis rated it it was amazing
Good Grief! I read this book because of the title. It was the first book I read about the terribly conservative slant to America's media. It was a real eye opener. I'm glad that it identified many of the conservative think tanks (with not so far right-sounding names), and their funding, that are behind so much American thought. Everyone should read this book.
Aug 07, 2008 Vince rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decided to read one book from the left and one book from the right in regards to the media. Of the two from a purely subjective point of view this book comes across as the more analytical book. A lot of his statement are backed up by fact, but still come across as slightly arrogant. I wouldn't say its a must read, but its an interesting point of view read.
Brian Ridge
Jun 03, 2010 Brian Ridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Every time I hear soem right-wing talking head blather on about the "liberal media" I want to hit them over the head with this book. It's an excellent read...
Phil Mitchell
Aug 30, 2009 Phil Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really high level thinker. First he speaks kindly of media personalities and then in the next paragraph he destroys their credibility.
Feb 16, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
another in a long line of books that has made me totally cynical about the world - read multiple times
Aug 24, 2008 Frederick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched and well argued. Thought provoking. Can I get my news from Canada?
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Eric Alterman is an American English teacher, historian, journalist, author, media critic, blogger and educator. His political weblog named Altercation was hosted by from 2002 until 2006, by Media Matters for America until December 2008, and now is hosted by The Nation.
Alterman began his journalism career in 1983, freelancing originally for The Nation, The Washington Monthly, The New Rep
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“Journalists usually treat anything as true if someone in a position of ostensible authority is willing to say it, even anonymously (and if no one is going to sue over it). The accuracy of anyone’s statement, particularly if that person is a public official, is often deemed irrelevant. If no evidence is available for an argument a journalist wishes to include in a story, then up pop weasel words such as “it seems” or “some claim” to enable inclusion of the argument, no matter how shaky its foundation in reality. What’s more, too many journalists believe that their job description does not require them to adjudicate between competing claims of truth. Sure, there are “two sides”—and only two sides—to every story, according to the rules of objectivity. But if both sides wish to deploy lies and other forms of deliberate deception for their own purposes, well, that’s somebody else’s problem.” 1 likes
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