Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Brian Williams Is THE MAN!

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams gave a commencement speech at the Ohio State University over the weekend, and told graduates that it's up the them to "fix this country". Conservative media critics, always on the lookout to attack "liberal media bias", were quick to pounce on this. Williams gave them plenty to rant about. He even encouraged the young people to get out and be active campaigners during this fall's election! If THAT's not liberal bias, then what is? After all - ALL 20-somethings will obviously support Barack Obama, won't they?

I have never met Brian Williams, but I did see him speak once at a Radio-TV News Directors Association function, and he was one of the most natural "regular guy" speakers I have ever seen. He's a college dropout from New Jersey - a plain speaker and one of the funniest people I've ever seen at a microphone. My good friend, Scott Wykoff, actually met Williams, and said he was very enthusiastic and eager to support local radio guys like us.

Brian Williams knows DC well, by the way... He attended both GW and Catholic Universities, and he replaced Maury Povich on "Panorama" on Channel 5 back in the day...

Anyway - back to the point of my blog entry... To me, there are a couple of reasons that members of the media get pinned with the "liberal bias" tag...

1. - Because Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity say it's so. If you listen to them, and other conservative talk hosts, blaming the media is about 80 percent of their shtick. They tell their audiences the media is not only biased, but that there is a liberal media conspiracy. These hosts conveniently fail to mention that they are also members of the media, that they do, in fact, conspire to attack liberals. It never failed to amaze me when I was at WMAL how often we would get complaints from our own listeners attacking our news coverage as liberal - especially since our news was pretty much tailored to a conservative audience. We were attacked because our own hosts were telling their listeners to do so.

2. - Because some people don't think news anchors can have opinions. When news people do share opinions, whether they betray a political bent in one direction or not, it sets off critics who automatically pounce... even if it's something as innocuous as a commencement speech. Brian Williams says the country is broken. Can you find one political candidate who would not agree with that sentiment? It sounds more that a little defensive to get upset about the country being broken - as though it specifically targets the White House. The last I checked, Congress was just as unpopular as the GOP President - and IT's controlled by the Democrats! - A pox for everyone's house!

3 - Because it's kinda true. Sorry folks - most of the news that's fit to print - and broadcast - in this country is produced in New York and Washington, DC - by journalists who were largely educated at northeast liberal arts universities. And aside from any inbred bias, keep in mind that journalists are trained from day one to not take sides. The general public finds this concept hard to grasp sometimes. For the most part, people watch and read the news to reaffirm their own particular points of view... And when the news does not do that, it prompts consumers to take a "if you're not with me, you're against me" stance. Hence the dreaded "liberal media" problem.

Anyway - decide for yourself... Here's the entire Brian Williams commencement speech at Ohio State - It runs more than 13 minutes, but I think you'll discover after just a couple of minutes that Brian Williams speaks the truth with humor and grace...

Or maybe I'm just biased.

1 comment:

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Great post! I was there in person to watch my son graduate and Brian Williams was very well-received.