Check out this long, infuriating, and excellent column by Jamison Foser of Media Matters (via Atrios). It's all about the media's persistent Republican bias, and how they fit the two parties into consitently pro-Republican/anti-Democratic storylines. Democrats are calculating and phony while Republicans are bold and authentic; Democratic scandals are sexy and easy to understand while Republican ones are boring and complicated; Democratic personal lives are fair game, Republican personal lives are sacrosanct.
Foser basically says that this is the single most important thing in our country right now, and he's absolutely right. None of the many Republican disasters we have had (and the lack of consequences for same) would have been possible without the media consistently pushing the Republican narrative.
I believe that Foser did, however, miss a few opportunities:
1) While he debunked the idea that not all Clinton/Democratic scandals are sex-related, he neglected to mention that some Bush/Republican ones are, i.e., the Jeff Gannon and "Hookergate" stories. The collective media shrug over a male prostitute being waved into the White House press corps was what convinced me beyond all doubt that the media is actively complicit, rather than merely buffeted by Republican pressure and the quest for ratings and profits.
2) This one is nitpicky, but Foser didn't speculate on motive, didn't say anything about how most media outlets are owned by corporate conglomerates and/or right-wing lunatics. He might have just been taking that as a given, and focusing more on the methodology.
3) I would have liked to see Foser talk about the media's significance a little more. Because most people get all their news from them, the mainstream media effectively define and control reality itself. And the fact that Bush's approval ratings ever go up, and that he has gotten away with such baldfaced lies as denying that he ever said he didn't care about bin Laden, suggest to me that far too many people rely on the media more than their own memories to tell them what happened in the past. The media have far more power than people realize, and they abuse it mercilessly.
4) This is really out of the scope of Foser's article, but it's something I'm desperate to hear: How do we fix the media? Can it be fixed directly (i.e., Fairness Doctrine - which I think can be easily gamed) or indirectly (i.e., ownership rules - which I think would just nibble at the edges of the problem)? My personal belief if that it can only happen through a media crisis/scandal that both forces them to clean up their act, and exposes their true bias for all to see. Media control over reality is not as effective if everyone knows that they're being fed pure right-wing propaganda, and adjusts accordingly.