Well, as someone who hasn’t got a horse in the race, so to speak, I can view the American media culture of the 2000s with some irony and sadness. I neither enjoy the Democrats nor the Republican, both are, like all European parties, bull-sh*ters but get voted because people are wimps after all.
Now, let’s get to my observation. I have been writing with some American friends (all of them more or less pro-democrats) during the early and late Bush years. They always complained how Bush and Fox NEWS were so dominant that their protests were misrepresented and that the media never reported the truth. A little fact-checking was right on, because seldom was a protest “militant”, but often the government used any means available to suppress other opinions. Of course, while National Radio is in the hands of the Republicans, national television is on the side of the Democrats. This really shows, because Conservative Republicans are old-fashioned and non-mediasavy (at least perceived as such), while the Democrats are known to utilizing the fullest of the 90s media potential (ergo: no internet ;) ) albeit the more shallow version.
Now, while this is more or less an anecdote, it is the basis on which the Democrats could continue their status quo. When Obama got elected and first the stimulus was passed against the will of many people and then the health-care bill against the will of even half of the poll population, the leading Democrats/Leftists-Intellectuals/Media-types shouted that all the grass-root Republican Tea-Partiers are racist and evil. This is not much unlike the Republican reaction to anti-war rallies. They were deemed as unpatriotic and evil, while the tea-partiers are deemed as racists and evil.
I believe none of these claims, because racism is a cheap excuse. If racism were a prevalent American treat, then you’d have seen by now a Nazi-party making nation-wide protest. This is even worse, because the Democrats are as racist as the Republicans. They all protectionist narrow-minded before their God (not a real one but the Washington-based one). How so? They believe that it is only good to deal with Chinese (f.e.) if the US has the upper hand, which means that the Chinese shall stay poor and may not deliver goods that the US produces itself. This is pervasive and hurtful racism, much more dangerous and destructive than the regional Republican version, but that is for a different post.
However, the media always circles around these arguments, because the journalists themselves (especially the politics type) have their opinions (overwhelmingly Democrat) and thus only report towards this bias.
One could believe that in this climate the media would diversify, because 90% TV chains are pro-Democrats and Fox News is Republican. This is an ample opportunity to rather compete with Fox and their huge audience or to compete with a couple of other stations for the other 50 % of the market (Democrats). It is interesting, that they choose to battle for ever smaller Democrat shares, instead to engage Fox News that monopolizes Republicans. Even more interesting is that we can perceive the failings of a monopolist in the Fox News dominance. They miss variety of opinions and are not very debatable. They already have problems to hit the mainstream-Republican, because as monopolist you move slowly. Of course, Fox will be last the TV chain to leave traditional TV for the Internet, because it will be the last big TV network. All others will have given up due to their in-fighting and self-competition in the Democrat market segment.
But reporting got even weaker nowadays, when we can fact-check almost everything, either by reading independent reviews of an event on blogs, or watch independent cell phone videos. It gets harder and harder for the traditional media to slip by their own thoughts rather than what really happened on the ground.
I think this to be a very very healthy trend and hope it will continue, although I think that at some point politicians will destroy the wonderful thing that is the Internet. They will find a way that is supported by the mainstream (child pornography, child protection etc.) to regulate and narrow-mind the internet. The internet-left fears this as much as the internet libertarians, but they see the solution in GOVERNMENT and Net Neutrality. Albeit, both have a long record to actually be an ineffective agent. You only have to look at the FCC, which is ridiculed by Democrats and Libertarians (though Republicans love it), because it is thinking people are stupid and at the same time very ineffective. Now, f.e. Net Neutrality would give regulatory power over the internet into the hands of an agency comparable to the FCC (perhaps even the FCC, why build a new one). And yet, those internet-types believe that this doesn’t spell disaster for freedom of speech on the internet…
Sometimes even the brightest people have stupid ideas. And journalists can write and… well, that’s about it.