More than thirty years ago University of Rochester economists William Meckling and Michael Jensen authored a thought-provoking article on the sources of "liberal bias" in the media. Being Chicago School-style economists, their thesis was based, naturally, on a rigorous exploration of how the media best pursue their own self-interest, coupled with an analysis of the role of government in shaping that self-interest. In short, their thesis was that government had by that time become so big and pervasive that your average journalist — even local news reporters — relied on government itself and all of its politicians and bureaucrats for most of the information that they "report." If one is an environmental reporter, for example, one must cultivate relationships with EPA bureaucrats who are the source of the latest news about environmental policy. If one is a labor reporter, one must cultivate relationships with U.S. Department of Labor bureaucrats who are the source of the latest news about labor policy, and so on.
Consequently, any news reporter who is too critical of the government agencies that he is reporting about risks being cut off from his information sources, the lifeblood of his career, which will then be ruined. (A glaring example of this phenomenon is how former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich ordered all of his appointees to refuse to talk to anyone associated with the Baltimore Sun, which had been hyper-critical of him and his administration).
Thus, according to Jensen and Meckling, career self-preservation among journalists requires that they essentially become lapdogs and mouthpieces for the state. They will tolerate and occasionally report about inconsequential and marginal criticisms of the state, such as those made by some of the D.C. "libertarian" think tanks, in order to delude the public into believing that there is actually a public policy debate in Washington. But whenever someone with the views of Congressman Ron Paul appears who challenges the very propriety and existence of any statist central planning institution (such as the Fed), the media will ignore and/or demonize him and everyone associated with his views.
I believe that the Jensen/Meckling theory is correct as far as it goes, but it omits some other important elements of the sources of the statist bias of the media. Murray Rothbard filled in these gaps in his two essays entitled "The Nature of the State" and "Anatomy of the State." All governments, Rothbard wrote, rely crucially on a set of myths and superstitions about its alleged greatness and benevolence, coupled with accompanying lies, myths and superstitions about the "evils" of freedom, voluntarism, private enterprise, and the civil society. These myths and superstitions are not spread by government bureaucrats as much as by various intellectual prostitutes in academe and in the media. The "court historians" of academe spin tall tale after tall tale about the alleged need for more and more government (Keynesian economics would be a good example), while these ideas are spread about to the general public by pundits and journalists.
This, too, is why the media ignore Ron Paul. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part they have invested many years of schooling and work as propaganda mouthpieces for the state. They are as much a part of the state apparatus as is any government bureaucrat or any politician. They are the essential tool of the state in dumbing down the general population so that it will peacefully acquiesce in the never-ending expansion of the state and the financial enrichment of all its functionaries, while losing their own freedom and prosperity at the same time. They are the paid professional liars who repeat, over and over, such absurdities as: "Higher taxes and more government spending will make us prosperous;" "taking naked x-ray photographs of everyone passing through airports is constitutional;" "the Constitution gives the president the right to bomb any country on the planet without consulting with anyone else, especially the Congress"; "the founding fathers thought it would be a good idea to place everyone's freedom in the hands of five government lawyers with lifetime tenure (i.e., supreme court justices)"; "healthcare socialism will cause health care costs to decline"; "recessions and depressions are caused by sudden outbursts of greed and animal spirits" (according to John Maynard Keynes); "capitalists get rich by selling people products that harm or even kill them"; and on and on and on.
Having spent their entire careers spreading such absurd lies, the appearance of an educated, articulate truth teller like Congressman Ron Paul absolutely terrifies the media, for Ron Paul threatens to expose them, once and for all, as the frauds and enemies of the free society that they are. That is why it is imperative that the media do everything in its power to ignore and demonize Ron Paul and his millions of freedom-loving supporters. So far, the biggest stumbling block in the way of the old media is the new media and Web sites like LewRockwell.com, which one can only hope will someday soon cause the demise of the gang of liars, deceivers, and propagandists known as "the mainstream media."
Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution — And What It Means for America Today.