Magazine October 20, 2008, Issue

Biased and Bonkers

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Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, by James Bowman (Encounter, 134 pp., $20)

Even if he did not write me­dia criticism, James Bowman would be a media critic by example: His original thinking and lucid prose are an implicit rebuke to the cliché-ridden, English-torturing, deep-as-a-bumpersticker discourse that issues from so much of the American media. In Media Madness, Bowman goes Sigmund Freud on press pundits and television blatherers, diagnosing in them a psychosis whose symptoms include paranoia, delusions of objectivity, and gradual withdrawal from reality.

Bowman is complaining not about the media’s lack of objectivity, but about their pretense to it. The myth of objectivity, Bow­man argues, allows the media to relieve themselves of

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