L. Brent Bozell III, Founder and President of the Media Research Center, is considered one of the most influential leaders in the conservative movement today. The MRC focuses its efforts as the nation’s premiere watchdog on the exposure and neutralization of “liberal media bias”. Under Bozell’s leadership since 1987, the MRC has expanded its initiatives to include the popular NewsBusters.org blog site; CNSNews.com; the Business and Media Institute; and the Culture and Media Institute. The MRC also includes over 500,000 members and the largest video archive in the world. Additionally, Mr. Bozell is a nationally syndicated columnist.
In this interview from November 11th, 2013, Mr. Bozell weighs in on the success of the MRC and explains why today’s conservative movement should make it a priority to confront liberal bias in the media.
1. You have had many roles in the conservative movement; what sparked you to become an advocate for conservatism?
It’s in the blood, I suppose, on both sides of the family. McCarthy and His Enemies was written by Brent Bozell and Bill Buckley– the one my father, the other my uncle. I grew up in a political household though the irony was that ultimately my father would reject the political in favor of the spiritual.
2. To what do you attribute your success as a leader in the conservative movement?
I should answer snarkily that given the lack of success of the conservative movement in recent years, I question how well I’ve led the movement or influenced anyone. I suspect people would recognize their patience and perseverance. I, however, am impatient by temperament. On the other hand I eschew the game of politics. My goals have always been transparent, as have my actions. I have been denounced for my beliefs but no one serious opponent has ever impugned my motives. Honor breeds respect; respect is a pre-condition for influence. Honor means everything to me.
3. What makes the MRC successful as a watchdog over left-of-center media bias?
Two things, I think. First, it’s the MRC’s middle name — research. Before the MRC there was no quantitative analysis of the media and therefore no scientific documentation about that which is undeniable. Documenting that bias allowed us to expose not just examples but provide empirical evidence of long-term agendas. The combination is deadly, and a continuation of denial by a liberal journalist renders that liberal a flat earther. Second, it’s the MRC’s dedication to marketing: There is nothing the MRC does that lacks a marketing component. If I can’t show impact, I won’t do it at all.
4. Is the liberal media actively changing public opinion or are they just pandering to their audience?
If the liberal media were pandering to their audience they wouldn’t be liberal. Or to put it another way, if the media were pandering to their audience they’d all be Fox News. The left in America has three natural power centers: Academia, the entertainment industry and the news media. All three are communication perches from which to advance the liberal ideology. Note that the word “reporter” has virtually disappeared. No one wants to be a “reporter” because a reporter… reports. No, everyone is now a “journalist,” which (in their mind) allows them to transcend simple reporting. It is why there is such advocacy in the “news” business, in a very real way a contradiction in terms.
5. Is television media becoming irrelevant in the age of Internet? If so, how does the right stay ahead of media bias online?
Increasingly so. The “Big Three” networks aren’t so big anymore: they’ve lost some 50% of their audiences in the past ten years, and their numbers continue to crater. On cable it’s even worse. Consider CNN’s ratings. Its average daily audience is now approximately 300 thousand. In a nation of 310 million. That tells you something about influence. Now, that said, the online footprint enjoyed by some old media outlets — like CNN — is enormous. While television continues to dominate from the standpoint of overall impact, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Indeed we are fast approaching that time when broadcast television and online television will become one and the same.
6. What is the biggest challenge the MRC encounters in attempting to hold the media accountable?
Perhaps it is that not enough conservatives see the importance of fighting the liberal media. As I will not tire saying, fighting the liberal media is our top priority but should be everyone else’s second highest priority, What difference does it make how sound our arguments for tax relief, or how noble our support of life, or how essential our defense of freedom — if everything we believe is chewed up and spat out to the American people by the liberal media? If everyone in the conservative movement were to commit to fighting the leftist press, even if just on their particular issue, the sheer level of opposition to the press would smother it.
7. How do you suggest young conservatives best advocate against media bias in our society?
The Internet has provided us with an opportunity to communicate directly with our audiences, without going through the filter of the liberal press. But we must be focused on two things here.
First, be honorable. At all times be truthful. Never lower yourself to the methods of your opponents, so many who relish the politics of character assassination. It gives them an advantage to do this, to be sure. Dostoevsky told us “without God all things are possible.” The same could be said about truth. Second, follow the rules. It is true that “reporters” constantly violate the rules of journalism in the old media, but in the new media there are those who insist there are no rules to violate. Not so. The “news media” rules apply to everyone, regardless of medium.
Jordan Pic is an intern with America’s Future Foundation. To learn more about other leaders in the liberty-movement, please visit AFF’s Profiles in Liberty.