Book Review: What Liberal Media by Eric Alterman (2003): Day One

Well, my friends, this book review represents a departure from those which have come before it. I ordered a copy of Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News in paperback and have decided to test the new paint job in our bedroom by reading a flingable book in it. This book fits that bill already. So, in lieu of sticking a number of Post-It Notes ™ in it and then writing a couple of paragraphs when the heat of the reading is cool, I thought I might let you in on my thought processes as I read the book.

So, day one:


  • Page xi, in the Preface and Acknowledgements, for crying out loud. Alterman acknowledges missing the works of Robert Caro as he (Alterman) pursues an advanced degree in history–so he (Alterman) listens to the complete works of Caro on tape. Cheez, Louise, Alterman, that’s not scholarship, that’s killing time. When you listen to books on tape, they flow past you in a stream of someone else’s conscious narration, and once the words are past, they’re gone; you’re at the whim of the break in the tracks if you want to listen to a section over again, which is why I rarely do.

    Mostly I listen to books on tape to kill time on long drives to Milwaukee and back, or I used to do them when I had an hour long commute from work (or an hour and a half commute from work to my sweetie’s home, a quarter of the way across the state. If you’re listening to books for twenty minutes at a crack, you’re not paying them much attention. Cripes, I would not dare try to impress upon my mind the serious works of Tacitus or Gibbons through books on tape; I’d require the opportunity to re-read sentences until I grasped their very meaning. Alterman admits he–in pursuit of a college degree, for crying out loud (or swearing out loud in my case)–did less. It’s less respect to Caro on Alterman’s part than I am paying to Alterman, but it’s too late for me to borrow the abridged audio version of Alterman’s work, so I am stuck with my dollar’s worth (plus Quality Paperback Club’s Postage and Handling) of print. Heaven help me, and you, gentle reader.

    Fortunately for the both of us, I skimmed the rest of the acknowledgements.

  • pp1-2 in the Introduction, a lot of name dropping, but I disagree. Whereas Bernard Goldberg and Ann Coulter quote people to indicate bias and slander, Alterman quotes people who indicate there is not bias nor slander. Goldberg and Coulter’s quotes represent primary sources, that is, indications that illustrate their points; when Alterman quotes sources who say there is no bias, it’s the equivalent of hearsay, since he’s not actually illustrating non-bias, but rather people saying there is not bias.
  • p2 in the Introduction, Alterman quotes Pat Buchanan, for crying out loud, as though he (Buchanan) were a member of mainstream-right thought. Who are you kidding?
  • p3 in the Introduction, Alterman refers to Ann Coulter as a blonde bombshell pundette. Ad homenim as Alterman points out that Coulter is an attractive (hem) woman, and hence should be judged lesser than, say, a homely man such as Alterman.
  • p3 in the Introduction FIRST TOSSING POINT this comes a couple lines later:

    In recent times, the right has ginned up its “liberal media” propoganda machine. Books by both Ann Coulter, a blond bombshell pundette, and Bernard Goldberg, former CBS News producer, have topped the best-seller lists, stringing together such a series of charges that, well, it’s amazing neither one sought to accuse “liberals” of using the blood of conservative children for extra flavor in their soy-milk decaf lattes. [Emphasis mine.]

Got that? Alterman is saying that Coulter and Goldberg might as well have committed “blood libel.” The tradition to which “Mister” Alterman alludes says Jews use the blood of Gentile/Palestinian children in Zionist rituals of some sort or another. It’s often repeated these days in the Arab media to support the tradition of strapping explosives to Believers, women, and children to blow up Israeli civilians whose crime is stopping at a market or drinking coffee in a particular cafe. Damn you, Eric Alterman. I curse you only to the fate you deserve, whatever form it might take.

I would like to take a moment to apologize to Ajax and Tristan, the felines scared when I flung this book from my hands (towards the door, not the labouriously-painted walls) and to my beautiful wife, whom I upset with my foaming-mouth invective for Eric Alterman. You all deserve a better refuge when trying to sleep. I shall try to read this book alone, with a schnucking hammer with which to beat it, in the future for your peace of mind.

Day: 1
Pages read: 6.5
Chapters: Prefaces and Acknowledgements, Introduction (part of)