Spheres of influence

Galen's got some commentary on my post about influence and bias in journalism and medicine. And although he graciously identifies his political bent, he stays mum on his stance re: NoFreeLunch.

But hey, I'm staying quiet, too. I've got interviews coming up, and don't want to stake any positions more inflammatory than "the media could do a better job". (If a residency director ever quotes blogborygmi back to me in an interview, I will either rank that program #1 or claim someone has chosen my name as a pseudonym).

Anyway, I came across two interesting quotes about bias in journalism, and the state of the media:

"I think what happened to the media is ambition and stardom have overwhelmed purpose. People always talk about how there's a liberal bias and a conservative bias. But the main bias of the news is personal ambition, because a lot of choices are made based on not burning this source or not causing a conflict in an area that is your ladder upward.... the media is utilized purely as a strategy by people in power."

"Former CBS News-man Bernard Goldberg has written a best- selling book called Bias, in which he maintains that the real problem with the media is not a bias based on liberal vs. conservative or Republican vs. Democrat. It is a bias based on the sameness of worldview caused by social, intellectual, educational and professional inbreeding. These are folks who travel in the same circles, go to the same parties, talk to the same people, compare their ideas to people with the same ideas, and develop a standard view on issues that makes any deviation from them seem somehow marginal, or even weird."

The first quote is by Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show, as told to Rolling Stone (sadly, the excerpt is only in the print version). The second quote comes from Pat Sajak.

In this era of celebrity journalists and fake news, we're lucky to have some entertainers with the insight and courage to call journalists to task.

Can I bring this back to medicine? Lemme try: Is there a medical equivalent to what Jon Stewart and Pat Sajak have done? Not unless the cast of ER starts giving interviews about the selfishness of doctors.

I don't think that's happened. The task of reigning in drug marketing's influence on doctors has been taken up by... doctors. And it's something to be proud of.

Update: Jon Stewart just went grapeshit on Crossfire today. Via metafilter. Some of the CNN transcript:

STEWART: What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
STEWART: Absolutely.
CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...
STEWART: You're on *CNN*. The show that leads into mine is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?

and later:

STEWART: [after the presidential debates] you go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane? ...
BEGALA: ... They actually believe what they're saying. They want to persuade you. That's what they're trying to do by spinning. But I don't doubt for a minute these people who work for President Bush, who I disagree with on everything, they believe that stuff, Jon. This is not a lie or a deception at all. They believe in him, just like I believe in my guy.
STEWART: I think they believe President Bush would do a better job. And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments. So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means...
CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.
STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

And one point Stewart asks them to stop, stop, stop broadcasting, because they're hurting America. It's really something. The clip is available at Media Matters.