is a reference to Peter Braestrup’s massivenbook, Big Story, which argued inneffect that the media turned a Viet Congndefeat into a victory. Gans simply repeatsnthe old cliches about the editorsnin New York being unwilling to believenthe bad news being reported from thenfield. He does not refute Braestrup’sncontentions; he simply pretends thatnthey had never been made. He is apparentlyna species of anti-anticommunistnwho takes a position of lofty superioritynto the supposed hysterics of the ColdnWarriors. He notes with distaste, fornexample, that reports on “socialist countries”nlike Russia and China tend tonfocus on the absence of civil libertiesnrather than on the society’s economicnsuccesses, as though one effectivelyncompensated for the other. (In fact,nChina in the 1970s received almostnadulatory treatment in the Westernnmedia until after Mao’s death.) Economicnsuccesses.” As if the bread Russiansneat these days were not fromnKansas.nIf pressed, Gans would probably admitnthat the Western press is free in waysnthe communist press is not. But youncould not infer that fact from the followingnremarks: “… communist journalistsnlack what American professionalsndefine as autonomy.” “News from communistnsources has . . . always beennattributed with the qualification thatnit could be a lie, or at least ‘propaganda.’n” [Emphasis added.] In anothernplace Gans implies that communistnjournalists respond to pressure in thensame way that Westerners do.nThe root of his problem is withnideological definitions, odd for a socialnscientist who criticizes the media fornbeing insufficiently self-conscious. Henis fond of the term “ultraconservative,”nfor example, but it is nowhere definednand seems to include anyone to the rightnof, say, Jacob Javits. On the other side,nhowever, Jerry Brown, that patron ofnJaneFonda, is defined as “right-leaning.”nIt is a simple and familiar strategy—byndefining as extremists almost everyonento the right of himself, Gans seeks tonestablish his own position as a trulynmoderate and centrist one. When notingnthe media’s biases, he usually says thatnthey exclude “extremists” on both sides.nBut the extreme left is composed ofnpeople who want to destroy the existingnpolitical and economic systems, by forcenif necessary, so the equivalent on thenright would have to be groups like thenMinutemen and the Ku Klux Klan. FornGans, however, the Weathermen arenroughly the equivalent of RonaldnReagan. Duly elected public officialsnsomehow end up lumped with terrorists.nIVeading the book carefully, onenfinds inescapable confirmation of thenmedia’s bias, even though this is notnwhat Gans intends. One survey ofnprominent journalists found 52 percentndescribing themselves as left or a littlento the left, while only 17 percent wouldncall themselves rightists. Over 40 percentnwere Democrats, only 16 percentnRepublicans. Faced with obvious instancesnof liberal media bias, Gans hasnto do some fancy juggling to ignore thenobvious. One editor told him “I wouldn’tnhire a Goldwaterite.” A few lines laternGans says “… ultraconservatives (andnsocialists) would consume precious timenand energy only because their politicalnvalues diverge from the enduring ones.”nBut the editor did not tell Gans thatnhe would not hire a socialist. That isnGans’ interpolation to avoid having tondiscuss a blatant instance of liberalnprejudice. He cannot see the point evennwhen it stares him in the face. He reports,nfor example, that news institutionsnsometimes keep “house” conservativesnor radicals on the premises. Butnin one instance a “house conservative”nturned out to hold liberal positions onnmany questions. In other words, whatnthe journalists perceived as “conservatism”nwas not that at all, although Gansndoes not grasp the point. Despite EdithnEfron’s carefully documented chargesnof television bias in favor of SenatornMcGovern against President Nixon inn1972, Gans does not discuss the substancenof the charge, merely treatingnnnit as an example of outside pressurenbrought to bear on the media. He is nowherenmore confused than on the questionnof who should determine newsnpolicy. Towards the end of the book hensuggests tentatively that news agenciesnmight be controlled, democratically, bynworking journalists, which might, henadmits, give the news an even greaternleftward slant. (He regrets that, unlikenin Europe, American journalists rarelynside openly with the left.)nHow rnuch should the news respondnto outside pressures.’ Here Gans has anneat, if unstated, formula: outside criticismnfrom the right is bad and shouldnbe resisted. Outside pressure from thenleft represents the legitimate aspirationsnof deprived groups and should benlistened to.nOne of his more interesting revelationsnis that letters of protest from conservativesnare discounted in advancenand have no weight. On the other hand,nGans is critical of the media for itsn”slowness” in responding to the demandsnof women, blacks, and other “oppressed”ngroups. Why should the media provenresponsive, albeit slowly, to some groupsnand not others.” If you are looking fornan answer, you won’t find it in Gans’nbook.nGans is mainly interested in politicalnquestions, and one of the most glaringnflaws in the book is its failure to discussnthe role of the media in effecting then”cultural revolution” of the past fifteennyears. Inexplicably, he tells us that thenmedia is respectful of tradition (althoughnit also favors the new) and treats popularntaboos with respect, which suggestsnthat he has been getting different editionsnof the news from most of the restnof us. Benjamin Stein, in his book ThenView from Sunset Boulevard, hasnshown how small towns are often portrayednas sinister in television entertainmentnprograms, yet Gans would havenus believe the media are prejudiced inntheir favor. In fact, he seems to resentnany favorable treatment given thosenoutside what he describes as the “sophisticated”nEastern liberal axis. Charlesn17nIVovembcr/December 1979n