CNN Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield spoke Wednesday night about
national issues of media bias at the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center of
Jewish Life at UCLA in an event cosponsored by the Daniel Pearl
Foundation.

The lecture was the third in a series of annual lectures on
journalism and international relations held in honor of journalist
Daniel Pearl.

A prominent writer for The Wall Street Journal, Pearl was
kidnapped and executed in 2002 while doing a story in Pakistan. His
captors released a home video documenting Pearl’s death and
demanding the release of prisoners and warning other American
journalists in Muslim countries.

The Daniel Pearl foundation, run by Pearl’s parents, has
sponsored the lecture series as an attempt to continue and promote
what they described as their son’s legacy of unbiased
reporting.

“Honest reporting is the best weapon to fighting the
hatred that took Daniel’s life,” said Judea Pearl,
Daniel’s father and a UCLA professor of computer science who
runs the foundation with his wife Ruth. Pearl, speaking in front of
a crowd of about 100 people, said two Pakistani diplomats told him
how anti-Israel media bombarded citizens daily with images of armed
Israeli soldiers and militaristic brutality.

Speaking about American media in a 45-minute speech, Greenfield
refrained from analyzing specific incidents of bias in the media,
and instead asked people to look inward to determine the root of
the alleged problem.

“Are you part of the problem?” Greenfield
rhetorically asked.

Greenfield also spoke about the public aversion to reading
material that goes against their own core beliefs. To many people,
Greenfield explained, “unwelcome info is proof of
bias.”

But Greenfield did not completely absolve the media in his
critique of the public. Greenfield cited the profusion of various
media sources, from satellite news to Internet Web logs, as
partially responsible for creating an atmosphere of
unaccountability where people struggle to find trustworthy sources.
He also cited many historical figures as evidence that there has
never been a time without media bias, real or perceived.

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.
Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted
vehicle,” Greenfield said, quoting Thomas Jefferson.

Greenfield also discredited allegations of the media’s
power to influence politics and sway the public. “We are not
nearly as powerful as we think we are or you think we are,”
he said, citing the recent presidential election in which President
Bush was elected amid a supposedly liberal-leaning media.

Rebecca Levenson, the program director of UCLA Hillel, believed
the presentation was “important for students (in order) to
see themselves as part of a greater community.”

The speech was followed by a chance for the audience to ask
Greenfield questions, which ranged from the influence of money on
the media to coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.