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Tags: abc | media | bias | anxiety

ABC's Dan Harris: Media Bias Is Only Toward 'Sexiest Story Possible'

By    |   Friday, 04 April 2014 09:15 PM EDT

Dan Harris, co-anchor of ABC's "Nightline" and "Good Morning America Weekend" says it's possible the American media has a liberal slant — but moreover its bias lies in wanting to produce the "sexiest story possible."

"In my experience, the bias is toward doing the, let's just say, sexiest story possible. That could have a conservative slant or it could have a liberal slant," Harris told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"What we want is viewers. We operate in a capitalist context and what I find is generally, if there is a bias, it's toward doing stories that will get the most eyeballs."

But he said he is "very much open to the possibility," that most people in the media business are liberal and have a "subconscious bias."

That said, Harris adds, "I've never heard anybody say something like, 'We're going to go get this guy because he's a Republican."

Story continues below video.

Harris is author of the new book, "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story," published by It Books.

In it, he chronicles anxiety demons, which manifested themselves in a very public way when he had a panic attack on live television.

"It's a struggle. You're wondering, am I not going to be able to earn a living anymore?" Harris said.

"I went to a doctor and he asked me a series of questions. He was an expert in panic and one of the things he asked me was, do you do drugs? And I sheepishly said, yeah, I do. And, he said, mystery solved.''

Harris explained that when he returned to the United States after reporting from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, "I got depressed and I did a really stupid thing. Even though I knew better, I started using recreational drugs, including cocaine, and I didn't do it that often."

He said his use of narcotics was "for a very, very brief period of time and I never did it while I was working."

Still, "the doctor explained to me that it just had these side effects of raising the level of adrenaline, which triggered that panic attack," Harris said.

The veteran newsman spent a lot of time speaking with self-help gurus as he researched the book, but wasn't impressed.

"They promised that you can solve all your problems with the power of positive thinking, which is just malarkey. Baloney. You can't do that," Harris said.

"Anybody who sells you a miracle cure — most likely the only person who's going to benefit from that sale is the person selling it.

"The only people who I know who have gotten rich off of self-help are writing the books. So I wanted to counterprogram against that."

So what is one of the secrets of reducing stress? Meditation, according to Harris.

"[It is] something that I always thought was ridiculous. For hippies and rogue gurus," he said.

"A lot of people, myself included, had the assumption that meditation is just for weirdos, people who live in a yurt or collect crystals or really deeply into aromatherapy and Cat Stevens. Just not true.

"It's a very simple exercise for your brain and there's enormous amounts of science that shows it can change your blood pressure, your immune system."

Harris said meditation rewires key parts of the brain that control stress and well-being.

"Now it's being done by corporate executives, by the U.S. Marines, by the U.S. Army, by athletes. So that's what convinced me to give it a shot," he said.

And it's fairly simple to practice.

"Basically it's a focusing exercise. It's not about communing with the universe or floating off into cosmic goo," he said.

"You're trying to focus on one thing at a time and every time your mind wanders, you catch yourself wandering and bring your attention back."

For those who believe meditation is too time-consuming in today's busy world, Harris has an easy answer.

"Here’s what I say … five minutes. No matter how busy you are, you definitely have five minutes. Everybody does," he said.

"I think five minutes a day of seated meditation will change the relationship between you and the clamor in your mind, which whether you're aware of it or not is most of your life.

"This constant wanting, not wanting, judging, comparing yourself to other people, projecting forward into the future, remembering the past as opposed to being where you are at any given moment. All that noise, you can turn down the volume on it and not be so yanked around by your emotions. Five minutes a day will do that for you."

See "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.


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Dan Harris, co-anchor of ABC's "Nightline" and "Good Morning America Weekend" says it's possible the American media has a liberal slant — but moreover its bias lies in wanting to produce the "sexiest story possible."
Friday, 04 April 2014 09:15 PM
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