Eric Alterman. What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News. Basic Books, 2004.
Though this book is now a bit dated (the main points of reference are the 2000 presidential election) it remains important and perceptive. The problems it addresses have definitely not gone away–and they need to be addressed.
It is discouraging to think that all these years after this book came out and utterly demolished the myth that mainstream American media have a liberal bias, this untruth can still be spouted with at least some effectiveness by people on the Right. In an engagingly written and thoroughly documented survey of how the mainstream media actually works (especially in its unjustified and ultimately tragic hatchet job on Al Gore during the 2000 presidential election), Alterman makes it clear that the corporate media has long been hostile to the social and political Left in this country–and got more and more so by the turn of the century.
Alterman certainly has an agenda, but he is a scholar and writes clearly and mostly non-polemically. He has tons of documentation and examples. This is a strong book. Even if it is a bit dated, it still deserves to be read by anyone who truly wants to understand how it was the the United States has gotten itself into the mess we are in.