Saying anything sensible about media ‘bias’ is hard for me; it seems when people complain about ‘bias’ of given media outlet, what they are really objecting to is that the outlet does not editorialize sufficiently in favor of the complainer’s viewpoint.
I’ll give my best shot anyway. In answer to the OP’s questions, 1) mainly biased in favor of audience expectations, depending on the media source (that would be re: US media only) 2) the assumption of a ‘liberal’ US media has long been a bit of a canard, and certainly is false in the case of the majority of US TV journalism.
Of the media reports I followed most closely, the most biased coverage I noticed was that of Pacifica Radio; their coverage consisted exclusively of stories detailing negative aspects of US actions in Iraq, or of presumed pro-US bias in other media reporting. I can’t think of a single minute of Pacifica coverage that even hinted at positive US behavior during the conflict. Least-biased of the English-speaking nets seemed to be BBC and/or CBC. YMMV.
All major US TV networks, IMO, showed some degree of pro-US bias by showing little inclination to question actions by US troops in the field; not a complete surprise, I guess, as to present their stories otherwise would have risked alienating large numbers of viewers and thus potentially losing ad revenue. What I’m talking about here is basically a long-time, falsely populist stance by major media that is really just pandering to the presumed audience. This has existed for decades and I saw little to indicate that this tendency was stronger in Iraq covereage than any other.
In the case of pronouncements by administration officials, TV outlets were perhaps somewhat more analytical, but certainly not as confrontational as they could have been. I’ll just mention here that although I’ve read a lot snarky comments in this forum about FOX TV’s supposed extremist pro-war attitude, I saw little substantive difference among the coverage of the big three nets, FOX, CNN and MSNBC. Maybe I was watching at the wrong times.
Print coverage, surprise, surprise, seemed much more analytical and far more willing to question US policies and tactics.
As far as embedding goes, I saw no great contribution to understanding of the conflict by embedded reporters. In the case of TV coverage, it provided little more than eye candy; embedding seemed to provide no particular hard information about the conflict that I could have obtained otherwise.