The media is powerful; with that statement, no one can disagree. However, many differ when debating the alleged liberal bias of the media. Now, before you start deeming CNN the “Clinton News Network,” hear me out. The media is biased in both
directions, right and left, and more often than being politically swayed, the media is influenced by money. However, the biggest problem with the media is the kinds of programming and writing that are considered news and what sources are considered journalists. Take the O’Reilly Factor, for example. Bill O’Reilly, the host of the show, is not, I repeat NOT, a journalist. He is a commentator/TV and radio personality. However, because his show is broadcast on news stations, suddenly his opinions and convenient statistics are called news.
The media watch group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, even published a book called “The ‘Oh Really?’ Factor” criticizing him for his biased reporting, which would normally end a news career, but Fox continues to broadcast his biased little show and write it off as news even though his show and most of the programming on Fox make references of an intended audience: Republicans.
The other thing about the media that bothers me is that the owners of huge media corporations can self-censure reports about their subsidiaries. Think of it this way: Time Warner owns CNN, a news network, but also owns companies such as HBO, AOL, People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune Magazine, and New Line Cinema (to name a few). Because they own such wide array of media outlets, CNN isn’t going to rip on Sports Illustrated if a huge scandal explodes as relentlessly as Fox News would have. Does that make CNN less credible?
The amount of time people are willing to devote to watching or reading news is becoming slimmer these days, so the juiciest facts instead of the whole story are presented to fit within the short attention span of the average American. Pressure from advertisers is another ways in which our capitalist society actually causes bias in reporting.
If Dodge contributes millions of dollars in commercial advertising to ABC, how might that effect a story about Dodge recalls? Government influence, whether its public or covert censorship, biases the media as well. Who knows what kind of information the Bush administration or the CIA is hiding in their back logs of files or what bits of information are withheld to avoid tarnished reputations.
The moral of the story is that you have to realize that the news you’re being fed isn’t always cold hard fact. Unless you are reading or watching an actual journalist, the tidbits of “news” that you hear most likely have an opinion behind it and it most definitely serve a purpose for whatever media outlet you’re hearing it from.
In the end, all you can do is realize you’re being tricked and be smart enough to not believe everything you hear. Don’t allow yourself to be a puppet. Look to multiple sources for your news, and be aware that money influences what is broadcast just as political views could affect reporters and editors.