Media Bias? – that’s news to me

Is there a liberal media bias? Of course there is a liberal media bias. You are thinking, “Wait,  have those nut job talk show hosts been right all along?”.  Well…kinda yes. The reason there is a liberal media bias is cause diversity of political views amongst journalists is very low with  only 7% of media journalists state that they vote Republican.

However, our problems are much deeper that just a liberal media bias. It is really how we consume our news. In a prior article, I argued that our country is one giant block of confirmation bias. How we consume absorb and assimilate information has fundamentally changed over the past twenty five years. We used to “trust” our newsmen and newswomen. There was a sense of comfort and stability that the news was the news and not opinion.

But thanks to the internet and social media all that has changed. With multiple inputs fighting for our eyeballs and our decreasing attention span to really understand issues, we are left with news feeds that tailor to our needs. I am left leaning so I listen to MSNBC, get my alerts from DailyKos, Huff Post and follow progressive voices and leaders on FB and twitter. Or I am right leaning I listen to Fox News; get my alerts from conservative outlets and follow conservative voices online. And so we end up creating one giant confirmation bias. Now, in my past posts I have specifically called out the republican bubble and I stand by that. It is one thing to have biased news and views of the world and a totally different matter if you live a fact free life.

This confirmation bias has polarized our country and it can be seen in our election cycle. Twenty years ago there was a bigger swath of independent/undecided voters. Now, once you are past the primaries the wonks can pretty much tell you which 3-4 states are the battleground states. The left and the right had a small loyal base and the middle was always up for grabs in each election. Now that middle has shrunk to the point that people vote based on ideology and NOT what the candidate stands for on key issues. 

Here is an example of how our Facebook/Social Media feeds are fundamentally impacting our objectivity. The quote from candidate Trump made it’s rounds on all the social media sites and it was proved to be Fake News. He never said the quote below. And, similarly there was a ton of fake news on Hilary Clinton.

Fivethirtyeight.com had a postmortem article on liberal media bias and a few key points of note are as follows:

The political diversity of journalists is not very strong, either. As of 2013, only 7 percent of them identified as Republicans (although only 28 percent called themselves Democrats with the majority saying they were independents)

Diversity of opinion? For starters, American newsrooms are not very diverse along racial or gender lines, and it’s not clear the situation is improving much.

Decentralization? Surowiecki writes about the benefit of local knowledge, but the political news industry has become increasingly consolidated in Washington and New York as local newspapers have suffered from a decade-long contraction.

Pew did a research of the most trusted and least trusted news outlets in the US and the results ….well it comes down to how you look at the data:

There is definitely something to be said about objectivity in the media but the bigger point is,  we the consumers are also accountable. We need to play a bigger part as consumers in seeking and demanding information with minimal bias. While we may never get a truly unbiased media and journalists we can definitely try to do our part:

  • no feeds from bat shit crazy left or right wing sites
  • left wing and right wing talk radio are NOT objective news sources. They are opinions and points of view.
  • You can glance at your Facebook feed but it would do you a world of good to read a proper newspaper or magazine (either print or online)
  • If you do want to seek editorial or opinions find voices that are both center left and center right
  • Facts matter! Remember the only way to break confirmation bias is to look via a different point of view to see if the conclusions still hold up.

We as consumers need to take more accountability, else the polarization will continue to increase. Between information bias and “alternate facts”, the very foundation of what we use to make and shape our decisions is being compromised. And we are now ending up like this…………

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Faux News

What is happening to the Fourth Estate? I thought our founding fathers were astute in putting checks and balances and ensuring that a free press actually challenged the other branches of the government. There was no way to foresee this huckster that is now the leader of the free world. Take the most recent sequence of events:

  • A judge provides an opinion in Fox News stating that a British Secret Service Agency colluded with the previous President to “wire tap(p)” the existing President when he was a candidate
  • The White House picks up this story and provides it was a “tongue in cheek” evidence that their allegations had momentum
  • When confronted by the press the President very glibly deflected the whole matter stating that we should check with Fox News, as they were culpable for generating this in the first place. 
  • Both Fox News and the British Intelligence vehemently stated that this entire narrative had no grounds in reality and was simply false
  • Finally, in the Congressional hearing, both heads of the NSA and FBI also stated that there was no proof that there was any hacking by the former President

There have been a lot of articles and reviews in the recent past that (rightfully) call the Press to question on how much free publicity they provided the current President during the election cycle. The President, in turn, loves to chastise the press as ‘Fake News” at every opportunity.

However, there are a few problems with this:

  1. The President and his team are very selective. Any outlet that questions or challenges his policies or statements is deemed as “Fake News”. Alt-Right websites, news outlets that have a sycophantic relationship with the administration are “Real News”. The evidence is clear based on how many interviews have been granted to Fox News and Breitbart in comparison to the other news outlets
  2. The word Fake News itself seems so vague. The President uses this as a suitcase term to rally the base. The right wing media obviously has embraced this term as a convenient passive aggressive response to anyone or any organization that directs any criticism at this administration.
  3. Finally, where is the indignation? where is the anger? for years we have heard the right say that the media has a liberal bias and then that turned into “fake news” but now when fake news is turning into “news that is fake” where are all the people of conscience, from the right? Remember the birther arguments, does that sound familiar,or is that “real news”?

Which brings me to my main point. We all now know where the fake news is coming from. It is not the main networks or any outlet that is rightfully questioning the accountability of this administration, it is coming from the White House.

THE FAKE NEWS GENISIS (Source – myself):

(I realize I missed the Facebook channel in the steps above)

I remember a quote from one of the reporters, “in the absence of facts, both our opinions are accurate”. Even though we are now living in a fact free country, I am encouraged in the fact that the press has been hitting back and calling for accountability and we are hopeful that this will reduce the level of egregiousness.

At the end of the day, the blame lies squarely on us, the people. We allowed ourselves to get hoodwinked, sucker punched and bamboozled into this.

My faith in the intelligence of our plebiscite is at an all time low. Maybe common sense is not so common after all!