Imagine that Presidents Bush and Obama are standing next to each other while attending an Easter Egg Hunt on the White House lawn. President Obama is in his normal business attire, suit and tie, while President Bush showed up in a head to toe bunny costume. ABC, NBC and CBS report: “President Obama was in attendance as well as former President Bush who appeared in a bunny costume.”
The right would claim, “Left wing slant! They had to say that Bush was in a bunny suit while making no mention of what Obama was wearing!”
They turn now to Fox News who report on the same event: “Former President Bush attended the Easter festivities today full of good humor and ready to entertain the children in attendance. President Obama, however, displayed disinterest in Christianity’s Holiest day.”
Silly example…and dead on.
That was a comic illustration, here is a real one: When Obama was scheduled to speak at Notre Dame 3 years ago, Fox News ran a ticker at the bottom of a newscast. It read: “Obama Snubs Image of Christ.” Fox editorialists on subsequent broadcasts said that President Obama had demanded that any Christian images be removed before he would attend and the clear “speculation” they were sharing is that Obama was not a real Christian, or at the very least, had little respect for Christianity (the Muslim card).
What aggravated me as much as that blatant slant was that the rest of the news world didn’t jump all over the fraudulent claim. Finally, on MSNBC I saw a story that revealed that White House protocol, for decades, has been to remove any iconic imagery or symbols where the President speaks and to show only the American Flag and the Presidential Seal. The President had nothing to do with the removal of any paintings or symbols.
The objective of journalism, which is vital to the survival of a free Republic, is to report the facts, without editorializing, so that the electorate can make accurate and fair judgments from which to base decisions.
24/7 news coverage might seem like the realization of the best possible World of Information, but it has become anything but; commentators have replaced journalists; editorials have replaced news.
People who argue with me have been citing statistics that show how many Democrats comprise news agencies. Not accuracy of reporting statistics, mind you, but the fact that Network News Big Three employ Democrats 9 to 1. That is not an easy number to ignore, but it doesn’t really say anything substantive. Is it possible…that people who are generally “liberal” are more attracted to the profession of gathering information?
Studies from the Pew Research Center show statistics of what sources people trust more than others, but that doesn’t reveal actual accuracy in reporting.
Media Matters is a watchdog agency that was created to “correct” misinformation coming out of conservative news and they show an endless archive of false reporting from conservative radio and, of course, Fox News, but I don’t win any arguments when I use them as evidence. Conservatives dismiss their information because of their agenda.
Fox News was created, by it’s own admission, to appease a growing audience on the right that was not happy with the fact that their ideological truths were not represented in the news. These “truths” were images and stories portraying nationalism, Christian theocracy, and a celebration of American fables.
That being said, Fox News doesn’t always lie. Their editorial shows (while too often full of “facts” from unchecked sources, propagating false rumors and anti-liberal rhetoric) do sometimes reveal enough objectivity to suggest to loyal viewers that they tell the truth. It’s the same principle used by The National Enquirer. Some stories have to be real. At least enough to convince readers that maybe, just maybe, “Bat Boy” might be real, as well.
What needs to be clear is that News and Editorials are not the same thing and the distinction has gotten lost in 24/7 broadcasting. Many journalists have become commentators, even entertainers, and entertainers are posing as journalists. The problem is, we are getting a lot of information after it’s been tainted by the lens of opinion and many people cannot see the difference.
The result is that bias appears as news and news is assumed to be biased.
The result of that result….honest journalism appears to be biased to those who are looking for an opinion to be contained in their “news.”
Veritas vos liberabit, anyone?