Every now and again a poll will come out telling us how well the media is doing among the populace in terms of trustworthiness and popularity. The numbers are never good and the latest is no exception.
According to The Federalist, a recent poll showed that a monster number of Americans believe that the media is incredibly biased and on top of that, a majority believes it responsible for a lot of the division in our country:
Eighty-six percent of Americans believe there is “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of political bias in the way the media covers news, according to a Knight Foundation/Gallup poll released on Tuesday. The number of Americans that see bias in the media is up almost 25 percentage points from 62 percent in 2007. Almost half of Americans — 49 percent — now say there’s a great deal of political bias in news coverage.
While Republicans are more likely to say there’s a “great deal” of bias and Democrats more often said there was a “fair amount,” large majorities of both political parties believed that some bias existed: 78 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans.
These numbers were collected from polling of more than 20,000 Americans between November and February, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd, and the resulting media coverage of both events.
The Federalist goes on to report that a majority of respondents at 79 percent believe that the bias was intentional and that reporters are trying to persuade the viewer to see things as they do, and that when these reporters are inaccurate, 54 percent believe it’s because they are blinded by their own bias while 28 assume they intentionally lied.
Is that the case?
My colleague Mike Miller released an interesting article today about an MSNBC producer that decided to leave the network after it had become too toxic to work there. The main issue was that the network had an agenda that it would carry out, even if that agenda meant hurting people.
She quotes a “high profile TV veteran” who once told her that they “are a cancer and there is no cure.”
The key explanation given by the MSNBC producer was her description of what happened at MSNBC during the coverage of the Coronavirus:
“This cancer risks human lives, even in the middle of a pandemic. The primary focus quickly became what Donald Trump was doing (poorly) to address the crisis, rather than the science itself. As new details have become available about antibodies, a vaccine, or how COVID actually spreads, producers still want to focus on the politics. Important facts or studies get buried.
This cancer risks our democracy, even in the middle of a presidential election. Any discussion about the election usually focuses on Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, a repeat offense from 2016 (Trump smothers out all other coverage). Also important is to ensure citizens can vote by mail this year, but I’ve watched that topic get ignored or ‘killed’ numerous times.”
It’s not a particularly surprising revelation. We’ve known about network bias for some time and this producer’s testimony is just one more layer of icing on a cake so high that it’s toppling over.
What do we do to combat the problem?
We can’t stop watching the news but we can choose where it comes from. This is already something we do naturally as we tend to gravitate toward the news organizations that confirm your bias. You may read Reuters but you’ll consider yourself as getting the real story at RedState. You may check out CNN’s take, but you’ll soon find yourself going to the Free Beacon or Daily Wire to get more. Chris Cuomo may talk about a story, but you’re more than likely going to believe it if Tucker Carlson says it.
The truth is, we’re never going to get away from bias. There is no such thing as an unbiased reporter because every reporter is a human being with opinions that shape their perspective on reality. They can’t help it, and believe it or not, it’s always been this way. It’s just become far more obvious in the age of the internet.
People often tell me they wish there was a news source that told the whole story with perfect neutrality, and I tell them that I wish I had a flying car and a talking dog. It’s just not realistic. Even if someone did found a news network with neutrality, at some point, someone would wish to violate the trust it garnered in order to push a narrative.
The only thing I can recommend is to do something many people would find horrifying in this age of videos, gifs, soundbites, and push notifications…
The truth is, this is the day of the citizen journalist and it’s up to you to get the real story. That may sound like I — a cultural-political commentator — am passing the job off to you but the truth is that I too am fallible and make mistakes due to my bias. I’m very reluctant to call myself a “journalist” often enough because I don’t want to fool anybody into thinking I have all the answers. No human does. Jim Acosta and Sean Hannity don’t and both are going to be restricted by their respective ideologies and the health of their side so some stories aren’t going to come out right if they come out at all.
That’s why I recommend you go around and sample everything.
But…ya know…mostly read RedState.