Blog Post

Biased News Media

In 1959, the Federal Communications Commission, (FCC), created and implemented what was known as the fairness doctrine (Simmons, 1979).  Basically it was a rule that all television and radio broadcasts had to abide by, a rule that made it so if either of those mediums had a segment about one side of a particular topic, they had to air another segment that was equally as long about the opposing viewpoint (Simmons, 1979). However in today’s media environment; no network news show or radio news show has to do it today, so the question remains...what happened? Simply put the FCC ceased to enforce the doctrine 1987, which allowed TV and radio to no longer have to air segments about opposing sides (Cronauer, 1994). Because of this, Mediums such as TV and radio were allowed to have those news segments be biased to one side or another, whole channels and  TV shows could be dedicated to one particular viewpoint, the poster child for biased media being Fox News (Kaplan, 2007). Without the fairness doctrine, media in America has been allowed to become biased and sway the opinions of their viewership to increasingly share the same views on a any given topic. While Fox News may be the most prominent cable station renowned for its biased views, it is not the only one. This problem has also only gotten worse in recent years due to the rise of the Internet and social media allowing people to shut themselves in bubbles that conform to their views, values, and beliefs with no input from any other source.

    The rise of the Internet as a part of everyone’s daily lives has been one of, if not the most astounding transformations of the way humans live their lives. However increasingly what has been witnessed due to the abundance of information available to people, is that they cherry pick the ones that conform to their ideals  (Garrett, 2009). The Internet is a medium that was widespread in a world without anything like the fairness doctrine, so media outlets that were created online were allowed to be just as biased as the ones that TV and radio became. Fortunately, given the choice and availability of information on the Internet, people do tend to seek them out. “The Internet and online news do allow individuals more choices and more control over their political information exposure, but people are not using these capabilities to isolate themselves entirely from other ideas.”(Garrett, 2009). So while the people who use the Internet, do find multiple sources of information about any number of topics. The fact remains that these media sources across TV, radio, and the Internet are biased without something like The Fairness Doctrine to reign them in.

    So if Internet users use the medium to find multiple sources that may or may not conform to their ideas, then what is the problem of a bias media? Even though the Internet is a place where anyone can voice their opinions, that doesn’t mean that it is the dominant way people get information. For now the dominant way people get information is by TV  (AMY MITCHELL, 2016). Also that medium is only going to get more biased “On Thursday, the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted on a series of actions that would eliminate regulations for local media ownership...paving the way for Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media...a deal that would give the company well over 200 TV stations, including in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the country’s three biggest media markets.” (KROLL, 2017).

    In this modern era of media, it cannot be understated how the media is biased, and with all the media convergencies and buyouts happening in this day and age, more media is being controlled by fewer companies and limiting the opinions people hear on TV. “The trend of media conglomeration has been steady. In 1983, 50 corporations controlled most of the American media, including magazines, books, music, news feeds, newspapers, movies, radio and television. By 1992 that number had dropped by half. By 2000, six corporations had ownership of most media, and today five dominate the industry: Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany and Viacom.” (Independent Television Service, 2017). In a world where so few corporations own so much of the information that Americans consume on a daily basis, it is disturbing to think what that can cause. To think that someone can count all the companies that own media outlets on just one hand. This narrow amount of opinions only exacerbates how the media is biased and drives the programing and their viewer base to a single view and only that particular view.

    This is a trend that is found across all types of business in America, however media is the one with the worst effects, because it can change how people think about a topic, regardless of if they realize it or not. These biases are what people are exposed to when they see the news on TV, and form how they see the world. Along with the conglomeration of industries in the US and across the globe, it makes for a limited number of sources and opinions that are expressed in the world making information more biased and opinionated for the average person. This is one of the biggest media problems in recent times.

    With the Internet becoming more and more prominent in the lives of people across the globe, this might help alleviate the problems that are arising with media that is becoming more and more condensed and biased. Since people do seem to find multiple online sources since they have the power to pick and choose where they get information. But that process will be slow, and in the meantime television and radio will become prominent sources of news information in the US. Which will without any doubt lead to more and more polarized opinions on controversial subject matter. Though what is “controversial” can vary from place to place and time period. The best thing people can do in this day and age is simply to become more informed and aware of where they are getting information, and what is being presented.

    Biased internet media is not the only form of biased media in today’s world. TV news stations such as CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and much more all fall into the category of biased news media. Lance Strate discusses news channels in chapter 5 of “Amazing Ourselves to Death”.  Strate discusses how news made an impact on society and how it’s developed over the years. Strate’s theory is proven true with the development of bias news media. These days, it’s not hard to turn on a news channel for a few minutes and figure out what the news channel is biased towards. Bias news media can both be seen as good and bad depending on how the audience observes it. If a person is more biased and agrees more with either liberal or conservative methods, this can be a good thing. A person who is liberal wants to hear what a biased liberal news channel has to say about the government. They want to hear that America should be built this way with a certain system. People want to be right and by watching these biased news channels, they believe that their view is more right than anyone else’s view. It makes them feel good. The same theory can apply to conservatives. Then there is the negative side to biased news media. The saying and term “fake news”  has been thrown around these past few years. This term is defined as the journalism and propaganda that consistently spreads wrongful information to make their side of the argument better and more superior to another person's argument. This can be the negative side to biased media because people can be unsure of what to believe in. They don’t know what fake and not fake, making a chaotic mess of information that could be totally untrue. By doing this it creates chaos among viewers, not knowing what to believe and what not to believe.

Over the years,  especially these past few years, news channels have been biased towards either liberal or conservative media. Liberal media tends to learn toward the democrats while conservatives lean toward the republican side. The difference between them are very distinct. Examples: Liberals believe death penalty should be abolished, support legal immigration, support same-sex marriage, anti-Trump, etc. Conservatives are more pro gun rights, abortion is murder, pro death penalty, big supporters of Donald Trump, etc. Depending on what news channel it is, both liberal and conservative news channels can be extremely biased toward what they believe. News media also covers much government talk which can create even more biased news towards liberal and conservative news channels. Many stories come out of Washington D.C everyday. When these stories break, popular news channels such as Fox and CNN will present the story. However, since CNN is considered more of a liberal news channel and Fox has more conservative views, both channels will display and discuss the story or topic in a different way. A way in which the story can portray to the audience that is watching. A common example of this come from stories that involve president Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a republican president, this means that he will appeal to people who have a more conservative view. Fox will be more likely to praise and discuss the positives that come from a Trump story while CNN will be more likely to find the negative sides to a Donald Trump story and exploit him for his wrong doing.

    Biased news channels and journalism has been on the rise this past year since president Donald Trump took office. Biased news media was still a thing while Obama held office, but nothing can compare to how biased news channels have gotten since Trump has been elected. Donald Trump is a man that is either loved by many or despised by many, because of this, the news media either bashes or praises Trump, depending on what bias the news channel is, on what he is currently working on in office. Take this example of bias news media towards trump. CNN is an extremely popular and profound news station in America. CNN tends to have a more bias view toward liberals and the democratic party. Many headlines of journals and topics discussed during their news time have mostly negative things to say against president Donald Trump. Some CNN headlines read, “Trump’s Russia defense in disarray”, “How Trump has disparaged the Russian investigation”, “All the President’s women are complicit”. These are just a few CNN headlines in the news lately. Let’s take a look at some headlines form Fox news, “Trump officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital”, “Thank you, Mr. Trump for bringing 'Merry Christmas' back to the White House”, “Jerusalem is why Trump’s in the White House”, “Trump is right -- Israel’s capital is Jerusalem”. Pretty big difference right? These are only headlines as well. When diving into the actual article, you can tell that writer is either a supporter of Donald Trump or that the writer is anti-Donald Trump.

    When it comes to liberal bias news media, CNN is considered the most biased. CNN was founded by Ted Turner and became the world’s first 24 hour news station back in the year 1980. CNN quickly became one of the world’s most popular news channels in America. These bias claims toward CNN occured in the year 2007, there was research done by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the profound college, Harvard University. The authors of this project discovered that during the 2007 presidential preliminaries that the CNN news channel had more negative topics toward republican candidates with a margin of three-to-one. Not only did the CNN news channel have more negative things to say toward republican candidates, but CNN writers also had more negative than positive things to say regarding republican candidates with a four-to-ten margin. Specific republican candidates, such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, had more negatives views and stories than any other candidate. John McCain even had a negativity rating of 63% when it came to CNN stories and tv topics. Ever since this research took place, CNN has been known to have a bias view toward the liberals and democrats of America. Take a recent story by CNN on Donald Trump, written by Wardah Khalid. The headline reads “Trump’s Jerusalem decision puts the Middle East on knife’s edge”. Just in the headline you can see that this is almost saying that it’s Trump’s fault that the Middle East is at war over his decision. Yes, there were riots after Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, but the headline instead could have said something like, “Conflict rises after Jerusalem is names capital of Israel”. This article is more toward putting the fault on Trump for the riots. There is a part in the article that reads, “Donald Trump's announcement, on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US Embassy to the Holy City, appeared, at least on the surface, chiefly ceremonial. His message provided no specifics on how it might bring peace to the Middle East and seemed aimed at appeasing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supporters who voted him into office” (Khalid, CNN). Again, this writer is giving little jabs at Trump for this decision.

    Fox is the same way but more conservative. Fox was first recognized as biased toward conservative also in 2007 during the presidential preliminaries. During this time, many democratic politicians boycotted the Fox news networking, refusing to do talks and other events on their live network. Some of these democratic politicians included Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson. These candidates even pulled out of Fox news sponsorships and host debates. Let’s take a recent story from Fox news, written by Todd Starnes. The headline reads, “Thank you, Mr. Trump for bringing 'Merry Christmas' back to the White House”. This is just one article example of Fox news praising Trump for doing something. The first sentence of the article, Starnes writes, “President Trump vowed to put the Christ back into Christmas and based on this video that's exactly what he did -- delivering on a promise to end the ongoing war on Christmas” (Starnes, FOX). You can see the kind of praise Trump gets for just bringing Christmas back to the White House.

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