Media Bias Is Not What You Think

Often the mainstream media is accused of being biased. This accusation normally comes from conservatives.  Of course bias depends somewhat on your point of view. We talk in terms of left or right. That assumes some center and a person’s, or groups views are either left or right of center. In truth we are each biased as to where the center is, or should be. We tend to see left or right in relation to our own position or the position of the people with which we surround ourselves. If most people around us have a particular viewpoint we see that as the norm but it could be way to one side or the other.

So is the media biased? One report looked at the political affiliations of the journalist. The results show that Democrat journalists consistently outnumber Republicans.

From the Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/05/06/just-7-percent-of-journalists-are-republicans-thats-far-less-than-even-a-decade-ago/

political-affiliation
Image courtesy of The American Journalist in the Digital Age

That would lead us to conclude that there is a significant Democrat bias among reporters. Other research tends to support this conclusion also. If you watch the news attentively you can see the bias. Some is very obvious others are much more subtle but the bias is always there.  By the way, don’t be deceived about the designation of “Independent”. People, especially reporters, like to think of themselves as neutral and objective, but just because a person calls himself or herself independent does not mean they are neutral or objective.  When interviewed about their particular views and voting habits they nearly always fall squarely into a Republican or Democrat stance.

When it comes to politics and social issues we are taught to think in terms of Republican or Democrat, left or right, Conservative or Liberal. The media is thinking about something totally different. There is something that matters much more than who becomes President. What matters most is ratings, viewership and advertizing sales.

The media has many biases but the most important is creating a story that will make people tune in.  Notice how this has played out in this election cycle so far.  There were a dozen or so candidates for the Republican nomination but which one could they make out to be the most “controversial”, who would give them the greatest number of provocative sound bites. The obvious choice was Donald Trump and Trump knew it. If he could keep feeding them material then he would get free coverage on the news. From my estimation Trump got three times as much media coverage as all the other candidates combined.

Was any of it about real issues? Not really, it was about off handed remarks blown out of proportion to create some new “controversy”.  It was never about substance.

As we got to the Republican convention, Trump clearly had the nominations, but the media created a hype that somehow Cruz would try to pull a coop. Of course it made for a good story, and people tuned in to see what would happen but it was all media hype. Then there was the big “controversy” as to whether or not Cruz would endorse Trump.

If the primary media bias was about liberal of conservative polices then that would have been the content of the reporting, but it never is. It is always about superficial hype.

The same was true of the Democratic campaign. The Democratic leadership always wanted Hillary. It was always assumed that she would win the nomination. They have been working toward this sense Bill was President. Bernie Sanders was too extreme and never had a chance, but that does not make for a good news story. So Bernie became a big news story. They reported on his dedicated and energized youthful followers. They created a “real” threat to Hillary’s candidacy. Even at the Democratic Convention the media created a story. ‘Will Bernie endorse Hillary?’ ‘Will his supporters back her?’ The drama continues on the convention floor. Viewers stay tuned to see what will happen and the advertizing dollars keep rolling in.

Everyone thinks that in a presidential election either the Republicans or the Democrats win. The real winner is the media. Each party raised hundreds of millions of dollars. It doesn’t matter who wins the media gets it all. The more “controversy” they can create the more viewers they have; the more viewers the higher the cost for advertizing.  The media loves “Raciest” Trump and “Crooked” Hillary. Keep the scandals rolling in and the money will roll in right behind it.

Trump will say he hates the media and how biased they are. The media loves it and Trump loves the coverage it gets him. Trump challenges the media to show the record breaking turnout to his rallies and the pathetically poor turnout to the Hillary rallies. The media never shows the crowds. Trump says it is because they are biased toward Hillary. That may be true but mostly they are biased toward creating the appearance of a close race. As long as the race is close the viewing audience will stay energized.  If it looks like slam-dunk for Trump then the race is over and no one will watch.

For sure the media is bias. For sure they lean to the left. But the biggest bias is not what you think. They are biased toward themselves. They are biased towards controversy and the all mighty dollar. Who will win the race? The media will.

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