Over the last three years, both the mainstream and online news media have become increasingly biased, siding more strongly than ever on specific issues and marching to the drumbeat of their respective parties. These differences have grown so deep and caustic that the news from each network almost sounds like its from a different planet. There used to be a time when we used to just get the news and we had the freedom to form our own opinions and impressions; now, the real news is reduced to a small fleck among the endless opinion-spewing talking heads’ rants. There used to be a time when reporters would use plain and objective words to describe the day’s events; now every event is preceded and superseded with a long line of opinionated adjectives. Are we really so dumbed down that we need some network honchos to make up our minds? As I pondered this question, I came up with two reasons for this widening chasm:
1. We hear what we want to hear – The anchors on MSNBC are smart, witty and lucid; I feel entertained by them. The anchors on Fox are loud, adamant and pointed; I feel a little turned off by them. But that’s just me, there are millions of people out there that prefer the exact opposite. So yes, I am indeed biased towards tuning into Maddow and Olbermann every night, but I do take the time to listen to BillO and Hannity once every blue moon however irrational they might sound. Most of my friends would never watch those Fox “clowns” for the simple reason that they want to believe Obama is doing a great job; and most of Texas would not watch Maddow if she were the last reporter on earth. Ok, I am stereotypeing, but the point is that we like the networks which rehash what we believe.
2. News outlets need to make a profit too – Does Rupert Murdoch care more about the well being of Americans over his own balance sheet? News networks are not in the charity business; they are in the ratings business. MSNBC’s bush-bashing agenda has almost carried them to the top. And Fox has been investing serious resources into Obama-bashing to rally its own viewer-base. Of course, it could have been a lot worse if the government owned all the news channels, but what worries me is that the falling profits and recession could trigger even more bias in order to keep the revenue coming.
Most frightening of all is the increased radicalism at both Fox and MSNBC; while it is good to present both sides of the story, they have of late chosen to completely ignore that sacred line in the sand. The last one year has been nothing but a bloodied fist fight – the nightly name calling, sponsoring citizen protests, party-bashing, offhand jokes, blatant self-promotion. The tea-party ruckus from last week highlights this divide more than ever; yes, there needs to be dissent in a democracy, but that dissent must arise from the people themselves, not a news outlet. Media should not sponsor such uprisings, instead they should cover them for what they are so that the message is spread to other like-minded people. Get over it, there is never going to be a perfect government, and there is never going to be a perfect president, there is only going to be a majority of sorts. If everyone agrees with everything the administration does, there would be no checks and balances, and the government would gravitate towards authoritarianism.
Media has immense power in shaping people’s thoughts and opinions, and with such power comes moral and ethical responsibility. I truly believe that BillO can still be the bully and Olbermann can still be the smartass even if they chose to bash both sides. If the networks are trying to entertain us, somehow I don’t feel that entertained, I only feel disdain for such hatred and lie-mongering. The worst part is that the internet media is only two paces ahead of the broadcast media on the bias scale. I have yet to see Daily Kos and Drudge Report point one mistake in their respective parties; for the last few months, I have to desperately seek one, just one, unbiased political commentry – I’m still searching. I plea to you, big news, do not corrupt us, tell us things as they are without the added bullshit, if you have specific opinions please warn us about your affiliations beforehand so that you don’t mislead and miseducate us. And please dont make fair and balanced just another joke.