Recently I was having a discussion with an acquaintance about how fake news is impacting the mass media. My acquaintance went on to point out that, I’d say that there is a significant political bias in the media against everyone including ex-president Donald Trump. I was taken aback by this and explained to him that, while I thought it was unfortunate that the media was taking sides, I didn’t see the media going that far and perhaps they were just playing the victim role to garner ratings. Indeed, I also told him that I thought that perhaps there are too many short-term goals for the media and perhaps the focus should be on long-term strategy and how to help our economy and the middle class get out of the unemployment line. Indeed, this is a good point and one that I have discussed with many professional business folks and academia researchers over the years.
However, the political bias and framing I mentioned earlier is more than a little disturbing because it’s pretty much a definition of modern society and civilization itself. In any case, the media is largely controlled by powerful pro-business interests which are also the major builders of global economy and political system. And the mass media itself is not really independent at all and often depends on those same businesses for support. It’s no wonder then that the media has been so caught up in the political arena and the general direction of our nation’s course.
Indeed, I also noted that recently I was at an airport and I happened to overhear two women talking about politics. One woman said that she likes President Trump’s performance and the other woman said that she doesn’t know anything about Trump’s performance. Apparently, these two politically polarized women had different political opinions (at least according to their local media). It’s not as if these two women were presenting totally opposing views; rather each of them was coming from a politically polarized place (one was a liberal, the other a conservative), but they both still had a completely accurate and sensible answer to the question.
Now then, I would like to point out that there is some reason to be concerned that some information (or “spin” or fabrications) given to the mass media is purposefully planted (or politically spun) to create a reaction or controversy. In other words, information given to the media is selectively given to generate a desired outcome. It seems to me, that if this is the case, then we have a problem with integrity in the media and the general public. I would submit to you that this could only mean one thing – that the general public (the “general,” meaning the entire population) may indeed be getting “information” from politically-influenced sources which have a strong political bias.
And this raises a further question – if the media is being manipulated to affect the political context of voters, then who else is doing the same thing? For instance, what about the “free market” think tank which is also funded by large corporations? That could be a clue that some of their information is also coming from a political party which has a strong bias in favor of the status quo. Further, consider that many media outlets are often co-owned by two or more news organizations.
Further, consider also the many bloggers who blog for money, and some who do it as a way to earn an income. Their personal gain is obviously irrelevant, but the overall bias is still there, albeit much weakened. If these same bloggers were to ever complain about a lack of political bias, they might lose their online visitors, which means their income. Therefore, it’s clear that political bias and its attendant political context are a real problem for the media, and for the broader society.
Now then, one could say that perhaps the problem with the current state of affairs is that all political bias and framing in the information flow have now become unintentional. This would seem to me to be an unfortunate situation considering that the intentions of those who are involved in the information flow have not been properly thought out. For instance, I’ve often heard politicians or pundits state that they are not allowed to talk about certain issues simply because such talk could hurt the country. Yet this line of reasoning is flawed from a number of different points of view. To begin, if a topic was bad for the country, one would expect such a topic to not be allowed to be discussed.
Also, if a topic was good for the country, one would expect such information to be allowed to be discussed. So, perhaps we need to look at the entire media bias and framing situation and ask whether or not this is intentional. Indeed, this might be a good idea and a proactive move. After all, if you are giving information that could help the country, you certainly wouldn’t want to be biased against it. After all, wouldn’t you like to give your advice and your opinion on the subject at hand, without having to resort to being politically biased? Indeed, this can be a very good way to start thinking, before you just start issuing statements like “this is why we cannot have a free and open press!”