Because of the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found herself in front of the firing squad known as Congress in a special hearing to determine if her actions directly led to the deaths of several Americans.
As a reputable news source, Fox News decided to cover the hearings, yet it was almost impossible to ignore the obvious bias the network has against liberal ideologies.
Pick up a newspaper, watch a segment of the news or tune into the radio station, and a realization will transpire: You’re either reading, watching or hearing a human.
And ultimately, human beings err. Human beings make blanket statements and rude comments. They lie, cheat and tell half-truths. Somewhere in all of this human error lie journalists — individuals who are paid to remain unbiased and provide society with the facts.
Unfortunately, society cannot hold humans to unattainable standards of fairness and balance. Part of the problem is that the public argues that the media must be completely unbiased, while simultaneously thirsting for for riveting news stories and explosive headlines.
Viewership depends on the nature of stories, and more often than not, media outlets sensationalize stories to increase viewership. For instance, the saying “if it bleeds, it leads” emerged from the increase in crime reporting among news organizations.
But is it entirely wrong for news outlets to pay the bills using these tactics — especially when society seemingly would much rather feel entertained than intellectually stimulated?
Admittedly, the media’s actions are unforgivable in some instances. Portraying First Lady Michelle Obama as “Obama’s Baby Mama” on Fox News is inappropriate for all American audiences. And condensing Clinton’s congressional testimony into four mocking bullet points such as, “Hey guys — this stuff is hard!” is both inaccurate and disrespectful.
And though conservative media outlets are often critiqued for their ridiculous proclamations, liberal news sources must also be examined.
The Western Center for Journalism points out the copious ways in which media has tipped in favor of leftist movements such as Occupy Wall Street. Moreover, Huffington Post reporter Michael Calderone compares the strong liberal opinions of MSNBC hosts to conservative Fox News hosts.
Human beings obviously have opinions, but media outlets cannot pretend to be unbiased when their shows and hosts push a specific sort of agenda. As long as these news sources admit to their positions, then the public will better understand the nature of the news that they’re digesting rather than fall sway to a skewed version of events.
A study conducted by Farleigh Dickinson University polled a variety of viewers using currents events questions. They determined that NPR viewers were among the best informed, and viewers who preferred watching Fox News were the worst informed.
Perhaps this information shows that the public may not even have to focus on bias in media, but rather on the content and depth of the information shared. The American people should feel capable of answering questions regarding economic sanctions or the level of unemployment as citizens of this nation. But if news sources fail to provide the people with the objective facts necessary to participate in energizing conversation, they fail society altogether. If the only things the American people can discuss after watching a segment of Fox News are gossipy, mean-spirited details about the Obama family, a drastic change is necessary.
One cannot watch Fox News or MSNBC and expect completely impartial reporting. No matter how hard a journalist might try, their individual beliefs will almost always manage to creep its way into a story, especially if an organization promotes a particular angle.
Though we might trust the media with informing us of the news, gathering the most correct version of the facts is still up to us.
Rini Sampath is a freshman majoring in international relations.