Public must identify media biases

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.

Xingzhou Zhu | Daily Trojan

Xingzhou Zhu | Daily Trojan

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.

1 reply
  1. G. Farland
    G. Farland says:

    Really! CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN were not biased toward George Bush while he was in office and mean spirited towards him. You have a short memory. Never mind how the lame stream media crucified Sarah Palin. If a Republican had been in office during Benghazi. The media would have covered it properly. There was an initial cover up at Benghazi because it was on 9/11 and Obama and Clinton would have looked bad. Then they lied about what happened. They were derelict on 9/11 because they refuse to understand we are in a war on terror. The truth is the media is now the enemy of the American people and refuses to asks the tough questions on US policy domestically and internationally, because there fellow progressive is President. American politicians are our servants voted in by us and accountable to us and not above the law. People died in Benghazi and someone must be held accountable or it will happen again. As for people making mistakes and give them a break, I can’t believe this is coming out of mouth of someone taking international relations at the university level. This is not a Kindergarten play lot. We elect our leaders to pardon my pun LEAD. They must be held accountable for their decisions as most grown ups I know do. I taught my son to “take responsibility for his actions” and to accept the consequences of those actions. I would be disappointed if he made a mistake and lied and covered it up on top of that. As for the name calling done by the media from both sides, it is called freedom of speech and press. Freedom of speech is not just acceptable for pleasant speeches and on subjects we agree with, but on subjects contrary to our own views . Too often today on college campuses free speech is stifled because students do not like what the speaker has to say. This is a dangerous road they are going down on when they deny free speech. What other lines will they start crossing that erode other freedoms such as religion, press etc.

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