Our lackluster media
Do our national politics really represent the struggles of everyday Americans? Does our media truly report “newsworthy” political events? Or, perhaps, does the media engage in shaping the agenda, in implementing an agenda, rather than giving the public a well-rounded perspective? These are important questions I have sought to answer.
More and more, I am frustrated by the quality of the news reporting from major media outlets. This ranges from MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and every other organization in between. From both sides of the political spectrum, I am dismayed by the content of news reports because of how heavily laden they are with personal political preferences. This, in turn, slants the perspective the article or news report was given.
As someone who ponders seriously the Biblical question “What is truth?” this type of news reporting has unfortunately impaired that search because it requires pushing aside the heavily infused personal politics and delving into the actual content of the reports. When doing a deep search in this manner, I have thoroughly enjoyed the content, from various news outlets.
The danger, however, of a media that is increasingly partisan itself poses a fundamental threat to our democracy. This is not to say I believe in some grand news conspiracy that is pushing their leftist agenda on society to implement their diabolical plans. Or, as some may say, the Mainstream Media is the arm of the Democratic Party. Honestly, that’s all a load of bull.
However, the fact that there is a definite skew in favor of democratic ideas is unassailable. The left side of the political spectrum certainly has a greater representation of views when considering the pervasiveness and popularity of news sources. Rather than being some grand Machiavellian scheme, this is moreso the reflection of our politically charged society.
Wherever we go, politics abound. You cannot escape it at church, at school, the gym or even the office. We have an insatiable demand for politics even while many of us despise it. Because of this public demand, and because of the political environment, reporters can’t help but infuse their own views into their writing. At times, these views have been subtle, veiled, only coming out as tiny barbs. Now, however, the views shape the content, giving another victory to partisan identity politics.
The danger of this misrepresentation or overrepresentation of one view by the powerful media elites is that it shapes the rest of the populaces’ views. These large organizations have been established and gained name recognition; whether we like it or not, this name recognition influences the believability of the reports without further verification. We are more willing to accept as fact the reports from one established news source than smaller less established sources.
Once again, this does happen on both sides of the political spectrum, and both scenarios are equally reprehensible. As President Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.”
The other danger of this type of media over-representation is that it marginalizes the views of those on the other side of the spectrum. This type of marginalization often creates antagonism, putting the minorities on the defensive. When on the defensive, some within this group turn to extremist positions — extremist outlets — to combat the marginalization and “othering” they feel. This extremism only serves to create further antagonism, further dividing the country along partisan political lines.
Some may push aside these claims, dismissing them as overly dramatic. But don’t we all know at least a person or two who has been driven by these circumstances? Who has sought to reinforce their positions rather than reevaluate them, accepting as truth and doctrine the words of talk radio hosts?
While I seek proper grounding in both camps, I must admit that I have felt some of the anger some Americans feel at the media. I am tired of these powerful media companies reporting the news in such a way that ridicules my faith, my values and my political ideology. Too often, mainstream media outlets are dismissive of any smacking of conservativism.
Mostly, I am tired of the condescending tones and their upturned noses, as if somehow, because I am a conservative and I happened to vote for President Donald Trump, I am the worst person on the earth, delusional at best and mostly a danger to our democracy. There is a clear condescending attitude in these major news sources.
But I still read and watch their news, evaluating their opinions, seeking the truth amidst their blatant bias. And, often, too often my friends would say, I agree with their assessments. But I cannot agree with their blatant mistreatment of conservativism, their mocking attitudes toward those who do not share their views. This is precisely why I do not listen to any talk radio.
This type of news is unhealthy. This type of overrepresentation and blatant bias harms a diverse America because it eliminates diversity and culturally enforces political values through shame tactics. It’s time to stop. It’s time to report, not shape, the news.
Tayler Bingham, a Blackfoot native, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University-Idaho and is currently a Masters of Public Administration student at Idaho State University. He works as an administrative associate for the City of Blackfoot.