Media Bias and Public Perception

March 13, 2016 (San Diego) Right Wing voters complain that the media is liberal. Left wing voters say that the media is biased. Both are correct. Though they are correct for different reasons. At one point the United States had a more balanced media establishment, that was owned by far more owners than at this moment.

To understand some of this, it is best to understand the role of the media in the United States. Theoretically it is the fourth estate, there to check on politicians, and educate readers on policies and issues. This was the role after the end of World War Two, and by law, media outlets remained in as many hands as possible. This led to a media establishment that also had international bureaus and interest in issues well beyond our borders.

There have been several forces that have converged to destroy this system. Instead, what has emerged is a media system with massive consolidation into few corporations and a definite corporate bent. The 4 companies that own most of the TV stations, as of 2015 are CBS, Comcast, Public Broadcasting and Disney.

You will not see a pro labor story in any major daily in the United States, or on the television. If there is a strike, this is presented as to how it will inconvenience the general public, not how workers benefit.

You will not see stories actually digging deep into the records of politicians running for office. What you will see is a horse race, one where entertainment has replaced analysis.

Why?

Today absentee corporations own more and more of our media. Focused only on the bottom line, they are cutting journalists, gutting newsrooms and replacing meaningful debate with celebrity gossip and junk news. And many of these corporations are dodging the Federal Communications Commission’s ownership rules to snap up more outlets and create media monopolies in markets throughout the country.

The more independent outlets a community has, the more different viewpoints will be presented on the air. But what happens when there’s no one left to compete? When one company owns everything in your town, it can cut staff and not worry about getting scooped by a competitor.

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The fewer reporters there are on the streets, the less journalism there is on the news. The fewer DJs there are at your local radio station, the more automated computers and pre-programmed playlists take over.

It has gotten so bad that in small towns if there is a major incident, there is no local radio station to warn people of the danger. This is a real problem, as Clear Channel, and the residents of Minot, North Dakota found out.

”KCJB, and every other radio station in town, were not reporting any news or information about the anhydrous spill,” explains New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg in his gripping book Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media. “Instead, all six of Minot’s name-brand stations—Z94, 97 Kicks, Mix 99.9, The Fox Classic Rock, 91 Country, and Cars Oldies Radio— continued playing a standard menu of canned music, served up by smooth-talking DJs trading in light banter and off-color jokes while the giant toxic cloud floated into town.”

The station was bought by Clear Channel. It could have been bought by any of the other major conglomerates and the issue would have been the same. DJs cost money, as well as news reporters. So operations were automated. The town had no radio station. The old adage of stay at your home and listen to thew news services was no longer working. Imagine if San Diego suffered that fate? All stations were in the hands of remote absentee corporations, and you had no field reporters in case of a major earthquake or active shooter? This is not a fantasy scenario in small towns. It might not be fantasy in larger markets if consolidation continues apace.

The Run to the White House

Media bias is a real thing. This campaign we have seen textbook examples of this. News services, especially the major ones, are following Donald J Trump and anything he does, is breaking news. At the same time they are ignoring Bernie Sanders. (We know some Hillary Supporters feel otherwise, but any honest examination of the media reveals that bias is not towards her.) The Intercept did this comparison last December.

As you can see, things were bad.

But in terms of coverage by the mainstream media, Trump is besting Sanders 23 to 1, by some estimates.

Some of this can be explained by the fact that Trump is the GOP frontrunner, and Sanders has consistently run second to Clinton. But it’s also partly because of what a spectacle Trump has made of himself — and because the media has consistently treated Sanders as a marginal candidate.

That was December, what about now? Things have not improved. In fact, after the upset in Michigan, Harry Enten wrote about the role of the media:

Either way, this result will send a shock wave through the press. Heck, I’m a member of the press, and you might be able to tell how surprised I am. This will likely lead to increased news coverage of the Democratic race, which Sanders desperately needs in order to be competitive next Tuesday and beyond.

Well, not only should Enten eat humble pie for the error of Fivethirtyeight to predict the upset in Michigan, but he also missed his mark regarding the increased coverage for Bernie Sanders. Simply put, it has not happened.

Why?

Sanders threatens the corporate order, and he should have stepped down already and let Hillary Clinton become the Democratic nominee. This was the way this was expected to go. That said. he threatens the corporate order, and as far as media is concerned, he threatened further media consolidation.

It is not just TV media.

The Washington Post ran a record 16 stories before the Michigan primary that reflected a bias against Sanders. This is according to FAIR.

WPSanders-768x408

The WAPO was bought by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, who has a libertarian bent. Why would Bezos be against Sanders in such a blatant way? Amazon would benefit for the passage and signing into law of the Transpacific Trade Agreement (TTP), and Sanders has run to get rid of the agreement. Sanders also would go after bankers and others in the establishment.

Major media does not want Sanders in office, at all.

Now how about Hillary Clinton…she is a Democrat, and to most of our corporations, it is preferable to have Republican control over all levers of power. Never mind that it has been under democrats that the economy has had the greatest expansions and free trade agreements have seen implementation.

There is media bias, against democrats in general. This is important to note. Never mind that the current media environment started under Ronald Reagan, but was finalized under Bill Clinton with the passage and singing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Then there is the use of propaganda in the United States against United States citizens. This is now legal. The news can lie to you with zero impunity. This was a local FOX station, but this is now a national standard.

broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so.

It gets worst.

Now it is legal to broadcast propaganda in the United States.

The content arrives with the enactment of theSmith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R- Texas) and Rep. Adam Smith (D- Wash.), which was inserted into the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The reform effectively nullifies the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which wasamended in 1985 specifically to prohibit U.S. organizations from using information “to influence public opinion in the United States.”

This electoral season has led straight to the end game of our media system. Not only are candidates from one party systematically ignored, but one has propaganda used against him passing as news. We are sure Clinton will see the same happen to her in the general election, incidentally.

But now we have media behind what can be best called as the rise of a new form of fascism in the United Staes. To top it off, we have actual propaganda run by the government

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towards citizens. We have all the elements for media control and bias, one that is not just ordered by the state, but done by corporations. This fits the classic definition of fascism.

 

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5 replies

  1. Its same bottle of B.S. with a different label accept it deletes all people of color because we don’t own shit or have shit to match the. Hierarchy of this fascist capitalist states of the union that being the USA!!!

  2. This election cycle has really shone the light on how biased the general media really is towards the establishment and status quo. Trump was attacked immediately at every turn and “written off” to try to affect the opinion of the general public.

    As Sanders gained ground, the media started focusing more on him as well, trying to frame everything he says and does in a negative light to slow him down.

    This is the year of the outsiders, and the so called “Fourth Estate” seems to be in the tank with the “insiders”.

  3. How can you say that there is a media bias against democrats when every survey of media workers shows that they overwhelmingly vote democrat?

    • Reporters tend to be neutral in other countries, but the bias is not coming from the news room. It is coming from far above, as in the owners.

      Did I mention they are overwhelmingly Republicans?

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