I’m taking an Ethics class this semester and I had to read a “Taking Sides” article on the mater of whether the media is biased. According to Fred Barnes, it’s a liberal media. According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., it’s a conservative media. Both arguments seem to be in response to the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Here is my feeling after reading both side.
There is not a doubt in my mind that the media is biased. There is not a doubt in my mind that the media is liberal and the media is conservative. It all depends on which station you watch as to which bias you hear.
I don’t feel that you can find a truly balanced news report any more and the debaters of this article don’t seem to think so either as they referred to all news outlets as either liberal or conservative. The media is not supposed to be either. It is supposed to report the facts and allow the public to decide for itself. When I was taking journalism, my instructor was quick to make us rewrite or eliminate words that slanted the reader’s opinion. Or if it was necessary to put something in the article that would slant an opinion, it was necessary to get the other sides story as well. As the old saying goes, there is his story, there is her story and there is the truth. It is the reporters responsibility to give you both sides of the story and it is the reader’s responsibility to find the truth. But the modern media doesn’t trust the public to find the truth on their own, so they spoon feed the audience the facts they want to be true. While this practice is completely insulting and largely annoying, what distresses me the most is the great divide that it has caused. Liberals and conservatives don’t just have different views. They see each other as the enemy. Each side is considered hell bent on destroying and eliminating the other side. Maybe it has always been this way, but to me this divide has been much stronger since 9/11. There was a mentality that rose up in this country that you were either with us or against us. At first, the nationalism put us all in the “with us” category. Then people (liberals) started to raise questions and they were immediately labeled as “against us”. The media continues to play up this divide, only now it’s not just about war in a foreign country. It’s about everything.
In my opinion, there is an expectation now that a conservative and a liberal cannot sit down at a table and have an honest debate with each other. It often shocks me to see Bill O’Reilly and John Stewart sitting down together time after time to have an old fashioned debate and yet rise from the table, not agreeing with each other, but still friends. The up side to these types of debates is that it allows the audience to hear each side’s point of view. Even though the viewer knows that the debator’s are arguing for their view, it’s the fact that you get to hear both views and decide for yourself which you agree with. And we don’t have to be enemies just because we disagree. That was one of the things that was supposed to make this country so great – the right to disagree.