Media Bias

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There are people who are either too biased (or aren't paying attention) to realize how biased the media is. We're not going to convince each other of anything: me with proof, and them by denying it. So this article isn't for "them". It's just a place for me to collect example's of media bias, for those rational enough to consider them.

The Big Lie

There are two groups of journalists, those that admit they are human, flawed and biased, and those that lie about it. To a point, all outlets will pretend they are above bias/agendas -- but actions speak louder than words. And the louder they claim they are fair, or scream against the other side for not being as fair as they are, the more we know they are probably not what they claim.

If you have the facts on your side, you can cooly present both sides, and trust your audience. The less facts, the more you resort to Ad Hominem's (attacking the source), or spinning, to distract from the weakness of your position.

There's a famous chart that goes around Facebook, that places where media organizations fit on the left/right spectrum as well as the credibility versus clickbait sensationalism spectrum.

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I love it, because it exposes the bias of anyone that reposts it (without mocking the bias of the creators). I mean it was created by a far left website, for the purposes of click-baiting, and maligning the other side. It makes claims that MSNBC isn't hard left, or that CNN and USA Today are completely centrist? That the Economist (with their pro gun-control, anti-fiscal austerity, anti-brexit and anti-Climate skepticism) leans firmly right wing to them? And to them, NYT which openly admits their bias, and WaPo which is even more biased are both centrist to them? Rent a fucking clue, because you don't have one of your own.


I decided to create my own, to show how I thought they were "off" and why. But it needs some explanation.

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  1. I de-noised theirs -- they put in too much cruft
  2. NYT and WaPo both move left. Their editors and fired ombudsman all admit that bias, I guess the chart-men didn't read enough to know that.
  3. Mainstram outlets ABC, NBC, CBS all have a known bias/skew left. From cancelling conservative shows with high ratings, to their partisan talk shows with disastrous ratings like the View, and many News gaffe's from Dan Rather, or Brian Williams, "I was there" tropes, their credibility deserves to be lower.
  4. NPR, BBC, and other Public Broadcasters are paid by the government, and exist because of the politicians. Does anyone really think they don't have a pro-government (pro-left) PoV? They need to skew left and down because of that bias.
  5. AP and Reuters are known to be left leaning, and they have a broad swath of articles that vary from bland and informative to craptastic bias and tripe. But for second rate organizations that want lots of editorial filler between ads, they gobble this stuff up. Still, they're not middle, and they're not high standard -- they're left and less than completely reliable (with some good and bad mixed in).
  6. HuffPo, MSNBC, VOX are far left blog-quality outlets with extremely low quality control (against bias, or even fact checking). Sure, VOX, Vice, or even HuffPo occasionally has a good piece. Even Maddow can rarely come off as semi-informed (as long as you aren't too skeptical) -- but that's not the same as being soft left and highly analytical. They're pretty hard left, highly biased, and they will happily tell half-truths or worse. Thus they needed to move left and down.
  7. Wherever you HuffPo or Vox type far-left blog sites, many right blogging sites like Townhall or Breitbart are at least as credible (if not slightly more so)... even if they have a slightly edgier tone by being less politically correct to generation TidePod. The reason they aren't as bad isn't some ethical superiority, it's just pure scrutiny. Since the press-pool leans left, they will fact check and be far harder on the right leaning blog sites, so by nature of size of megaphones, they have to be better to be treated as close to the same. If the left held their side to the standard they held the others, they might behave better quality as well.
  8. There are the fanatical sites: ThinkProgress, OccupyDemocrats, Media Matters, and organizations like that -- that exist purely as meme and disinformation generators. Now I don't mind meme's, if there's some honesty, shock or enlightenment. But virtually all theirs are lies of omission or commission. So they belong to the left and below anything on the right. InfoWars can get conspiratorial -- and their quality is all over the place: from good to poor. But even their worst pieces are doing a service by giving voice to the under-represented, and are usually less openly dishonest. TP and OD are just liberal echo-chambers, every bit at conspiratorial and nasty. But at least a few of InfoWars pieces are grounded in truth.
  9. The Atlantic is highly biased (as their recent firing of Kevin Williamson showed), and while their quality is all over the place, they do have some extremely good pieces, and I give them more credit than any other left leaning outlet. There's a few that match them on the right like think tank AEI, Legal Blogger (Legal Insurrection). In fact, Reason and the DailyWire, are both highly analytical, even if they're more ideological.
  10. In the middle we kind of have Politico and Drudge -- both have a bias in their story picking, but for the most part they are just aggregators, and will link stories from either side (even if they have some favorites).
  11. CNN is a laughing stock had many more total fuck-up stories last year than FoxNews (probably 4:1). That doesn't make Fox News saintly, it just points out how bad CNN is for News. If you like them for the quantities of Fake News that they shovel or far-left dogma injections and confirmation bias, they're great. Just don't pretend that they're innocent journos with no bias.
  12. Lastly is the dreaded FoxNews. Yes, FoxNews is flawed, and they've made plenty of mistakes. Yes, they have opinionated hyper-partisans (like Sean Hannity). But so do the others -- and if you just look at their hard news, they're pretty good. They weekly have a good gaff, and monthly a real boner in their talk or morning shows, but the major outlets have slips and embarrassments all the time as well: many of them FAR worse. That doesn't make FoxNews saintly or perfect (be skeptical of everything), but there's a reason they beat the other cable channels, and it isn't all confirmation bias.

Conclusion

I recommend that everyone try watching both sides on the same topic. CNN rarely offers insights that you can't find on other mainstream (left leaning) outlets -- and many of those later get debunked. So they don't add a lot of value over the things I can listen/read/watch somewhere else. While FoxNews or WSJ often reports things that you're never going to hear on the other channels -- and those things can significantly change the context of what you think is going on.

The same, I suggest reading http://newsbusters.org (conservative) AND https://thinkprogress.org (alt-left) for a week or two, and compare each sides complaints about the other side (in scale and scope). Double-check a few of them for validity. Occasionally, I catch Newsbusters or MRC (their parent organization) committing a lie of omission... and more occasionally I catch ThinkProgress telling the whole truth.

The only way to be informed (judge), is get informed first and try viewing things from both sides. Reading the Times or CNN won't do that. Nor would exclusively watching Sean Hannity. But you can't avoid exposure to the left's news, because it's everywhere. But the left can easily avoid or wave off the rights news: and that makes them more spiteful, ignorant and self-deluded when they do.

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📚 References