As someone who has always admired the office of the Priesident and the media, you can imagine that I am not thrilled with Trump’s all out war on the media. There’s more to it than just that, though. I find it appalling that in 2017, the leader of the free world does not understand the importance that the media plays in our society and in all free societies. And although he is manipulating the media to his advantage (I’ll explain how in a moment), I still do not believe that he has a fundamental understanding of free press or of the importance of media in our democracy.
What’s All The Bias About?
Let’s start with the fact that free societies, ours included, are generally governed and those who govern are frequently the topic of media scrutiny. This is also a good time to point out that no matter what the story, ALL news agencies have a stance. It is unavoidable. Let’s say, for example, a local news network is covering the rape of a young woman on a college campus. The tone of voice, and the reactions of anchors, etc. show that the news station disapproves of the perpetrator’s actions, which is bias. Although it is warranted, the news agency is showing bias and is not being purely factual in its reporting, even if the things that are being said are all fact and no fiction. As another example, let’s say a news station is covering a pet adoption event at a local pet store. Again, you can tell from the way that the reporter covering the event speaks and the way that the anchors react that they are pleased by this event. They approve of the situation. This, too, is bias. We crave bias from our media. It’s the reason that we, as human beings, watch the stations and channels and videos and blogs and websites that we watch. We are looking for a bias that aligns with our own.
With all of that being said, it is important for the media to stay as factual as possible and report with as little bias as possible. There will still be some bias because those covering the stories and bringing them to the people are themselves human beings with opinions and thoughts and ideas about what is good and what is bad. And THAT IS OKAY. Where things begin to turn ugly is when a news organization begins to report things that are not factual. When a news agency reports things that have no basis in fact, say for instance when Breitbart reported that “birth control makes women unattractive and crazy”, that organization is using its platform to prey on the naivety of its audience and spread rhetoric that will enhance the image and ideals of a certain political party, instead of educate the public about things that are going on around them. It’s when this happens that a news organization has overstepped the boundaries of acceptable levels of bias and should no longer be considered a news organization and should instead be classified as an opinion/editorial source only. The sad fact of the matter is, though, so many people still turn to organizations like Breitbart for their news because the vicious and ridiculous things that these so-called news sites and stations report align directly with the biases that these people have. And hence the ignorance is fueled by more ignorance and no one ever gets ‘just the facts, ma’am’.
“Show Me On The Teddy Bear Where The Orange Man Manipulated You?” *Points To Head*
Now remember when I said earlier that Trump is manipulating the media to his advantage? This is where things really get interesting. Some people are susceptible to manipulation. In fact a great deal of people are or there would be no such thing as an infomercial or the home shopping channels that we see today. With that being said, Donald Trump is a master manipulator. It’s how he has gained all of the power and influence that he has had over his entire career. He lies and manipulates facts and figures to build up his image and the image of his brand and his businesses. And because people buy into the fact that these things are really as good or really as bad as he says they are, he manipulates the people, too. It’s how he has made his living and it’s all he has ever known. However, it means that ulterior motives are always on his mind and always on the minds of the other master manipulators that he has surrounded himself with.
So, when Sean Spicer holds a press gaggle and excludes such organizations as CNN, The New York Times, BBC, LA Times, etc., they are manipulating the media and creating the narrative that they wish to see played out. Trump whines and cries about how he wants the media to treat him fairly and he wants the media to report true stories and name their sources. However, that is his way of manipulating his supporters. Trump is actually quite pleased with the way things are going out there in news land. You see, if the Trump administration excludes those networks and agencies from a press gaggle, anyone who is not a right-leaning news outlet cannot report on the event, even if they want to report nothing but the facts about the exclusion of these agencies from the gaggle, without seeming as though they are left-leaning or biased. Trump is fueling this divide among the parties so that anyone left standing in the middle will be forced to choose a side. Choose the wrong side and be faced with potential backlash from his administration and the potential exclusion from press gaggles and eventually, possibly, from press briefings. Choose the side that favors Trump and his administration and enjoy access to the information and facts of what is happening inside the Trump White House, so long as you continue to paint Trump’s White House in a favorable light and report things the way that he wants them reported. It’s a very clever manipulation of the media and of the people at large. I am anxious to see what the future has in store and all of the ways that Trump will manipulate and change the landscape of media as we know it. One thing is for certain, though. When any administration or President limits that access of public information to any news organization, we should all be worried. This is how dictators begin to blur public knowledge and take advantage of the lack of knowledge about what they’re up to. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is a potential dictator. I am however, saying that we should all keep a close eye on the limits that he places on the media and be cautious in believing most anything that comes from him or his administration, as most of what they have disseminated up to this point has been false and has been designed to boost their ideas and ignore both fact and logic.
Fake News: Leftist Hoax or Real Problem?
While we are talking about Trump’s attack on the media and his manipulation of both the media and the opinions of those who sympathize with him, we should discuss this whole ‘fake news’ thing. I truly believe, based on hundreds of articles shared by hundreds of people on my Facebook timeline during the election and every day since, that fake news is a very real thing and it could, nay, has posed a great threat to our society. Each and every day I see more articles about more outlandish crap–political and otherwise shared by people who have no desire to do their due diligence and fact check the article before not only sharing said article, but accepting it as fact. The fact of the matter is, people are churning out fake news in drastically higher numbers than actual and factual news because it is padding their pockets. If you’re interested knowing how people make money off of fake news, you should read this article from NPR (and don’t give me any of that ‘they are democrats’ crap, either. This is an actual real news story that quotes its sources so you don’t have to get your panties in a wad) We Tracked Down A Fake News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned. So, if people are in the business of creating fake news for profit simply because it’s news that people want to hear, then why is it so hard to believe that multi-million dollar news organizations like CNN would do the same? Because CNN has made money for years reporting on actual news and never once before the 2016 election season was fake news ever even heard of, much less a concern of those on the right. The argument could be made that with all of the radical right-wing reporting that tip-toes over the line of fact and fiction done by Fox News and Breitbart and other organizations like theirs, prior to this election, they were the closest thing to fake news that anyone would have been concerned with. And still, no other president, that’s right even Obama, banned Fox News from any White House sponsored press events. The stories that you are reading stating otherwise are false, by the way. I do find it interesting, though, that Donald Trump has taken the fake news that swayed public opinion in his favor during the election and turned it back onto the factual news media. Just as any good manipulator knows, the whole “I’m rubber, you’re glue” principle really works well when trying to dissuade public opinion when your scrutineers are building a solid case against you and Trump, as we have learned, is no novice when it comes to manipulating. It’s very fascinating to me that someone can simply say ‘you know what? Fake news didn’t help me get elected and was not a concern at all whatsoever to me then, but because that term is now out there I’m going to use it to dispute fact and really confuse people so that they don’t know what they should believe’. And it’s working.
The moral of this story is to take the time to find the fact in anything and everything that you read, watch, or listen to. There’s a lot of bad information out the on all sides, so be aware that just because it’s out there in the ‘media’ doesn’t make it true. And just because the highest elected official in our land says it, well, that doesn’t make it true either. Stay #woke people.