Public perception of the mainstream media is so low that President Trump’s petty fights with CNN might actually be helping him.
We’ve all heard that CNN is “fake news.” We’ve all seen that The New York Times is “failing.” And we’ve all read that The Washington Post is “Amazon.” But while President Trump, Tweeter-in-Chief, continues to troll the media back into the dark ages, it is important to understand what is happening with the mainstream media. The media is failing because it has become a vehicle of leftist propaganda that produces narratives, with malicious intent. Conservatives must not become reactionaries, but instead must stand their ground with facts and intellectual honesty.
Often times when someone cries media bias, the left will immediately point to Fox News because of its right-wing slant. However, there are some interesting statistics that highlight the mainstream media’s overall liberal bias. First, only 7% of journalists are Republican, according to a study conducted by David Weaver and Lars Willnat, professors of journalism at Indiana University. Further, and even more shocking, The Washington Times reports that Democratic journalists outnumber Republican journalists 4-to-1.
Knowing that there is this lack of thought diversity among today’s journalists, this next statistic won’t surprise you at all: 80% of the media coverage in Trump’s first 100 days as president was negative, according to Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. They also estimated that in his best week, Trump’s positive to negative coverage ratio was 30:70.
With all of this ‘cosmopolitan’ bias the media tries to hide, the American people are losing trust. The numbers speak for themselves. According to a poll conducted by YouGov, nearly 70% of Americans believe that media reporting is biased. Additionally, only 32% of viewers say they have a “great deal of trust” in the mainstream media, reaching an all-time low, according to Gallup. More, a recent NPR/PBS poll found that 37% of Americans trust President Trump, while only 30% trust the media. So when President Trump posts a tweet of him body-slamming CNN, it may actually be to his advantage.
Now, all of these examples show how public perception of the media is extremely poor, but it does not entirely explain why the industry is failing. Most journalists are not lying to us, but one reason as to why the media is failing is that they have succumbed to a psychological phenomena called “group-think.” This is when reporters surround themselves with others who think the same way, they start to report in a way that discourages individuality and pushes a common narrative, regardless of whether the narrative is truthful.
Additionally, the media’s group-think leads to confirmation bias, in which they exploit incidents that promote their agenda. An example of this is when the media points to a white person shooting a black person as an example of rampant racism in America, or refusing to associate acts of terror with “radical Islam,” and then labeling anyone who does so as “Islamophobic.” The media’s confirmation bias has a leftist agenda.
As I previously mentioned, another reason the media is failing is because from time to time, the narrative they push is completely false. This has lead to their stories being called “fake news.” But what defines fake news? According to The Guardian, fake news is “written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention.” This relates to their drive for ratings. And so, headlines have become more important than fact-checking, and the result is a laundry list of fake news:
- The New York Times claimed that Vice President Mike Pence was running a ‘shadow campaign for 2020.’
- ABC and NBC completely ignored West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s switch to the Republican Party, while CBS’s Anthony Mason gave it a mere 13 seconds of coverage.
- The New York Times tried to divert blame for the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise on Sarah Palin’s political ad.
- CNN was caught arranging Muslims wearing hijabs as a backdrop during a segment following the London Bridge attack in June.
With this rising amount of fake news, the media has rightfully lost most, if not all, credibility and continues to fail.
Finally, the media’s failure is driven by its desire for ratings and the 24-hour news cycle, which actually began with CNN. During the Cold War, CNN was the only newsgroup reporting live on the ground. It was a breakthrough in modern journalism, but then everyone followed suit. Now, the media is fighting each other trying to score the highest in the Nielson ratings. Serious journalism does not grab people’s attention anymore. The media has been reduced to headlines and click-bait, even if it means bending the truth or sensationalizing stories.
So now that we can see why the media is failing, it’s time for conservatives to ask the big question: what do we do? The only way for conservatives to fix the failing media is to promote the truth, no matter how much it hurts. We can criticize leaders when they do bad things, and praise them when they do good things.
As conservatives, we believe in individual freedom of thought and expression. We must believe that ultimately, the truth will prevail. We should report only by giving facts, and let the people at home decide how to interpret them. And while the liberal media continues to build an audience driven by ratings with distractions and phony scandals, we must maintain the moral high-ground, and stay committed to facts rather than a political ideology.
Sabin Sidney is an undergraduate at Wake Forest University. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Wake Forest Review.