Tomi Lahren. Arianna Huffington. Jon Stewart. Bill O’Reilly. Rachel Maddow. Glenn Beck. Samantha Bee.
This is a short list of left and right leaning news anchors and commentators. The most important thing these people, as well as countless others, have in common is that they use their popularity in the media to gain influence over the large group of people who follow them.
Meant to be be a sort of “fourth branch of government,” the media has grown one-sided, corrupted by special interests and overrun with journalists who no longer hold journalistic integrity to a high regard. This is a problem.
Ever since Donald Trump first announced his candidacy for president in 2015, he has been attacking the media for dishonesty and “unfair” reporting. He eventually coined the term “fake news,” which is now the prevailing term causing the mainstream media to struggle. One could point out that the media is supposed to be harsh on elected officials and that fairness is irrelevant, and they would be correct; however, there is much more to this issue than unfair reporting, and Trump is not unjustified in pointing out a problem here.
The media today cares about mainly one thing over all else: Ratings.
In 1985, Jim Shepherd, one of the founders of CNN, left the company after growing “disgusted with what they wouldn’t report.” He recently explained why, explaining clearly what was going on with the company. “Part of what happened to CNN is what happened to Hollywood,” he said. “The news, like Hollywood, became trapped in creating and fawning over celebrities. Getting Anderson Cooper publicized became more important than breaking the big story. When you have celebrity reporters telling you how they feel about being in Iraq instead of reporting on how our troops are doing you begin to lose perspective. … Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, and the rest are stars, not reporters. They’re not hunting for the truth. They’re telling you what they think and what they think all comes from the cocktail parties on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and from conversations with other reporters.”
The raw, unfiltered news is boring. People do not want to know the good things or the important things. They want to know the interesting things. Most of all, they want validation for their own views of the world. Liberals watch liberal leaning anchors, and conservatives watch conservative leaning anchors.
The result of this is that media outlets now craft stories in such a way that the facts become hazy. Articles will now leave out certain details, or they will craft their words in such a way to leave the reader coming to the intended conclusion.
Examples of the one sided media can be found everywhere.
What about the “special interests” I mentioned near the beginning? Who are they, and how are they corrupting the media?
On the right, there are the Koch brothers, who funnel tens of millions of dollars into right wing think tanks, magazines, political candidates, and even full newspapers. They competed in a bidding war for Tribune Company’s newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Sun-Sentinel in Florida. Other right wing media influencers include billionaires like Warren Buffett and Rupert Murdoch. Buffet purchased the paper of his hometown, Omaha World-Herald, in 2011, 63 papers from Media General in 2012, Tulsa World and News & Record in 2013, and he is still going. Murdoch owns The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, as well as others in the UK and Australia.
Then there is George Soros. Soros is a major founder of left wing movements and organizations. He owns the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC, and he has given over $48 million to funding the media since 2003. A lot of that money goes to his foundation, the Open Society Institute, which funds others, such as his Center for Public Integrity, which received $651,650 in 2009. On the board of directors of the CPI are Arianna Huffington and Christine Amanpour, prominent figures among journalists.
A Forbes article wrote that the “OSI is one of several foundations funding the Investigative News Network (INN), a collaboration of 32 non-profit news organizations producing what they claim to be ‘non-partisan investigative news’. OSI also provided nearly $1 million to the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) from 20003 to 2008 which produces lots of stories on climate change alarmism and evils of big companies. CIR’s board and advisory board members include San Francisco Chronicle President Phil Bronstein, former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie (now VP), and CBS News Producer George Osterkamp.”
Both sides of the political spectrum are controlled by powerful men with agendas, and those media faces Jim Shepherd referred to as “stars” repeat that agenda without hesitation. As long as their reporting gets good ratings, they continue doing it.
Luckily, their ratings are no longer looking good. When asked how to fix CNN, Shepherd laughed and said, “It’s happening now. CNN’s ratings are plummeting. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have seen their staffs cut as their circulations have dropped. CNN now has as many viewers as they did in 1985.”
Unless the media steps up and places truth and journalistic integrity before popular stories and special interest agendas, they will not last. Doing so is crucial for their business. The news media needs to put its resources into finding good, principled, motivated journalists.
They need to do this, not only for business, but because it is the right thing to do for the world of journalism. I care a lot about honest journalism, and I believe it is important. There is such thing as ethical standards in journalism, and far too many of today’s journalists neglect these altogether. The media plays a crucial roll in our society, often acting as a “fourth branch of government.” Until the media starts taking its job seriously, I will continue to speak in opposition to the mainstream media, and others should do the same.
Bell, Larry. “Billionaires Battle Over Media Influence: Koch Bros./Murdoch Vs. Soros/Buffett/GE.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 5 May 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/05/05/billionaires-battle-over-media-influence-koch-bros-murdoch-vs-sorosbuffettge/#fd6f1326fbf0.
Buescher, John. “The 4th Estate as the 4th Branch.” Teachinghistory.org, teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/23821.
Chavkin, Sasha. “The Koch Brothers’ Media Investment [UPDATED].” Columbia Journalism Review, 22 Apr. 2013, archives.cjr.org/united_states_project/the_koch_brothers_media_invest.php.
“Ethics In Journalism.” Ethical Standards in Journalism, Journalism Degree, http://www.journalismdegree.com/ethics/.
Miniter, Frank. “A CNN Founder Answers Why The Media Is Often One-Sided When It Comes To Guns.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 July 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2015/07/23/a-cnn-founder-answers-why-the-media-is-often-one-sided-when-it-comes-to-guns/#7376a1115190.
Nomani, Asra Q. “Billionaire George Soros Has Ties to More than 50 ‘Partners’ of the Women’s March on Washington.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2017.
Rieder, Rem. “Buffett Admits an ‘Almost Unnatural’ Newspaper Love.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 5 Mar. 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/rieder/2013/03/05/rem-rieder-warren-buffett/1965197/.
Siu, Diamond Naga. “Trump: Fake News Media Is ‘out of Control’.” Politico, Politico, 21 Aug. 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/21/trump-fake-news-jerry-falwell-jr-241859.