Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Unfair and Imbalanced

Image result for kent brockmanHappy Wednesday, and welcome to another week of Take It or Leave It!

It's tempting to blame the current news culture on the explosion of cable TV and social media platforms, but the roots in America go back to at least the 19th century and the cutthroat days of newspaper publishing. In the late 1890s, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the New York World, and William Randolph Hearst, owner of the Journal, built a legendary rivalry. Hearst had made a huge success out of the San Francisco Examiner before moving to New York to do the same with the Journal. The competition between these two men, each seeking to out-do the other, helped plant the seeds for the sensationalism we see in the media today.

I'm not sure Pulitzer and Hearst could even have conceived of today's media environment. Never before has it been so easy to obtain and consume news that totally agrees with our own political and ideological leanings. I've heard it said that we curate our media intake, and I couldn't agree more. Call them bubbles or silos or echo chambers, but the result is the same: we ingest only what we want to ingest.

But this week, I poked my head out of my silo and set my bleary, world-weary eyes on Fox News.

Yes, that Fox News.

It was a long week.

And here's the thing: I have confirmed that I don't enjoy the on-air personalities and ideologies of Fox News. I disagreed with quite a lot that was said and was always relieved when I came across a news story that bordered on neutral. Vaping illnesses, say, or the flu. I think we can all agree that those things aren't wonderful.

But my big epiphany was the realization that somewhere, my doppelganger was gnashing her teeth at the sight of Anderson Cooper, disagreeing as vehemently with the news from the left as I do with the news from the right. Our media culture actively promotes the us vs. them mentality, and that is just not healthy for any of us. I know the stakes are high, and hopefully we're all trying to do what we think is right, not merely what feels habitual. But as long as ratings still matter, I don't know if that's possible.

My brief dalliance with Fox News is a definite Leave It. And it rather put me off of cable news in general, especially in these frenetic times leading up to an election year.


  1. In order to gather as many points of view as possible, and being a political junkie of the worst kind, I watch MSNBC, CNN, and FOX, and I also read as many other sources as I can on politically charged subjects. My conclusion is that everyone lies for viewers and subscribers, unbiased journalism is dead, and most people watch or read the sites/channels that parrot their own beliefs. It's a sad commentary on the state of the nation. Try the website -- It's fascinating to see the biases side-by-side.

    1. Agreed! And thanks for the Allsides recommendation. It's fascinating to see the news presented in that way.

  2. I'm not sure what Fox news is (being in Oz) but I gather it sits from the opposing side of the political line to where your views lie. As you say, the media promotes the slant of the situation that agrees with their perspective. In Australia, we have the same thing - certain media outlets are loved by the left, while others are preferred by the right (more media is left than right here, but I don't think that's uncommon).

    My biggest issue with all media is that it isn't unbiased any more. They are supposed to give us the facts and let us make our own decisions in line with our interpretation, beliefs, values etc. Instead they want to influence us to their way of thinking - and heaven forbid you disagree (regardless of side).

    Sorry about the long post, but it really saddens me that this is the situation the world is in now.

    1. How funny--I assumed FOX's reputation had oozed over the entire planet :-) The thing that really gets me about media bias is when one side accuses the other of something they themselves are doing. The hypocrisy of it all!