Home > BLOG 2 > BLOG 2: IN HEADLINES TODAY: Bias exists. Shocking, I know.

BLOG 2: IN HEADLINES TODAY: Bias exists. Shocking, I know.

It’s a battle, right? Conservatives claim that all news has a liberal bias and liberals claim that the entire News Corporation has a conservative advantage. Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp. Liberals have a point. However.

The entire problem with the debate of media bias is the assumption that there is such a thing as pure objectivity anyway. Is there really such a thing–especially in the realm of news media? The very nature of writing is that there is some form of subjectivity that will leak through. Even in research–take political science research–doesn’t the very fact that an interviewer is human bias the questions asked? Interview bias, in other words, exists simply because the interviewer (usually) is human. Humans, by the very nature of being humans, are biased toward selecting certain questions and seeking for certain answers unconsciously.

So why (how) do we expect journalists (or other media-related affiliates) to remain completely unbiased? Or, for that matter, what does bias mean? As far as I can tell (to the average viewer) (of a certain political affiliation), anything is “biased” so long as what is being discussed is of the other political ideology. If Fox News talks about Sarah Palin’s positive policies, then it’s bias. If MSNBC lauds Barack Obama for his stance on health care, then it’s bias. Never mind the fact that maybe–maybe— (unlikely, but maybe) Sarah Palin did have positive policies or maybe Barack Obama did have an extremely effect stance on health care. Doesn’t the very fact, then, that you–the viewer–have bias and that you–the viewer–watch news segments and consume media through a specific frame (political or otherwise)–doesn’t that fact automatically lead to a perceived bias?

The point here is not so much that media sources are biased or unbiased, but, mostly, that media sources are most likely always going to be inherently biased–even a little bit–and if not, a bias will be perceived anyway, so what difference does it really make?

A few years ago, during a Politics & the Media class, I conducted a (rather crude) (but still mostly accurate) (well, it took a lot of time and effort, anyway) study of Al-Jazeera. Often claimed to be an extremely biased news source (who decided this anyway?) (probably Fox News) (hey, I never said blogs weren’t biased, isn’t that my entire thesis here?), I was curious as to see whether or not Al-Jazeera did carry an anti-American bias. My study followed the front page of Al-Jazeera’s website for a month to see mentions of the United States and using a tailored scale, measuring whether or not the mentions of the United States were negative or not. Study errors notwithstanding, my correlation statistics were rather unremarkable.

In short, if there was an anti-American bias in Al-Jazeera, then it was negligible at best.

But wait! Does that mean that there is or there isn’t media bias? Here’s the thing, Bugs, of course there’s media bias. In my opinion, it’s the very nature of humans and of media in general to be biased. (Who wants objectivity anyway?) (If we really wanted objectivity, we’d try to read textbooks.) (How many of you actually read your textbooks, let’s be honest here.) (For other classes, of course. Not for this one.) (The textbooks for this particular class are absolutely enthralling, in my opinion.) The point, then, is that media bias is really very negligible, in the long run.

Sometimes, of course, Fox News does things like this:

And then, of course, MSNBC does something like this:

But don’t the viewers of Fox News and the viewers of MSNBC already know what kind of media they’re looking for? I know very rare a Democrat who listens to Fox News for purposes other than sheer mockery and I knew very few a Republican who even bother flicking past MSNBC for fear that the liberal bias might, somehow, leech onto their skins.

So then, in the end, isn’t it the viewers themselves who create and consume media bias?

And, for that matter, shouldn’t we (the viewers) be intelligent enough to sort through the Bill O’Reillys, Chris Mathews, Glenn Becks, and Jon Stewarts of the world to form our own conclusions? If Fox News says jump, please, for the love of America, at least ask from what bridge?

Come on world, let’s use our brains a little. xoxo!

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