Legendary CBS news icon Walter Cronkite was perhaps best known for signing off with the definitive phrase “and that’s the way it is” to end his nightly program. Back then almost half a century ago, his trusted voice was widely accepted as gospel. Fast forward to modern society and a momentous rise of the digital age. Those days of the hallowed evening newscast once regarded as required viewing for Americans has forever since passed. Today a virtual slew of multimedia companies across the web chronicle current events and world affairs, many reported in almost real time. The press and it’s proverbial poles truly have shifted.
One recurring theme we often hear about that will be addressed in detail here is a potential bias within the major global news organizations. This applies to any partiality or skew that we may detect while crossing the great political divide. We carefully survey the muddy media landscape, raking through the prodigious piles of muck searching for objective truth.
Based on data compiled by a pair of self-proclaimed independent media monitoring websites, we quickly note numerous decided similarities that are evident off the bat. Beginning with the ideological left, we observed a number of notable news agencies that were flagged by those particular entities for displaying a clear cut liberal bias. Both allsides.com and mediabiasfactcheck.com cited these high profile news groups as leaning far left – CNN, Huffington Post, MSNBC, The Daily Beast and Vox.
Likewise they also identify several major media networks to be slanted just left of the center. These include ABC News, The Atlantic, CBS News, NBC News, The New York Times, NPR and Washington Post. Public Broadcasting Service’s PBS NewsHour exclusively voted in the same category by mediabiasfactcheck.com.
Curiously, they gave differing views on where to class CNN along with Politico. The Atlanta, Georgia-based CNN ranked as a far left outfit by mediabiasfactcheck.com. Yet allsides.com makes a distinction of classing CNN online news more favorably at slightly left of the center while rating CNN opinion as farther left.
Politico appears to be graded fairly ostensibly as a moderate left by allsides.com. But interestingly enough the Arlington, VA publication additionally has been rated among the centrist or “least biased” by its web counterpart.
The primary goal in journalism should always be preserving the integrity or objectivity of a story. The only major media outlets earning the distinction of being branded by our electronic arbiters as consensus nonpartisan or otherwise least biased were Associated Press and Reuters wire services. As part of a common refrain we found other divergent opinions there as well.
Among them are the internationally-known British Broadcasting Corporation plus Washington, D.C. political journal The Hill and USA Today. The BBC alternately is classed as a moderate left and centrist. Compared with The Hill and USA Today which allsides.com has planted firmly in the central spot while mediabiasfactcheck.com viewed them with a decidedly more leftist bent.
Noting the differences we discovered between our so-called independent third parties may lead us to inquire what kind of research and methodology are they using to determine the final result? They concede that no scientific method they can construct will prove to be wholly objective or accurate. The respective sites provide us detailed descriptions of their core philosophies and process. Similarly they both stress the importance of incorporating readers’ input. By extension mediabiasfactcheck.com includes the fringe players too. Pro Science, Conspiracy-Pseudoscience, Questionable Sources and Satire were added to fill out a prismatic field.
Moving over the dividing line next we learn they agreed on slight right of center tags for the D.C. periodicals Washington Examiner and Washington Times. Beyond that we notice a deviation in perception with how they see Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. Allsides.com sees Fox skewing a bit right as rival mediabiasfactcheck.com shows them solidly on the right. However WSJ scored in the middle with allsides.com though mediabiasfactcheck.com ruled them to be staunchly right wing.
So with the full picture now gradually coming into focus we highlight some of the main criterion used to judge bias. In their methodology section, mediabiasfactcheck.com listed varying forms of bias that are checked and evaluated when making this determination. Starting with Bias by Omission, or solely giving one side of the story. Besides that is Bias by Labeling. With two separate types – such as calling an elected official extremist simply because of one’s political affiliation. As well as declaring a certain partisan figure an expert or not providing full disclosure with regard to party ties. The third benchmark is Bias by Placement. This refers to a practice of selecting the strategic location picked precisely where a piece gets positioned on the page. Then there is Bias by Selection of Sources. Additionally they name Bias by Spin, Bias by Story Selection, Confirmation Bias, Loaded Language and a few others.
A couple of key questions they ask: Do the headlines and stories match? Does the story offer an alternate point of view? To gain a better understanding we must look at exactly who is pulling the strings. With a select group of show business conglomerates currently holding the greater majority of power. A list that is comprised of industry titans such as AT&T, Comcast and The Walt Disney Company. Further, National Amusements Inc. owns CBS though reportedly are deep into merger talks again with entertainment giant Viacom. This effectively covers every single alphabet news network airing on national television.
Another vital observation to share in that respect would be a case of the Washington Post and President Trump. The President’s long-standing and well-documented history of hostility against owner Jeff Bezos, a study in diplomacy or lack thereof all by itself. Has Trump’s personal dispute with the Amazon chief conceivably spilled over to professional ground? That is definitely worth a closer examination. The New York Times Co. has experienced an equally combative relationship with Trump. Does that adversely affect the way he is portrayed? This is merely a start.
Ultimately, no reporting bodies are completely neutral. We the people need to determine what is true.