I’m taking a bit of a break today from the more arduous reads about the Constitution, Supreme Court cases and the like, to give you a little insight into the media. If you’re like me, you’re pretty sick of the media’s blatant bias and constant trashing of the current administration.
For me, the media is one of the most frustrating aspects of politics today. It was meant to be used for good, as a way to hold those in power accountable—and yet it has turned all-together into something else, and I’m not even sure what that something else is.
Regardless of what it has turned into or the bias associated with it, there are a few facts that you should know—-and these are facts that even your liberal friends, co-workers or acquaintances won’t be able to argue against. Why?
Because they’re facts.
Only Six Companies Own 90% of All Media
Yup. You read it right. In the 1980s, around 50 companies owned the majority of all media outlets, but since then that number has drastically dropped. So, right now these are the six companies that own around 90% of all media outlets:
AT&T: recently purchased Time Warner which owns Warner Bro’s, HBO, CNN, Life etc
Disney: ABC, ESPN, Marvel, History, etc
Comcast: NBC, Universal, The Weather Channel, HULU, etc
Fox or New Corp: FOX, 20th Century Fox, National Geographic etc
Sony: Sony Pictures, TriStar, STARZ
National Amusements: CBS, Paramount, Nickelodeon, MTV etc
Guys, I’m not sure if people realize the impact that this consolidation of ownership has on the way news is transmitted. Have you ever noticed how every major news media TV program seem to use the same “phrases” or give the same exact slant to a story as all the others? The ownership determines the message the company is supposed to publicize. Since there are so few companies now that own almost every media outlet, the messages are all starting to sound the same because the agendas are almost all the same. Even the movies and TV shows are virtue signaling. Which leads me to the second fact you need to know about the media.
2. The Media Sets the Agenda (Even for Government)
This is pretty intuitive, but until you stop and think about it you may not have really realized the immense amount of influence the media has on the public agenda. By agenda, I mean the list of “things” we deem important or in need of repair in society—and thereby end up demanding government to fix.
Here’s a thought.
What if the media never said a word about immigration (illegal or legal), the border or anything related to that topic? How much do you think an average American would care about immigration if it was never discussed by anyone in the media…ever?
Curious thought, right? You probably had to concede that most people probably wouldn’t think about it, which means it probably wouldn’t be something government officials make a big deal of either. (Now, some legitimate issues regarding illegal immigration are happening so it’s hard to see people in government or in the media completely neglecting it…but then again, they have sometimes neglected very important stories)
Here’s another thought.
Think of something, some issue, that you know is really important, that no one in the media is talking about. What about sex trafficking in the US? Did you know that sex trafficking in the US is one of the worst in the world?
The media may mention sex trafficking (or whatever issue you chose) every now and again, but it is not a major issue on their agenda. They have an agenda (a to do list) that they want to see accomplished and this means that the stories they choose to cover are going to fit within their agenda.
I can’t emphasize this enough. The media controls the flow of information. This “control” is an immense amount of power. They choose which stories to cover and which stories to ignore. They can’t feasibly cover everything, so they don’t, and in doing so there is innate bias.
The government responds to the people when the people get riled. The people get riled when the media riles them up about something the media says is a problem. Get the picture? This is a fact, not an opinion.
3. The More Access to Information We Have, the Larger the Information Gap Grows
So, here’s how this works. We (Americans) now have access to more information, from various sources and viewpoints, than we’ve ever had—-ever. This is because of social media, the internet etc. So, scholars began to ask the question.
Has more access to information finally solved the age old “information deficit” problem?
In other words, are we finally going to have an informed citizenry voting because people who previously didn’t have access to information, now have access to free information quickly?
The answer is YES and NO.
Basically, the already informed/engaged/educated citizens are becoming more informed because they have more access to information than ever before, WHILE the less informed/engaged/educated are becoming LESS informed because they have more access to everything other than politics (can someone say cat videos 😹) than ever before.
In other words, greater access to information has just deepened the “information” gulf between the informed and uninformed. Those who were already diligent to stay informed are now more informed, those who didn’t care to begin with, are less informed —-especially because they have a plethora of other interesting stuff to distract them. These statistics speak for themselves: 3% of all web traffic goes to news sites and .12% (less than 1%!) of all web traffic goes to political sites.
4. The First Newspapers Ever Were Owned by Government
So, this whole “unbiased” media thing is not necessarily how it used to be. In fact, it was the politicians and parties who sponsored and controlled the news papers back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Around some 50 journalists were on the government payroll during this time.
So, when people say, “We have to get back to unbiased journalism!” Ask yourself, was there ever such a thing?
The benefit to this era of journalism is everyone knew what they were getting. If they read a Federalist newspaper, they knew it was biased towards that party—-and the same for the Republican newspaper at the time. There was no pretense of “unbiased” reporting.
(A little Liberty Belle musing: The more I think about it, the more I really think I’d prefer this overtly biased style of reporting because then at least, the bias would be acknowledged and out in the open rather than manipulating people to believe they are received an unbiased perspective, when they are not.)
5. Theodore Roosevelt Created the West Wing, Herbert Hoover Created the Press Secretary Position and Franklin Roosevelt Turned the Press Secretary Position Into What It Is Today
And that’s pretty much it, but I think it’s a less commonly known fact. The West Wing did not always exist, nor the press secretary position. This was really due to the fact that the executive branch was not incredibly powerful, or even acknowledged so much by the public. Citizens did not look to the president to set the legislative agenda like we do today.
But, Theodore Roosevelt gave the president a much bigger platform by creating a “wing” specifically for talking to the media. The president could then use the media to appeal to the people to get on his side on some issue…and pressure Congress to follow suit (there’s a lot more here that I’ll get into in my upcoming Thursday post)
6. Only 7% of Journalists Identify as Republican
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but it is a good fact to have tucked away in your mind—-especially to pull out anytime someone wants to claim the media is unbiased or biased toward the right side of the political spectrum. While the majority of journalists “claim” to be independent, 28% claim to be Democrat.
I’ll say this about the media, they need to simply own being Democrat. Don’t claim the whole “independent” thing. Political scientists have found that there really isn’t such a thing as an “independent” anyway, because almost every independent, when push comes to shove, leans Democrat or Republican.
Interesting facts, right? There’re a lot more out there that I’ll share with you eventually, but I think this is a good start.
I’ll leave you with this to consider. Do you really think the media can be unbiased. Let’s be real, no one is unbiased, so why would we expect the media to be? Why don’t we all just own up to being biased and go from there?
The Liberty Belle