I want to call President Trump’s tweets and subsequent comments about the press being the enemy of the American people more of a “distraction” than an actual issue. His incendiary comments about “fake news” can be viewed that way since we spent the past few days talking about that rather than the bigger issue: the slow trickle of information about his campaign’s ties to Russia.
But, we can’t just view it as a distraction.
My fellow journalists can’t.
I will easily admit there is a lot of confirmation bias in the news we see on television or on the internet 24/7. Basically, the news we read and see is that which is “different” than the norms we see everyday. When there’s a protest, you are shown the people committing crimes, even if it’s a small group, rather than the thousands that are marching peacefully. Why only show that? Because our brains think that’s all that should be seen of the event. That is a fault of journalism these days. It helps sustain all of our confirmation biases, (all marchers are violent protestors, I seen it! or “I don’t need to hear from that conservative yahoo, he’s just a racist asshole!”) and it doesn’t matter your political leanings, we all rather watch the news we agree with because it’s easier for us.
But, when the President of the United States says the “news”, and mentions certain outlets, the most popular ones, are “fake news” and calls working journalists “enemies”, you have to look deeply into what he is trying to do to an institution that is there mainly to keep an eye on HIM.
Let’s take a look at the new “news” outlets the White House has granted press passes: Breitbart (the wonderful former employer of Milo fired on 2/21/17), Gateway Pundit (purveyor of not-so-truthful stories), InfoWars (the guy who thinks Sandy Hook was faked) and most recently, this “journalist”: Twinks4Trump, please…read who this “journalist” is before reading on. Here’s a quote, “I’m coming at this from a background in political policy and political philosophy, as opposed to coming at it from a background from pure journalism, where you’re just reporting on it,” the 2012 Bard graduate told NBC Out. “So I do think in some ways I’m a little bit more qualified than a lot of the journalists.”
The difference is glaring: journalists from the main news sites, even Fox News (despite what my liberal friends like to say) do not have an agenda. The folks who work for the sites above do.
Now, many could argue that I am showing confirmation bias because I BELIEVE those outlets to report fake news because I am a liberal and that doesn’t fit in with my world view. If you are conservative and think that, thanks for confirming your own confirmation bias.
It’s not that I BELIEVE those outlets report fake news: THEY DO. There’s a difference between the media writing stories you don’t like and media outlets actually writing pro-Trump stories. The writers of a good number of articles on the sites I mentioned above have zero understanding of what it takes to actually be a journalist. First and foremost, that is ethics. I took numerous ethics classes in school. I have been in ethical situations during my 17 years in a newsroom. It’s not confirmation bias for me to tell you that Sandy Hook was not a government operation as Alex Jones believes.
When the President labels actual journalists “fake” and “enemies” and calls on these “alternative” outlets first in news conference, he is doing exactly what he intended to do for years: spread the last little bit of discord needed to unravel the free press.
The mainstream media has ALWAYS been considered left leaning. Why? There are a lot of opinionated answers to that question. But, consider after the fairness doctrine was dropped, what happened: the rise of conservative talk radio, a few years later the rise of Fox News and a push to have purely right voices pushing stories in a different angle…an angle that helped conservative confirmation bias. Just look at a week of news and how it is being reported differently on both sides
And now, we have the leader of the Free World outright saying certain news entities are lying and are enemies? Here is a breakdown of the President’s news conference last week – the lies and the truths.
I have never written a slanted story or slanted in a manner to depict the subject of that story differently than what they were actually doing at the time. If the who, what, why, when, and how is disagreeable for you, ask yourself why you have that confirmation bias.
Journalists aren’t in this for the money. We aren’t in it for the celebrity. And we aren’t in it for some nefarious reason, like taking down people we disagree with.
Confirmation bias is a horrible thing, but it allows our brains to process all the information thrown at us daily. It’s up to you to determine if you are being biased in what you read and what you choose to read.