This is a claim made by Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones, and it is the type of claim that will make one seriously wonder if we as a conservative movement are being trolled or not. You see, countries where the media is openly biased have a populace that believes more in global warming. And that, therefore, is proof that our own journalists should be more biased in their own reporting. Social justice and all that.
This comes from a paper written a few months ago by Jesse Shapiro of Brown University, and it presents a model of how journalism can fail when special interests are involved. The model itself is pretty simple: if journalists present both sides of an argument at face value, then special interests are highly motivated to invent plausible-sounding evidence for their side of the argument—regardless of whether it’s anywhere close to true. As long as they get quoted, the public will be suitably confused even if the journalists themselves know that it’s mostly hogwash.
No surprise there. But this works only if journalists abide by a convention which demands that both sides are treated as equally credible.
Drum does acknowledge at the end of the post that there are “pitfalls” to a more biased journalism in the United States. Naturally.
What I’m trying to understand is just how our media can be more biased as it is? You have journalists who are constantly treating one side better than the other. The media operates under what is known as Agenda-Setting Theory (which I have discussed before) – they set the tone of the day by choosing what they cover – and it is a practice that is inherently biased as a result.
The media has an (at times admittedly) leftward tilt, because the schools that train them are largely liberal schools. When these journalists choose what to write about and what to cover for the day, they are choosing what we will be exposed to. Make fun of Fox News all you want, but let’s not forget how obsessed with Bridgegate MSNBC was (for one brief example).
It isn’t that the media are not biased enough (they should not be, on general principle), but that the average American has virtually no faith in the media to report on anything anymore. You work in an industry that can’t even give you the facts without putting a slant on it, then you’re not going to get many people to trust what you say anymore. And, you can’t get people to trust you when you go into your day with a set agenda and report around that agenda instead of around what is happening as is.