A fair and balanced media does not exist, nor should it

Fair and Balanced MediaI find it ironic that in the middle of the Information Age, the media is failing miserably to do the job as democracy initially intended. In the past twenty years, the media has abandoned its responsibilities to the people and moved towards infotainment and a profit motif.

As a result, the media has striven to become what it was never intended to be; “a fair and balanced media.” If you look at the three main cable news networks; MSNBC, Fox and CNN, not one of them really lives up to that motto anyway.

MSNBC panders to the political left, Fox preaches to the political right and CNN fights to keep the middle. The evening news you find on the other networks is closer to what you might call fair and balanced, but they don’t qualify either.

Try as they all might to be fair and balanced, the news was never meant to be presented that way. To suggest that the news should be fair and balanced is to suggest that there are multiple sides to every truth or fact. There isn’t, facts are facts.

The sole purpose of the media is to report the facts as they see them. Nothing else. It should be up to the people watching to form their own opinions and critique what they see.

If these news outlets stuck to the facts, a lot of the fluff and daily repetition we see on daily broadcasts would be cut down significantly. Hollywood gossip would be significantly reduced. Talk of Benghazi would have ended a long time ago and Bridge-gate would only be talked about when the proof of Christie’s guilt actually surfaced.

By not taking facts at face value, these corporate news machines are actually doing the opposite of what they claim to be. If you claim to be fair and balanced, shouldn’t we see relative representation displayed on these talk shows?

For instance, ninety percent of people in the United States support background checks for purchasing firearms. If that’s the case, isn’t it disingenuous to be interviewing one person who supports it and one person who doesn’t? How is that fair and/or balanced?

I have a better example, which John Oliver pointed out on his new show “Last Week Tonight.” He started off by wondering why man-made climate change was still a debate in the media. After all, when 97.1 percent of scientists agree on something, it becomes something you can’t debate; a fact.

He goes on to say that if we have to have a debate regarding climate change, it should mathematically represent the two sides accurately. He then welcomes a climate skeptic and Bill Nye, but to make things fair and balanced, he then invites two more climate skeptics on stage, along with 96 other scientists. The Skeptics were obviously drowned out.

The mainstream media actually tries to avoid talking about facts these days and they do so deliberately. Why? Because you can’t have a debate about a fact. Facts are boring compared to two people arguing over myths and gossip. Aside from the corporate influence over the media, it’s why you don’t see many stories about the environment, income inequality or gun violence.

I’m not saying the news media never reports on the facts anymore, but when they do, it usually concerns the most mundane issues that don’t really affect anyone, except those involved. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down in the Indian Ocean, that’s a fact, but I don’t need to hear about it every day. Instead, we should be learning about all the garbage we found in the ocean instead of the plane. If we heard about that on a daily basis, maybe something would get done about it.

Climate change, income inequality and guns have a negative impact on our society and affect us all, these are facts. When the media is forced to deal with a story related to one of them however, for some reason they seem to resort to questioning these facts.

Is it more entertaining to the viewer to watch a debate about climate change than to watch a debate about possible solutions to it? Somehow I doubt it, but that’s what we get with a so called “fair and balanced media.” It drives me crazy.

This type of journalism isn’t just reserved for Fox News, but it is driven by them. As depraved as Fox News is, they are the most successful at what they do. They have the most viewers and make the most money, that’s why other news networks try and emulate them.

Fox news first coined “Fair and Balanced” for their station’s slogan. And even though they aren’t fair and balanced in the slightest, other stations inappropriately adopted it after seeing Fox’s success.

Some people might argue that without the fluff and infotainment, there would be too much air time leftover to fill-in a 24 hour news cycle. That’s not true of course. They could start debating actual solutions to problems, instead of the facts surrounding them. Even better, they could invest more time resorting to actual journalism, like the investigative type.

I guess the point I’m making here is that a fair and balanced media doesn’t really exist in the first place. Nor should it. It needs to be fair in terms of the facts that are reported, but facts cannot be balanced.

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Your point is well-taken but there is a problematic in your argument.

    To conflate “facts” and “news” is to draw a false equivalency. Your Benghazi argument is a perfect example.

    The “facts” of Benghazi seem clear.

    However, a very loud minority of Americans, whipped up by right-wing demagogues and right-wing money and driven by an incomprehensibly virulent hatred of this president, refuses to accept those “facts” and/or refuses to accept what those “facts” imply.

    The shape and form of their denial of the facts, whether we like it or not, becomes “news.” And, because it is news, it is going to be reported on by the “news media.”

    You’re right that they’re not going to report it in “fair and balanced ways,” but they’re going to report it because it is news. And the issue of “factual” or “counter-factual” often has nothing to do with whether something is deemed “newsworthy.”

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