On Oct. 25, Steven Crowder made a visit to the University of Michigan, broadcasting his podcast “Louder with Crowder” live from the Power Center of Performing Arts. Notorious for his unabashed honesty, one of Crowder’s main tenants is to break from the constraints of the “leftist” media and allow for free, uncensored speech. This got me thinking about media bias, something that has become prominent in the American political landscape ever since President Donald Trump rose to power during his “fake news” campaign. When you think about it, though Crowder may have escaped the liberally-rooted mainstream media, isn’t his show equally biased in the conservative direction? Not having analyzed his show enough, I’m not necessarily one to say; yet, with all this attack on the media, I did begin to wonder: Is there really anything wrong with media bias?
When it comes to something as rooted in subjectivity as bias, it becomes very difficult to objectively rate a source based on this benchmark. Neutral politics have become quite a rarity in the mainstream political field, and as a result, it has become increasingly difficult to find an easy way to discover a centrist source that doesn’t have any allegiance to either side. That said, however, a Gallup Poll found that 45 percent of Americans believe the media is biased and a whopping 66 percent believe the news media does not do a good job separating fact from opinion. Numbers don’t lie; it’s obvious that this seems to be a big problem to many American citizens.
The question then becomes, is it possible for someone to be unbiased? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University believe bias is intrinsic and unavoidable. In fact, it has been known for a while that everyone pretty much has inherent biases. Individuals are shaped by the environments and cultures in which they were brought up. Each different person grows up prioritizing some values over others. In that way, each person ends up with drastically different natural biases. As such, asking for an unbiased news report is truly impossible. But, asking for facts and not “fake news” isn’t.
Understanding inherent biases is a big step in being able to better make informed decisions on what’s true and false as well as what’s fact and opinion. It’s OK for a reporter to offer his or her opinion on a fact or a news piece. In fact, this is what makes up most of the roundtable discussions we see on NBC, CNN, FOX and other major news networks. However, when a news source intentionally skews a fact or even purposefully leaves out some aspects of the truth, it becomes detrimental to the integrity of the media as a whole. This type of propaganda is what has driven many Americans away from some networks that have been blasted for being unreliable and not based on true fact. The media is obviously free to do whatever it wants, but excessive prejudice can lead to disillusionment among the people. We have seen the effects of this; it’s the last thing we would want.
In this sense, I guess Trump’s attack on “fake news” is perhaps a rude awakening to the media. Now, obviously, this in no way justifies his anti-press rhetoric, nor does it bolster his own credibility as a news source; however, it does provide a push for a sense of accountability in the media. Rather than just comment on the “alt-right” and its violence, left-leaning media should at the very least acknowledge similar violence from ANTIFA and the “alt-left.” It’s all right for them to have an opinion on which one is more detrimental, but it’s not fair to just report one. It’s also not fair, on the other side of the spectrum, for the right-leaning media to feel justified in only reporting on the crazy stubborn left without rightfully recognizing the equally crazy extreme on their own side.
While such a change is ideal, realistically, there is still going to be loose reporting of facts and staunch biases throughout the media. And you know what? That’s okay. After all, there is nothing more important than freedom of speech and the press. Infringing on those rights in order to “preserve media integrity” is something that time and time again has proven unsuccessful. In the end, it becomes important for American citizens to make sure they watch news from both perspectives. At least in this way, exposure to the two sides of an argument can be guaranteed. As long as one keeps an open mind, it’s ultimately up to one’s own self to determine which part of the spectrum to side with.
Adithya Sanjay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.