Media Bias 101: How the MSM actively works to influence the debate

MediaI’ve been blogging since since the summer of 2003 (even though I celebrate my anniversary in October because early Oct. 2003 is when I started regularly blogging), and the primary reason I got started at this was due to outrage at what I saw was extreme liberal bias from so-called “mainstream media” news outlets – news outlets that were supposed to be reporting news stories from a neutral perspective, rather than an opinionated perspective. Having been a former liberal myself who was greatly influenced by what I watched on the evening news and read in the local papers, I had long been well-aware of how liberal bias permeated the mainstream media information newsways (broadcast/print/online) and how that translated into the formation of opinions in the minds of your average American.

Prior to this blog, my musings against liberal bias had been confined to conversations with the few (at the time) conservative friends I had, and political message boards. However, the mainstream media hysteria in September 2003 surrounding the Rush Limbaugh/ESPN/Donovan McNabb “race comments controversy” pushed me to start blogging on a regular basis about, among other things, liberal media bias and how it was continuing to dangerously infect our opinion-forming process.

Liberal media bias is something that has been denied for years by liberal pundits and politicos who, hilariously, have countered that in reality there is a “conservative media bias.” Usually, they’ll point to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News – as if to suggest that either make up for the reliably liberal ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, NYT, AP, etc etc news outlets who, more or less, spout talking points you could just as easily hear coming from a liberal pundit or politician on a routine basis. They do this in spite of the fact that the conservative complaint about liberal media bias is not as it relates to the liberal opinion media, because pundit bias is to be expected as part of the job of a pundit, commentator, etc. Instead, the complaints are about the liberal bias coming from mainstream journalists who are supposed to be reporting the news objectively, but who instead so often put slants on their reporting which clearly reflects a bias for or against whatever is being “reported.” In other words, liberal complaints about “conservative media bias” don’t really hold any water, because – outside of Fox News – their only other fall back is to point to Rush and other conservative pundits and commentators … people who are supposed to be conservatively biased.

Head in SandHaving said that, for any liberal out there who still – to this day – does not believe there is a strong liberal bias in the mainstream press that has dated back decades, click here and read the numerous links contained within. When established journalists, left wing commentators, and others affiliated with mainstream media outlets come out of the woodwork to admit that, yes, there is an overwhelmingly left wing tilt to the MSM – and when MSM political contributions show an unmistakable left wing slant, any assertions to the contrary by the “Usual Suspects™” carry that distinct and pungent “don’t confuse me with the facts” odor that we’ve come to know and be wary of when it comes to liberal claims and denials.

What got me to writing this was reading a puff-piece in the very liberally biased McClatchy-affiliated Charlotte Observer on college-aged illegal immigrants in this state who came here at a very early age (brought here, presumably, by their parents) and have been here illegally ever since. The purpose of my referencing this piece is not to debate the pros or cons or the rightness or wrongness of the “DREAM Act” but instead to point out the Observer’s one-sided, emotion-based reporting on the issue.

Written by Observer reporter Franco Ordoñez, here’s how it starts (bolded emphasis added by me):

A 22-year-old Central Piedmont Community College student facing deportation has placed his future in the hands of a group of his peers – also young, also here illegally.

Erick Velazquillo says they’re his last hope to stay in the country that’s been his home since he was 2.

Velazquillo, who graduated from South Mecklenburg High, was arrested in October. The charges: failing to dim his headlights and driving without a valid license. He is now in the process of being deported.

On July 19, he’ll ask an immigration judge and federal prosecutors to not send him back to Mexico.

He said two Latino organizations and several lawyers advised him not to fight for fear he would receive greater immigration penalties.

Instead, he turned to a statewide group of young activists, known as the “N.C. Dream Team.”

The Raleigh-based group, whose slogan is “Undocumented and Unafraid,” thinks it can help. Velazquillo’s case is their first Charlotte initiative.

Inspired by the Civil Rights movement, the Dream Team is part of a national push by young people to the front of immigration reform.

They’ve confronted legislators, launched hunger strikes, and even announced their illegal status to draw attention to their demands.

They are calling for passage of “the Dream Act,” a legal change that would make it easier for young people to become U.S. citizens if they attend college or join the military.

And they say they are fed up with established Latino advocates whom they accuse of botching earlier bipartisan support for the act.

“We’ve had enough,” said N.C. Dream Team co-founder Viridiana Martinez of Sanford. “We know we’re taking risks, facing arrest every time we come out. But we have to speak out for ourselves. Because if we don’t do it, someone else is going to do it. And that has gotten us nowhere.”

The group formed last summer during a 13-day hunger strike in Raleigh to draw attention to the Dream Act. The name stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.

Velazquillo learned of the group through his sister, Angelica. She attended the Dream Team’s “coming out” rally in March, and shared her brother’s story with the members.

The Dream Team plans to broadcast Velazquillo’s appeal to their 1,100 N.C. supporters. But as many as 10,000 people are likely to learn about Velazquillo through the group’s affiliated networks nationwide.

Erick Velazquillo, who is studying to be a nutritionist, said he’s never been back to Mexico.

“It is scary,” he said. “The only people I know over there are my grandmother who is 72 and my grandfather who is 74. … What am I going to do?”

What do we learn based solely on the Observer’s reporting? We have a college-aged illegal immigrant who has been here since he was 2 years old. Translation: He had no choice but to be here. We also learn that he’s got goals – he’s studying to be a nutritionist, and that he’s only been arrested for a minor traffic violation. He knows next to nothing about Mexico, outside of his elderly grandparents. The team acting on his behalf, “The NC Dream Team” was “inspired” by the Civil Rights movement. Translation from all this: This ambitious young man’s only crimes are that he has been here illegally since he was two and he was arrested on a harmless traffic violation. The group helping him out was inspired by Civil Rights activists who were fighting for the same rights white people had. What nobler cause can there be in life?

The article continues on in the same vein – we learn that some of the group’s allies are “American-born” and believe that you can’t just sit by when deportation is happening to your friends. Translation: “Young illegal immigrants are supported by respectable legal American citizens who have made lives for themselves here in the US and who can’t stand the thought of harmless people being deported.” Heroes, right?

This is the tone and tenor throughout the Observer piece. What do you not get out of the piece? The opposing view. The reasons why people don’t support the DREAM Act. Why people oppose illegal immigration in general. All we know is that we have harmless young college-aged kids who are getting their education just like a legal American citizen would, who had no choice in being brought here, who just want to live their lives and who shouldn’t be fearful to exclaim that they are here illegally. This is, unfortunately, how a lot of mainstream media articles on the issue of illegal immigration are written. They go something like this:

Hey, most illegals who are here just want to work and raise their families and live happy lives like those who are here legally, right? On that basis, why the rush by conservatives to push for more effective border control and enforcement of existing illegal immigrant laws? Why not support “reform” over enforcement of existing laws? Why are opponents of “reform” so irrational? Is there a racial angle here worth exploring?

This is lazy, knee-jerk, emotion-based, one-sided reporting at its most obvious, its most blatant – and it happens all the time.

For people who aren’t buying my argument, look at it this way: Think back to any number of child abductions, rapes, and/or murder stories that have been reported by your local and national mainstream media outlets. The overwhelming bias on those stories is obvious and understandable: The journalists can’t hold back their opinions on wanting to find the perps and bring them to justice. 98% of the people who read and watch those stories hold the same opinions: How awful is it to have that happen to a child? That poor family must be going through hell. The perp must be caught and punished to the full extent of the law. Feelings on issues like these are universal amongst us all so we don’t get upset at the bias shown in these news stories. But the problem is that the bias is not cut off beyond the human interest stories that have a clear, universal “good side” angle and “bad side” angle. The same type of bias also appears in reporting of social and political issues that impact us all in some way or another. We all see the bias that exists in human interest stories and it’s silly to suggest that our internal biases can just be “turned off”, so it’s baffling that anyone – liberals in particular – would still think they could credibly deny the liberal bias that exists in other stories where the “good side” angle and “bad side” angle aren’t so clearly defined, like the one about young illegals that I mentioned above. The liberal bias, in concert with the sensationalism that has gotten so popular in the MSM, can and has and will continue to influence the public debate and not always in a way that is favorable to conservative causes.

Insta-newsThis is why we as conservatives so often face uphill battles. Busy people with hectic lives and, for that matter, people who aren’t particularly interested in diving in deeper into any given issue, read the insta-news and quickie headlines on their cellphones and laptops and that’s the extent of their research. Ideally, what we’d get is mainstream media reporting that doesn’t have any angle on it other than just a simple reporting of the facts – free from spin, while letting the reader draw their own conclusions. Unfortunately, I’m afraid, those days are long gone. Fortunately with the rise of blogs over the last decade-plus the tide is turning for people who want to get the other side of the story rather than just the mainstream media version, but we still have a long way to go to counter the inherent liberal media bias that we encounter no matter where we go.

Just some food for thought as you go into this July 4th holiday weekend.

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