Left And Right Leaning Bias In The Media

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Bias is something that pervades the content of almost every single media outlet even if at first it is not apparent. The modality of bias can range from outright lies, to a more moderate withholding of information about a topic, to the subtle use of umbrella terms, to the pesky and easily missed snuck premise- a logical fallacy in which the person making an argument uses a tweaked definition of the word in order to make their argument appear stronger (Charisma on Command, 1). Although many conservatives and liberals argue that the media is biased for the other side, it is really helpful to delve into how each side of the aisle can use some of these techniques to attempt to distort your world view. Spotting the more subtle fallacies in someone’s writing or real-time speech is more difficult, but most of the time people will attempt to use more overt methods.

The easiest bias to spot in the media are the blatant lies, which are often based off of umbrella terms. A great recent example of this is the claim made earlier last year by the special interest group, Everytown for Gun Safety, that eighteen school shootings happened in the first forty-five days of 2018 (Aiello). To everyone in the country, when you hear there was a school shooting, you think that people have been killed, or at least an armed assailant attempted to kill people. One does not imagine that a school resource officer accidentally discharged his firearm in the parking lot or a student committed suicide by firearm just off of campus. Nonetheless, Everytown for Gun Safety used the term “School Shooting” to mean any type of firearm discharge, intentional or accidental, that was within a certain distance from a school. This claim propagated through liberal media unchecked, such as the cited article by NBC, in which they eventually retracted to seventeen and clarified the definition they were using, after being called out by centrists, moderates, and pro-gun groups. The Washington Post, a Seattle based liberal newspaper, scurrying to help regain liberal journalistic integrity on the topic later published an article directly shutting down the claim (Cox). In this instance, even politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Bill de Blasio re-tweeted, and never deleted or clarified, the complete and utterly fake news (Greenfield). This is a great example of how the left wants to hear what they want to hear, and people do not really care about the facts as much as how a completely unchecked claim might help forward their narrative. This is quite exacerbated by the fact that most fact-checking websites, such as Snopes or Politifact lean left. In this instance, Snopes never even rated this blatant lie (they posted a more explanatory article about it, which somewhat defended the statement) and Politifact rated it mostly untrue instead of the much-deserved and oft dished-out-to-conservatives “Pants on Fire” rating.

Another great example of liberal bias is the recent government shutdown. As a libertarian it is really easy to see the similarities between the government shutdown in 2012 and the most recent, in 2019. In the only other major shutdown in modern times, at the time called the fiscal cliff, Barack Obama refused to sign a CR (Continuing Resolution) that would fund the government unless include funding for Obamacare as well as letting Bush-era payroll and income tax cuts expire. The primary cause of both shutdowns to the unbiased eye is most certainly the use by Congress of continuing resolutions as the flagship method of funding the government (instead of a fixed budget, that would go on by default but not shut the government down). Using a continuing resolution causes the government to shut down any year that an agreement is not reached, and became the flagship method of funding the government bipartisanly, but in liberal media, the republican-majority congress, headed by John Boehner, was intensely vilified on CNN (Calmes) (Sahadi). Even though the republican congress was heavily blamed for the 2012 shutdown, liberals who would point the finger at congress for the 2019 shutdown are currently nowhere to be found. The republican president has been constantly portrayed in the mainstream center-left media as what is essentially the sole cause for the shutdown, such as in this article by CNN (Vasquez). This is a great example of liberal bias, as even though it takes a lack of bipartisanship for a shutdown to happen, it always seems to be the republican party’s fault when the government shuts down. Even with this said, conservatives and their news outlets are nowhere near being devoid of bias themselves.

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Looking on the other side of the aisle, conservative media outlets also often use bias, such as logical fallacies and lies to push their agenda. There are numerous examples of extreme right-wing bias every year, but in my opinion the most recent extreme case of this was the attempted character assassination of Dr. Christine Ford by the right wing media. Even before she testified before congress, conservative media outlets already knew how they were going to spin this. They were prepared to attempt to protect Brett Kavanaugh at all costs. Articles were already claiming that she was a liar, untrustworthy, or were extreme as the Washington Times, claiming that Brett Kavanaugh was the true victim and that Dr. Christine Ford definitely was not a victim (Chumlee). This was an event I think conservatives were much more biased than liberals on, but sometimes there are events where both sides are equally biased.

A great example of a situation where both sides of the isle either omitted information, lied, or spun an event was the confrontation between Covington Catholic School student Nick Sandman and Native American Elder Nathan Phillips. This event is an example of something I and many others would call non-news. In the liberal media, people lied about Nathan Phillip’s status as a Vietnam War veteran, omitted the fact that members of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement were using racial slurs, xenophobic statements, and inflammatory rhetoric towards the children from Covington Catholic School, and chose to ignore the other kids besides Nick Sandman who were doing the “tomahawk” which I personally find to be an offensive gesture (Politi). In the conservative media, Nick Sandman was just short of being heralded as a hero (for essentially just attending a field trip), and both Nathan Phillip’s character and credibility was attacked. Both sides blew up this incident into a major story before videos from alternate angles were ever released (Gill). This is one event in recent times that I somewhat succumbed to the initial liberal media bias

In conclusion, I would argue that most of the mainstream-media content that reaches the average reader has left-leaning bias, but while left-leaning bias is common, right-leaning bias is just as if not more common and staunch among the news outlets where it is prevalent. Even in writing this essay I had to reexamine articles I thought had said one thing or another in the past, because of bias. Bias is everywhere and it is extremely important to be vigilant against its potential influences over your worldview and outlook on life.

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Left And Right Leaning Bias In The Media. (2021, September 07). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/left-and-right-leaning-bias-in-the-media/
“Left And Right Leaning Bias In The Media.” Edubirdie, 07 Sept. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/left-and-right-leaning-bias-in-the-media/
Left And Right Leaning Bias In The Media. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/left-and-right-leaning-bias-in-the-media/> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Left And Right Leaning Bias In The Media [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 07 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/left-and-right-leaning-bias-in-the-media/
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