Walter Williams, the founder of journalism education and of the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri, created the Journalist’s Creed in 1914. It defined journalism as an independent profession that respects God and honors mankind. Journalists should be unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power. They must pay attention to detail and exercise self-control, patience, fearlessness, and constant respect for their readers. After the 1960s, however, progressivism became prevalent. Advocacy replaced objectivity. Liberalism and progressivism replaced impartiality.
In The Media Elite, author Samuel Robert Lichter wrote that reporters tend to add their own opinions and educational background to their reports on controversial issues. The majority of the people in the newsroom are liberals, which has shifted news reporting in favor of liberal politics.
In his research on the evolution of two hundred years of American journalism, Jim A. Kuypers concluded that today’s mainstream media are liberal and progressive both in their structure and in their reporting. He quoted a liberal editor of a major newspaper as saying: “Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeves. We do not tolerate other lifestyles and viewpoints. We are not hesitant to say that if you want to work here, you must be the same as us, and you must be liberal and progressive.”
In another work, Kuypers found that the mainstream media leans very much toward liberalism in the reporting of the issues, such as race, benefits reform, environmental protection, gun control, and the like.
The leftist media established its dominance in the ecology of American politics, proliferating its ideological agenda in covering the news. In a commentary piece published by The Wall Street Journal in 2001, former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg wrote, “The mainstream news anchors were so biased that they ‘don’t even know what liberal bias is.’”
Most people in the high-trust societies of the West have few doubts about the veracity of news created and broadcast by the mainstream media. Many take it for granted that reports are written objectively and comprehensively and that what is cited is serious expert analysis based on information from reliable sources. The leftist media makes use of its consumers’ trust to inculcate them with its ideological worldview.
While fake news runs rampant today, this is a rather unusual phenomenon. The free societies of the West have traditionally emphasized the need for a truthful, objective, and fair media. Thus, the left-wing media does not generally spread fake news to deceive the public outright. Its methods are more subtle and elaborate, as described below.
Selective Coverage. Every day, tens of thousands of newsworthy events occur around the world. But which events receive attention or quietly fade from public attention are almost completely determined by what the media chooses to cover.
Contemporary media wields great power. Due to considerable left-wing influence among many media organizations and personnel, many progressive ideas, such as so-called social justice and equality and feminism have become mainstream, while the crimes of communism have been whitewashed. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich once said, “The academic left and its news media and Hollywood acolytes refuse to confront the horrifying record of Marxism’s endless inhumanity.”
Selective coverage can be divided into three categories. First, events are selected only or primarily for their utility in helping readers accept the ideological stand of the Left. Second, instead of reporting comprehensively on the event’s context, they report only the aspects that support the leftist point of view. Lastly, the media tends to give greater voice to those who lean left or whose statements agree with the Left, while other organizations and individuals are sidelined.
In A Measure of Media Bias, Tim Groseclose wrote, “For every sin of commission, … we believe that there are hundreds, and maybe thousands, of sins of omission—cases where a journalist chose facts or stories that only one side of the political spectrum is likely to mention.”
Agenda-Setting. In the 1960s, media researchers came up with the influential theory that the media’s function is to determine which topics are suitable for discussion. Bernard Cohn articulated this well: The press “may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” That is to say, the press can determine the importance of events by the number of reports and follow-up reports that an event receives, while equally or more important issues can be dealt with more summarily or not at all.
The issue of transgender rights, though it concerns only a very small portion of the population, has become a focal point of discussion and is an example of media successfully setting the agenda. In addition, global warming becoming an important issue in public discourse is the result of a long-term conspiracy between the media and other political forces.
Framing. There are many issues that are too big to ignore. The media uses the method of framing to set the narrative. The sex liberation movement and the state welfare of the 1960s resulted in the disintegration of the family, worsened poverty, and increased crime. However, leftists use the media and Hollywood to depict an image of the strong and independent single mother, hiding the real social issues behind this phenomenon. Some criticize “white supremacy” and attribute the poor financial and social status of minorities to systemic discrimination. The prevalence of such narratives is largely the result of collusion between the media and certain political forces.
The method of framing is seen mainly in the phenomenon of stories preceding facts. In objective reporting, the writer summarizes the facts into a story. But reporters and editors often hold prejudiced opinions on an issue, and when creating reports, massage the facts to fit the story that validates their own biases.
Using Political Correctness to Enforce Self-Censorship. Political correctness permeates the media. Whether written in the style guide or left implicit, many media outlets have policies of political correctness that affect what may or may not be reported and how it is reported. Because of legislation on “hate crimes” in some European countries, many local media outlets dare not report on crimes committed by immigrants, even though such crimes have become a severe social issue and are threatening the domestic security in these countries. American media organizations also self-censor when it comes to reporting crimes, often omitting the perpetrators’ immigration status.
Labeling Conservative Sources to Neutralize Their Influence. In order to create the impression of balanced reporting, the liberal media has no choice but to report on the opinions of conservatives or conservative think tanks. But the media typically uses labels like “conservative,” “right-wing,” or “religious right-wing” when quoting these sources, subtly implying that their opinions are prejudiced or not trustworthy for the simple fact that they are conservatives. When quoting from liberals or liberal think tanks, the media usually uses neutral titles such as “scholar” or “expert,” suggesting that these opinions are impartial, objective, rational, and trustworthy.
Creating a Lexicon of Political Correctness. The Western media, along with leftist political groups and academia, has created a vast system of politically correct language. It has been applied so frequently by the media that the language has become deeply rooted in the public consciousness, influencing the public on a subliminal level.
Once the media validates a left-wing opinion, it manifests in all aspects of society. An October 2008 report by The New York Times titled “Liberal Views Dominate Footlights” begins with the sentence, “During this election season theatergoers in New York can see a dozen or so overtly political plays, about Iraq, Washington corruption, feminism or immigration; what they won’t see are any with a conservative perspective.”
The media’s political colors are also reflected in its coverage of the democratic process. Liberal candidates are reported positively, while candidates who espouse traditional views receive more criticism. Such reports and “expert” analysis have great influence over the voting population. Groseclose discovered that 93 percent of reporters in Washington, D.C., voted for Democrats; only 7 percent voted for Republicans. According to Groseclose’s calculation, media bias aids Democratic candidates by about 8 to 10 percentage points in a typical election. For instance, if that media bias didn’t exist, John McCain would have defeated Barack Obama 56 percent to 42 percent, instead of losing 53 to 46.
From Chapter Thirteen: Hijacking the Media