Does Media Bias Exist?

Elite Media is defined as reporting of news and political events in as narrow a focus as possible, presumably to influence the political agenda of other mass media. The Elite Media presents biased information that is tweaked to garner ratings and can be defined as sensational, manipulative or provocative. Mass media may be defined by the technology in which it is conveyed. Some examples are internet (web pages, internet sites, and blogs), television, print media (newspapers, magazines), radio shows, music, film and billboard. Mass media is just another way of saying “mainstream media”, which is defined by point-of-view and content. Mass media uses technology at hand to convey its message quickly as well as in a deeply penetrating way. It is quick, decisive and relentless in its broad effect and connection to a large amount of people.

Both Elite and Mass Media cover stories that are considered newsworthy due to their relevancy to the public (Mass Media) or to a special audience (Elite Media). Of special consideration the emphasis on “gossip” and “celebrity news” tends to distance any audience from political and local news issues and helps to dilute the social and moral impact of news on the population. The selling of advertising for companies and products has driven the Media into a nearly trillion dollar industry. In our society competition for news, air time and advertising has reached a frenzied peak. News reporting in the United States has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Two examples of Elite Media networks in the U.S. are the Fox News Chanel and MSNBC. Both take on their own sides and present the news in a way that might be considered by some to be one-sided or biased. Programs from both networks were analyzed in order to see the differences in reporting styles and political viewpoints of both networks.

The programs that were analyzed were on Fox News were America’s New Headquarters and the Fox Report, as originally broadcasted on October 26, 2013. Topics discussed included the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, the protests in Washington DC regarding the allegations that the NSA engaged in spying on world leaders, and the recent ban on women from driving and Saudi Arabia. The programs analyzed from MSNBC were Politics Nation and Hardball with Chris Matthews, as broadcasted on October 28, 2013. Some of the topics discussed on both shows were the efforts of Senator Ted Cruz to derail the Affordable Care Act, the fact that the anti-abortion law passed by the Texas state legislature in June 2013 was blocked by a federal judge, the fact that there is still a great deal of controversy regarding the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya in September of 2012, and the differences in the campaign styles of Republican gubernatorial candidates such as Chris Christie in New Jersey and Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia.

Overall, both news sources exhibited several instances of bias. For example, the hosts of Fox News tended to ask Democratic commentator more difficult questions than the Republican commentators and tended to portray the Affordable Care Act in a more negative way by highlighting its potential problems. Additionally, MSNBC expressed bias by having the hosts of its programming only interviewing more liberal pundits and by its hosts expressing openly-liberal viewpoints. Additionally, the topics discussed on the Fox News programming was presented in a reltively straightforward and superficial manner, whereas the topics discussed on MSNBC were preseted in a more in depth and detailed manner.

To sum it up, the two methods of media reporting in the U.S. served to highlight the way that reporting influences cultural, political and sociological beliefs systems. Furthermore, an analysis of specific news programs on different networks and news events reported on in different styles helps us to understand the way that people perceived politics based on those reporting styles.

the author

Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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