Media bias has been a major factor in American journalism since the country’s inception. From the highly politicized newspapers and pamphlets in the time of the Revolution to the yellow journalism that led the U.S. into the Spanish-American war to the current anti-Trump narrative, political bias has always been an integral piece of the nation’s news reporting. While bias has always existed in journalism, it has become a subject of intense debate in the Trump era.
When they elected President Donald Trump in 2016, conservatives began a modern-day revolt against the leftist cultural hegemony over American society. The blatant media bias was one of the right’s most significant sticking points — they lived through the constant attacks on President George W. Bush, the constant refusal to report negative stories about President Barack Obama, and their anti-Republican bias against John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Given the media’s constant attacks on conservatism, it should have come as no surprise that right-leaning Americans cast their votes for Trump. In 2016, conservatives were fed up, and they latched onto one of the few GOP politicians that were willing to strike back against the left-leaning media, who had an unspoken policy of demonizing right-leaning Americans and their leaders. While media bias has always existed in America, it is the recent history that has brought about the current animus towards the press, and it seems that this anger is unlikely to abate anytime soon.
a History of Biased Reporting
The notion of an unbiased press has not always existed in American society. Indeed, it is a relatively new concept that originated in the 20th century. Journalists like Walter Lippmann argued that reporting should be objective and devoid of excessive bias. Journalists began to believe that their reportage should be factual, rather than colored by the reporter’s opinion. The idea was to inform their readers, not to influence them.
Lippman asserted that a reporter should “remain clear and free of his irrational, his unexamined, his unacknowledged prejudgments in observing, understanding, and presenting the news.” In this way, he posited that the press should adopt a “common intellectual method and a common area of valid fact.”
Unfortunately, the Fourth Estate has not held to the standards put forth by Lippmann and others. Now, they seek to sway the opinions of the American public instead of ensuring that the average citizen is aware of the facts of a given story. They have become nothing more than political activists disguised as journalists.
In the last 20 years, the media has grown more brazen in their efforts to promote left-wing ideas, and it is this abandonment of objectivity that has led to the current conservative revolt. There are numerous examples demonstrating how the establishment media has sacrificed its objectivity in favor of pushing a political agenda.
Attacks on Tea Party
In the late 2000s, the conservative Tea Party movement took the political world by storm. They advocated for lower taxes, lowering America’s national debt, reducing government spending, and a host of other conservative ideas. Members of the Tea Party loudly expressed their outrage against the Democratic Party, but they directed most of their vitriol against the Republican establishment, which they felt had abandoned the core tenets of conservatism. They managed to elect a significant number of conservative politicians through their activism.
Sensing a new threat, the establishment media went after the Tea Party with enthusiasm. They launched a campaign designed to label Tea Partiers as bigoted rednecks who dislike brown people. They Left-leaning blog Politico ran a piece accusing the Tea Party of using terrorist tactics — likening them to the Taliban. Joe Klein wrote an article for Time Magazine that compared the group to Osama Bin Laden.
Ezra Klein’s JournoList
In 2008, The Daily Caller revealed the existence of an online community of reporters, academics, and activists created by journalist Ezra Klein that exposed the left-leaning bias of the press. The online forum, named “JournoList,” included a number of reporters who brainstormed the talking points and tactics they would use to cast then-presidential candidate Obama in a favorable light. These reporters worked for Newsweek, Bloomberg, The Economist, Time Magazine, Politico, The Huffington Post, and other news outlets.
The reporters who participated in the discussion outlined how they would cover the Obama campaign and how they would handle its conservative critics. They also explored how they would attack Obama’s opponents John McCain and Sarah Palin.
In one exchange, The Washington Post’s Spencer Ackerman suggested that reporters deflect attention away from Obama’s association with racist Pastor Jeremiah Wright by using the all-too-familiar race-baiting tactics of the left. “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote:
“If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them—Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares—and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes them sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”
CNN Attacks Newt Gingrich During 2012 Primary Debate
One of the more memorable examples of media bias occurred in 2012 during the Republican presidential primary debate. This incident is notable because it was a situation in which a GOP politician actually struck back at the press.
CNN’s John King, the moderator of the debate, started the proceedings by asking former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about a story involving the candidate’s ex-wife and their divorce. He brought up allegations that the former lawmaker asked his then-wife for an open marriage.
Instead of taking the bait, Gingrich became incensed. “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office,” he shot back. “And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.” He went on to say that he was “frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.” Gingrich received a standing ovation for his retort.
Conservatives Push Back
The reality is that the left dominates the United States’ establishment media outlets. Only 7% of journalists identify as Republicans. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of the stories reported about the Trump administration are negative.
It is clear that the American press is no longer a source for information — it has become a left-wing propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. Many journalists have expressed surprise at the enmity being directed at them from Trump supporters. News outlets have indicated that Trump’s pugnacious approach to the media is inspiring enmity among his supporters. But the truth is that conservatives have resented the media for decades. The only difference is that now, right-leaning Americans have a politician who will push back against their attacks.
Studies have shown that the American public does not trust the press as they have in the past. But it’s not because of Trump — it is because of the behavior of our journalists. In short, the press made this bed, and now they have to lie in it.