We the People have been told that the most effective weapon against tyranny is a well-informed electorate. That is true, but the problem rarely discussed today is that a majority of people believe themselves to be fully informed; more often than not they are only aware of facts provided by those with whom they most tend to agree. Being honest with ourselves, most of us rarely research issues, even those we find most controversial. We rarely watch, listen, or read political information by sources we know mostly offer views with which we politically disagree. We do not enjoy hearing opposition arguments, even when they are well-researched and are provided by reputable resources.
This lack of knowing all the facts, some of which is essential to fully understand an issue, is unfortunate and unproductive. Too often we end up sharing false information, even arguing over issues when we have not attempted to examine critical facts that could change our perspective. Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all guilty.
While the issue is not new, it appears to be more blatant and frequent today; perhaps this is due to President Trump’s war with the media. In relationship to one’s political views this “war” is viewed quite differently. Those who have purposed to watch both FOX and CNN have witnessed subtle as well as overtly blatant ways specific political issues can be reported quite differently — especially if President Trump is in any way involved.
A recent example of opposition reporting is how various media sources defined the caravan of individuals (mostly men) from Central American countries marching through Mexico. Now waiting on the Mexican side of our southern border these foreigners are demanding access with unverifiable claims. Accusations have been made stating those waiting at the border have been coached to state the exact words which will help them enter our country. Proof or verification of their story is not being required.
Evaluating news sources
Whom do we believe when there are differing reports on important issues? Which sources do you trust most for accurate reporting? Attention is required to be able to embrace only that which is verifiable, because these decisions ultimately impact us and/or our families.
Are we able to place trust in media sources to provide accurate information? Most sources do their best to provide the public with verifiable facts, but it is also true that many sources are biased, especially regarding political issues. While understandable, it is nevertheless the duty of reporters to provide facts and not conjecture or opinions. The public should be advised whenever the information is conjecture and not verified. We expect those who report the news to be as fair and balanced as possible. Unfortunately, too many media sources no longer even try to be fair and balanced. This is likely because they rarely experience a severe reprimand or negative result for doing so.
Given today’s extreme differences in reporting styles, as well as their divisive sources for information, we can easily identify whether a source leans to the Left or to the Right. It is not rare for critical information to be either inadvertently or purposely left out, depending upon the political leaning of a specific media source. This is unfortunate because a large segment of our population can be deprived of critical information and thus view a subject or person incorrectly.
Proving the bias of a specific source is not difficult. It can be quickly identified by how it approaches and reports a controversial issue. Did it fairly represent both viewpoints, or did it try to persuade its audience to a specific view based on the information that had been provided. It is important to choose our sources wisely. If or when we see blatant bias, it is perhaps time to change channels, read different news sources, and/or talk to people with more diverse viewpoints. Only then can we have enough information to discern the difference and what we find the more logical and useful choice. You may discover times when the reporting is so biased, you might wonder if the source is even reporting about the issue at hand. Unfortunately, it is rare for news sources to correct reporting mistakes when additional information has proven the report to be incorrect.
Trump and fake news
President Trump has provided the public examples of what he considers “fake news,” dating back to the way media sources judged and reported attendance numbers on Inauguration Day. The media showed pictures of low attendance. Some media sources claimed it was the least watched inauguration in many years. What the media conveniently failed to mention is that the weather was bad … it was drizzling if not raining in D.C., causing many to stay home and watch the event on television.
Akamai Technologies, a delivery network for most major new sources, reported that Trump’s inauguration was the largest single live news event the company had ever delivered. A record 4.6 million people watched Trump’s inauguration from the comfort of their homes. Akamai was just one of several networks filming and sending “feed” of the event. Media sources failed to provide these facts; many believe that deliberate omission signaled the beginning of the war that now exists between the media and our president.
The negative inauguration remarks by the media expanded to include Donald Trump, Jr. and other Trump White House choices to serve in his administration. It was rare to see any favorable media comments or stories about our new president or his cabinet choices. Even when a negative story was proven to be incorrect, the media often refused to print a retraction of incorrect information or insert essential facts missing from their initial report. In complete contrast, these same media sources adored Obama and found ways to excuse even his most grievous mistakes.
Why did mainstream media sources take such a different tactic with President Trump and his staff? Some claim President Trump started this negativity. Others attest it was the media who from the very beginning maligned Trump, while they promoted and supported his opponents. However, the public and our nation remain the victims, no matter who started it or what the initial cause. The world watched as this war raged on. It has not ended yet.
It was therefore no surprise when Trump began to refer to the media as “fake news.” Almost, without exception, the media responded by reporting anything and everything possible to malign President Trump. This ongoing, almost daily battle has continued, and at times escalated to a degree that is detrimental to our nation. The World watches and wonders how our problems might become their assets.
Demise of fair and balanced media
Compare the difference in how this same media treated former President Barack Obama. It minimized, excused, and/or even failed to report many of his most blatant errors of judgment. The following are some of the more serious problems the White House managed to keep out of the public eye during his presidency. Any other president, and most certainly President Trump, have received far more intensive scrutiny. When the media was forced to report a problem during the Obama years, it tended to blame the problem on something or someone other than President Barack Obama.
The following are examples of serious problems during the Obama presidency, which the media minimized as much as possible.
- The deep recession and the economy’s rebound under Obama registered the worst in seven decades. The annual GDP growth averaged a feeble 2.1 percent, by far the puniest economic performance of any president since World War II. Although Obama spent more public funds on “stimulus” than all previous stimulus programs combined, millions of Americans fell below the poverty line and caused the number of public “stamp” recipients to skyrocket. Yet, the media applauded Obama whenever possible and minimized his failures, often finding others to blame when needed.
- The national debt increased to a whopping $20 trillion. The Pew Research Center reported young adults (18- to 34-year-olds) living in their parents’ homes had also jumped to the highest since the Great Depression. Even former president and fellow Democrat Bill Clinton flinched after Obama claimed he had created a great recovery in a State of the Union address. Bill said: “and they (referring to those Obama said had recovered) cannot find themselves (in that recovery) to save their lives.”
- Both Obama and Hillary were complicit in the cover up of the tragedy in Benghazi that cost the lives of our Ambassador and a few great American military men who tried to save Ambassador Stevens’ life and the embassy from destruction.
- Not particularly effective with anything military, Obama also made mistakes by allowing guns to be purchased by foreign agents. The purpose was to follow the guns which would lead to the leaders using them against our Country. The effort tragically failed when they lost track of the men and guns. A resultant tragedy was that one of those guns was used to kill a border agent.
- He traded Private Bowie Bergdahl for some of the most dangerous foreign captives we had incarcerated at Guantanamo. The fallout from that may never be fully disclosed.
- Obama and his staff aggressively pushed his plan for what we now call Obamacare. At least 27 million Americans are still without health insurance and many of those insured have been added to the Medicaid rolls. Worst of all, Obamacare caused insurance rates to skyrocket and insurance providers to go out of business. The administration, it transpired, knew all along that millions of Americans would lose their medical plans once the law took effect. The deception was so egregious that in December 2013, PolitiFact dubbed the advertisement logo and Obama’s promise “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” as its “Lie of the Year.”
- In Obama’s rush to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, he created a power vacuum into which terror networks expanded and the Taliban revived. This inspired scores of lethal terrorist attacks in the West. Obama claimed that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad could be induced to “reform” and thus he refused to allow any American intervention. The result was an uprising that metastasized into genocidal slaughter. Assad deployed chemical weapons which resulted in a Syrian death toll of hundreds of thousands, as well as a flood of refugees greater than any the world had seen since the 1940’s. Other countries did their best to absorb these displaced people, which in some cases caused their own people harm.
- According to Gallup, a source not known for partisan reporting, stated that Obama became the most polarizing president in modern history. In Obama’s own words, his political strategy was one of ruthless escalation: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” During his 2012 reelection campaign, Politico reported that “Obama and his top campaign aides engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults than the Romney campaign.” Yet, the opposite was more often reported.
- When a Republican-led Congress wouldn’t enact legislation he sought, Obama turned to his “pen and phone” strategy. Obama thus began governing by “diktat” which polarized politics and alienated patriots. Regardless of this rare dictate, the mainstream media rarely exposed or expressed any serious negative outcry. Obama enjoyed the protection of the press rather than scrutiny.
This ongoing, almost daily battle has continued, and at times has escalated to a degree that is detrimental to our nation. The world watches and wonders how our problems might become their assets.