So when I read this, it struck a chord, and reminded me of a column I wrote a few years ago for the Diamondback, the independent student newspaper at the University of Maryland. So here it is.
Every day, we are bombarded with news from television, newspapers, magazines and the like, all telling us what they profess "the truth". But, can we trust them?
Despite what we all would like to think, the news media do not necessarily present the truth. In fact, most news sources have some sort of bias.
Everyone has heard about the "liberal bias" of the media, and while this is only partly true, it does hold some merit. No news source is entirely without pressure to lean in one direction, whether it is pressure from advertisers, owners or other sources.
Take a look at the two major papers in the Washington, D.C. area, The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Pick any day of the week, and find the same event covered in both. The differences you'll find are surprising.
The Post is much more liberal, and leans towards the Democrats. The Times, on the other hand, because it is quite conservative, leans much more conservatively, towards the Republicans.
Why? Because both papers are kept running by one thing: money. Money that can tell reporters how to view a situation. Money that tells editors how to hire those reporters. Money that tells everyone what stories, and what angles, are the best interest of the wallets of the people running the paper.
The owners of The Times, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, are very conservative and their money dictates their paper to follow suit. The Post's agenda comes more from advertising, and those companies tend to be more liberal. Advertisers like that the economy is going well, and they don't want the leadership attacked, so the public doesn't get upset. So The Post doesn't do it.
Television and radio news are biased in another way. The three major national networks, ABC, NBC and CBS, are all owned by other companies, all wishing to protect their interests.
Westinghouse owns CBS. Westinghouse supplies about 40 percent of global nuclear power through its subsidiary energy systems.
Do you think you are going to see an exposé on a nuclear plant falling apart in Russia on the CBS news? I don't. Issues get avoided all the time just because they conflict with a channel's owners.
General Electric owns NBC. Their relationship has been one of the most notorious over the years. A few years ago, the cast of Saturday Night Live, an NBC program, did a parody called "Conspiracy House Rock." In this parody, the cast made fun of GE's human rights record (which is very questionable).
When the episode went into reruns, the skit magically disappeared. Hmm, must have gone through their GE blender and garbage disposal.
A European NBC affiliate also questioned GE's human rights record on its show "Rights and Wrongs." The episode never aired. NBC affiliates felt it was not proper to run the show. Hmm, not proper in respect to their jobs, maybe.
Disney/Capital Cities own ABC. Capital Cities also owns Sid R. Bass, et al, a company that produces and processes crude petroleum and natural gas. ABC is not going to be leading the way with new stories about solar cars or houses. They are not going to talk as much about air pollution either. It just doesn't suit their interests.
Don't get me wrong. I still read the paper. But I wind up reading The Post and The Times in order to find out something more resembling the truth. I still watch television news, even if I know they are all full of it in their coverage.
Don't leave yourself in the blind. Don't think that by sitting down and watching 60 Minutes, Nightline or 20/20, you have consequently learned the truth about something.
Remember that news is a business, not a service. Even non-profit "Indy Media" has economic concerns. News works for the advertisers and owners, not just for the audience. News content is subject to those advertisers and owners a lot more than it depends on the audience.
If you don't believe me, pay more attention.