A new study out is showing what anyone who has been alive for more than five minutes was already well aware of, that cable news networks are biased, and that bias has grown much more pronounced in the last ten years especially after the election of Donald Trump.
The study, just published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” is called, “Measuring Dynamic Media Bias.” The level of network bias was based on guest appearances.
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How The Study Was Conducted
Researchers took a look at who came on networks like the Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, as guests for more than 10 hours between January of 2010, and August of 2020. Those guests were rated on a bias scale which was based on their political views.
The bias scale, dubbed “visibility bias” by researchers, showed what has been apparent to most Americans for years. Fox News was more right leaning, and CNN and MSNBC were more left leaning. However, this visibility bias also determined, based on the guest list, that CNN programs like “Anderson Cooper 360,” and “CNN Tonight,” were even more liberal than MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Those conducting the study noticed what they believed to be an interesting detail. While Fox News has always been more conservative than either CNN or MSNBC, at one point during the time period being studied, CNN seemed a tad more conservative than MSNBC. After 2015 though, the researchers say that changed.
While each network catered to either a more conservative or liberal audience, the ideological bent of all three networks became more definitive in 2016.
Yphtach Lelkes is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, and one of the co-authors of the study. He explained, “For many years, Fox News was to the right of MSNBC and CNN, but they used to track each other. When Fox moved to the right, so did MSNBC and CNN. They all flowed together. After Trump came into office, they responded to events in the news by leaning away from each other and more strongly toward their respective ideologies.”
The Big Disconnect
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What is also becoming more pronounced is the disconnect between those who report the news, and the average viewer who is watching them. The Political Insider reported back in June that a Pew Research Center poll found that 65% of journalists believe they are doing a good and accurate job of reporting news.
That is not what a large portion of the American people think. Only 35% said journalists were actually doing their job the right way. Of the five different areas of journalistic integrity the poll surveyed, journalists gave their overall performances a thumbs up. The reading, listening, and viewing public on the other hand, gave them a hearty thumbs down.
Back in April, during a Q&A session at a University of Chicago forum entitled, “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy,” CNN’s Brian Stelter was part of a panel to whom students posed questions.
It was college freshmen Christopher Phillips who gave those who heard his question to Stelter, hope for future generations. He addressed Stelter’s implication that Fox News was the sole purveyor of misinformation and listed a series of, what turned out to be false stories, that were pushed by CNN. Phillips then asked the money question.
“All the mistakes of the mainstream media, in particular, seem to magically all go in one direction,” Phillips stated. “Are we expected to believe that this is all just some sort of random coincidence or is there something else behind it?”
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Death Of Journalism?
For many viewers of cable news, Professor Lelkes and his colleagues have only verified what they have long know to be true. In fact, they have the date— 2016.
It was then New York media columnist Jim Rutenberg, who stated that when covering then candidate Donald Trump, his fellow journalists were essentially justified in breaking every journalistic rule of objectivity they had been taught. The reason why, because Trump was a Republican, and therefore, the enemy.
Even now, names like Joy Reid, Lester Holt, and Don Lemon have said things such as conservatives and Republicans being a threat to freedom, fairness is overrated, and that, “Republicans are doing something that is very dangerous to our society and we have to acknowledge that.”
This study may be attempting to blame Donald Trump and the 2016 election for more obvious bias among cable news networks, but average Americans who knew it was there all along are thanking Trump for verifying it.
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