Media Bias is a Thing NOW, Not Before the 1980s

Read this story:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/most-conservatives-dont-understand-purpose-of-journalism-says-founder-of-website-on-media-bias-231043680.html

Most conservatives don’t understand purpose of journalism, says founder of website on media bias

Jon Ward

·Senior Political Correspondent

In 2005, Matthew Sheffield launched what would become one of the preeminent conservative websites devoted to calling out liberal bias in the mainstream media.

Over the last decade, however, Sheffield — who founded NewsBusters with his brother Greg and worked there until 2014 — has come to believe that he was part of a problem, not a solution, and is now working to correct that error.

The problem, as he describes it, is that most conservatives think the purpose of journalism is to wage partisan political warfare, and that has created an ecosystem on the right where facts and truth are increasingly irrelevant.

Matthew Sheffield NewsBusters (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Matthew Sheffield via Twitter, AP)

This dynamic is at play most recently in the move by many Trump supporters to stop watching Fox News because, while it is conservative, it is not slavish enough toward the president. Instead, many Trump supporters are moving toward channels that repeat the president’s lies about a stolen election without any scrutiny or standards for fact checking.

“If you go to and look at the history of conservative media enterprises that are large scale and exist presently, every single one of them was created to propagate and propagandize for a particular political viewpoint, literally without exception,” Sheffield said in an interview on “The Long Game,” a Yahoo News podcast. “And that is not the case for just so many mainstream outlets.”

In a recent Twitter thread, Sheffield wrote that he “was part of a decades-long tradition of complaining about media elites being ‘unfair’ to conservative views.”

While Sheffield’s view on liberal bias hasn’t changed entirely, it has become more nuanced. “There is still much to that argument,” he wrote, “but eventually I saw that I was missing context.”

After Sheffield went to work at the Washington Examiner, where he was the newspaper’s first online editor, he says he realized that “U.S. conservatives do not understand the purpose of journalism.”

“I didn’t understand that journalism is supposed to portray reality,” he wrote.

The Examiner was the first place where Sheffield says he saw the kind of standards that differentiate “actual media and reporting institutions” — which may have inherent or even conscious bias — from right-wing websites for which partisan bias is the north star, the guiding principle.

“Truth for conservative journalists is anything that harms ‘the left.’ It doesn’t even have to be a fact,” he wrote. “I eventually realized that most people who run right-dominated media outlets see it as their DUTY to be unfair and to favor Republicans because doing so would somehow counteract perceived liberal bias.”

Supporters of US President Donald Trump rally in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

“Most conservative media figures have no journalism training or desire to fact-check their own side,” he added.

After his time at the Examiner, Sheffield oversaw the polling operation at The Hill newspaper and has also been a staff reporter for Salon.

Sheffield is writing a memoir about his upbringing in a fundamentalist Mormon family. He was born in Utah, one of 10 children, and his father “had a street ministry where he passed out religious pamphlets and played his guitar.”

He now considers himself an “atheist agnostic” who believes that “all religions are demonstrably false, but I don’t think that you can definitively prove that there are no gods of any kind.”

NewsBusters, meanwhile, remains a robust presence online. It is owned and operated by Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center, a right-wing media group.

Sheffield believes that much of the mainstream press doesn’t write empathetically enough about most conservative voters.

“The tens of millions of people who vote Republican are not deplorable. They are misled,” he wrote. “And the mocking and tribalistic coverage that lefty media often engage in only makes things worse.”

He told Yahoo News that his advice for Americans of all political ideologies is to make sure they don’t retreat into an information bubble.

“If you’re not seeing what the other side has to say, then you’ll miss stuff that’s true and inconvenient. If you can’t confront information that’s inconvenient to you, then you’re not serious about the information,” he said. “Your opinions are not informed. They are ignorant. If you don’t encounter information that makes you say, ‘Huh, maybe I was wrong about that’ — if you never think that to yourself — you’re not doing it right.”

Let’s look at this story critically.

The problem, as he describes it, is that most conservatives think the purpose of journalism is to wage partisan political warfare, and that has created an ecosystem on the right where facts and truth are increasingly irrelevant.

I remember as a child hearing about how the news was censored by the government of the Soviet Union and how it had its own newspaper, “Pravda” (Russian for “Truth”) which published lies constantly to promote the ideology of Communism. I thought that was evil. It is clear now that many on the American far right are doing the same shit the Soviet Communists were with Pravda.

In a recent Twitter thread, Sheffield wrote that he “was part of a decades-long tradition of complaining about media elites being ‘unfair’ to conservative views.”

No, it’s not that the mainstream media was being unfair to anyone. It’s that YOU accepted and followed an extremist ideology that was not based on objective standards of any kind.

From my Honorable Skeptic philosophy:

I am a dedicated SKEPTIC.  I question everything I see, not taking what I am told at face value, but demanding proof, evidence, and corroborations before I accept something as true.  It does not matter what the source of a claim is,  I treat all parties the same.  When it comes to skepticism, I don’t discriminate politically or religiously! I doubt everything!

Another thing I am adamant about is my sense of HONOR, which I hold more dear to me than my life. It allows for no exceptions whatsoever. So even though I have lost friends or even made enemies for standing up for my honor, I do not care. If I see someone who comes across to me as a liar, a bully, or just plain rude and stupid, then I usually try to fight back. If I see someone doing or saying things that damage the credibility of the causes I happen to believe in, I deeply take offense at that because I want those causes to be protected, even at the expense of picking fights with those who are unworthy to support those causes. I believe in consistent standards of right and wrong and so I see no point in ever excusing something that is wrong because the wrongdoer is otherwise a friendly or nice guy. That’s how corruption sets in.

My guess is that because this guy was brainwashed from childhood with his conservatism, he must have assumed those on the left were also brainwashed the same way. But that was NOT the case with me. I became a hard-core liberal as an adult, despite being raised in a family of Republicans, because I used my intelligence to cut through the propaganda and the double standards of the right to see that the liberals were and have ALWAYS been on the side of truth and justice for all. No one had to tell me what to think or do, I came to my opinions on my own, especially once I broke away from religious thinking and embraced my current philosophy.

Speaking of religious thinking:

Sheffield is writing a memoir about his upbringing in a fundamentalist Mormon family. He was born in Utah, one of 10 children, and his father “had a street ministry where he passed out religious pamphlets and played his guitar.”

He now considers himself an “atheist agnostic” who believes that “all religions are demonstrably false, but I don’t think that you can definitively prove that there are no gods of any kind.”

Yep, religious indoctrination and political indoctrination often go hand in hand. Most Mormons are hard-core conservatives. So are many evangelical Christians. Though many Christians scorn Mormonism as a cult, they are far closer than you might think at first glance.

Mormons = White Americas in a cult

Sheffield believes that much of the mainstream press doesn’t write empathetically enough about most conservative voters.

“The tens of millions of people who vote Republican are not deplorable. They are misled,” he wrote. “And the mocking and tribalistic coverage that lefty media often engage in only makes things worse.”

Well, this is a case of “what goes around comes around”. Conservative bigots like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the anchors and hosts of FOX News have made a living for themselves demonizing liberals at every turn…..how the hell were liberals supposed to react to such constant verbal abuse? Of course they would start demonizing conservatives and their brainwashed followers in turn! DUH!!!

As for the claim of liberal media bias prior to the 1980s, that stemmed from the media covering the civil rights struggles of the 1960s in the American south, along with the Vietnam War. Both of them involved racism, abuse, corruption and lies, all of which were exposed by a media that was far more objective then than it is now. Eventually, the conservatives in both cases were defeated; the institutional racism of the southern states was mostly eliminated, while the USA finally withdrew from Vietnam and allowed the Vietnamese to decide their own destiny (we weren’t fighting Communism in Vietnam, but a rebellion against colonialism and white supremacy that happened to be led by Communists, and our failure to realize that cost us over 50,000 American lives).

Now, when you grow up believing that

  1. Communism (Socialism) is evil no matter what and
  2. There is something naturally virtuous about being a white Christian American

…it is only natural to think that “your people” were somehow stabbed in the back by some outside force. In the case mentioned above, the mainstream media was made the scapegoat. And yes, both those claims above are indeed WRONG.

“If you’re not seeing what the other side has to say, then you’ll miss stuff that’s true and inconvenient. If you can’t confront information that’s inconvenient to you, then you’re not serious about the information,” he said. “Your opinions are not informed. They are ignorant. If you don’t encounter information that makes you say, ‘Huh, maybe I was wrong about that’ — if you never think that to yourself — you’re not doing it right.”

He is correct, of course. I myself have had to confront and change my opinions about issues, as depicted here:

Being Better Educated and Changing my Opinion

When I was told:

When we’re wrong about something, it’s hard to admit it and all we can do is just that and seek to make it right. Everyone can be misinformed and I think the thing that really shows a person’s character is how they react when confronted with mistakes they’ve made. Seeking to understand and adjust your view with new information is awesome.

I have changed my mind, and so has Matthew Sheffield. So have others. I can only hope that over time we can reform the media to end the tribalistic bullshit and return the media to what it was back in the 1960s.

2 thoughts on “Media Bias is a Thing NOW, Not Before the 1980s

  1. I think I agree with everything you say here. BTW, I actually listen to snippets of Rush Limbaugh when I am in my car at the appropriate time. Not because I find it pleasant but because I think it is important to get a sense of how that side of things is thinking. I’ll never forget that he said Trump was going to get elected before it actually happened in 2016. I was blindsided by the election but he turned out to be the only one who alerted me and it did happen. At least a handful in my Mom’s group have totally drunk the kool-aid. Nothing has separated us like the arrival of Trump into the presidency.

    • I think Trump won in 2016 because the election was rigged to favor him in a few key states, and the reason he refuses to concede to Biden now in 2020 and so many lawsuits have been filed over this year’s election is because he couldn’t cheat to win this time……and once Trump leaves office, he will be facing a TON of criminal charges. And Trump’s going to prison will open the floodgates to many other Republicans being arrested and imprisoned for all sorts of corruption charges over the next few years.

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