June 23rd, 2018

Guest Column: Fake news, bias, or both?

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on March 10, 2017.

Recent studies and analysis of the media have shown that over 90 per cent of reporters, analysts and news writers are Liberal, Democrat or otherwise on the left of the political spectrum. About half of these reporters will claim to be independent but an analysis of their work shows that they fail to achieve an independent lack of bias. It should come as no surprise when one considers that all of these people grew up in an education system that openly supports left wing political positions. We grew up watching television created by a motion picture and entertainment industry that lives in a bubble that protects them from the realities of life in the real world. Many of our schools promoted the idea that there is always someone else to blame for what goes wrong and few of us were taught to take personal responsibility for our own actions. The system taught that all are winners and should get a prize just for showing up and everyone is the same. In the real world, there is competition, challenge and failure. There is bias in life and we need to be vigilant to that bias in order to be well informed and in a position to make sound judgments.

Since the vast majority of our news comes from a particular political slant, we have become a population that is poorly informed about the issues facing us today. Those in power and living off the status quo, sometimes referred to as “the swamp,” are happy to have the bias media on their side and have no desire to change anything.

In recent time, a new phenomenon known as fake news has emerged. Fake news most often appears on the internet and is a deliberate attempt to mislead and influence the news and public perceptions either through malice or attempts at humour. Mainstream news organizations generally do not create fake news on purpose but can do so as the result of a rush to judgment, lack of verification and careless use of words. Sometimes more subtle forms of bias are evident. For example, print media often accompanies a story of Justin Trudeau with a flattering picture while Donald Trump’s stories most often show a very unflattering image.

Mainstream media outlets show their bias by their choice of words, by refusing to invite points of view from others who do not agree with them and by belittling and disparaging the policies of the other side. News media should challenge and hold to account our elected officials by asking difficult questions. The fact is that they soft peddle to the left-wing parties and nitpick with the right-wing parties also shows bias. It has reached the point in the U.S. with President Trump that everything he does or says is attacked by the left-wing networks to the point that their view is so distorted that it may qualify as fake news. The same was true to a lesser degree in Canada with former prime minister Stephen Harper. The hate they have is demonstrable. The possible exception to this might be the CBC. They must tread lightly with everyone since they rely on government for a large portion of their funding. They clearly support the Liberal Party which is the most reliable supporter of the CBC.

Bias is shown not only by what they say and do but by what they don’t say. While the U.S. media was calling Prime Minister Trudeau “stupid” for his praise of Cuban leader Castro, the Canadian media supported his flattering view of the violent dictator.

If we want to be informed citizens and voters we must filter the bias and seek alternative sources that provide a different point of view. We should not blindly believe news from any source. Some news outlets have gained a fair degree of credibility, but faith in the neutrality of the main stream media has fallen to an all-time low in recent times.

I encourage everyone to filter, question and verify what politicians and the media say,because everyone has a slant. If we are to be informed and educated rather than programmed, we need to be diligent. Many who read this will dismiss it out of hand. It is too late for you. The rest of us stand to become a whole lot better at thinking for ourselves, rather than parroting media propaganda.

Paul McLennan moved to Alberta more than 20 years ago as a member of the RCMP. He remained in Alberta after retirement in 2002, taught driving part time and settled in Medicine Hat in 2011.

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