My sister, whose political slant is irrelevant, has a common lament. “Who can you believe these days?” Indeed, those days where 90 percent of news consumption was provided by the Big 3 (ABC, NBC, and CBS) evening news programs are so far in the past that the younger generations have no reference to objective reporting in that tradition. Back in those days, a reporter had an honorable and now bygone standard.
If your reporting showed your political bias then you are not doing your job.
My how things have changed. Today, those days of Walter Kronkite (and anchors like him) where the principal message was the facts has almost completely eroded into advocacy journalism. On the extreme side of this, which ironically has gone mainstream (it’s very confusing), an entire network — FoxNews — no longer even pretends to be objective. Yet, at the same time, its audience still thinks they are getting objective journalism. In fact, so overt is FoxNew’s alignment to the Trump administration that the likes of Sean Hannity act as a shadow “chief of staff” to the president, meeting and advising him sometimes daily while, at the same time, reporting on matters in which he is directly involved and clearly influencing. How anyone can call this journalism is beyond me. But this is the era we live in.
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On the other side of the mainstream spectrum, the legacy of Kronkite survives (albeit as an endangered species) through the dry and unemotional delivery of the Mr. Spock-like Wolf Blitzer. How do we know this? As yourself the same question journalists used to ask themselves. Can you identify Blitzer’s politics by the way he reports? Not really.
Between Hannity and Blitzer is filled-in with right-leaning advocacy journalism, although CNN is still considered centrist (only slightly to the left of center) whereas MSNBC is clearly left-of-center and undeniably advocating for the left.
But political slant is one thing. Getting to the truth, however, is often transcendant of political bias. After all, like my sister, honest seekers of the truth are still out there searching for the facts. Fortunately, FactCheck.org has provided a helpful guide (video) for bringing skepticism to your news consumption, and how to avoid spreading it.
The bottom line is this. Make sure you are getting news that is actually real. From there, choose your poison.