So by now we all know the story behind Shirley Sherrod and her resignation. We also know that many sides as presented in news stories, blogs and by Sherrod herself. I understand that this a controversial issue and that people that are passionate on either side of the debate should push for justice. However, traditional “unbiased” new sources should not be advocates. They shouldn’t be reporting and harping, in essence, on the same event. The only time that this is acceptable is when there is new information. However, during the course of this controversy, new information or not, they must report. Good grief. CNN has done a pretty good job, allowing Sherrod and others to speak on the issue. Fox News, however, is terrible. Why bother bringing anyone on to your program with a different opinion or point of view if you plan to attack them? What a mess. However, I did enjoy that Sherrod declined Megyn Kelly’s offer. What a hoot!! And Kelly was so gracious too.
So today I have a lot of information to share and a heavy critique on Fox News. Be prepared.
Last Thursday Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly joined forces to criticize the Drug Policy Alliance. The goal of the Drug Policy Alliance is to end the war on drugs, according to their website. Now I am not saying that I agree or disagree with the Alliance’s mission, but I do want to state that the Fox News coverage of the Alliance is overtly biased and deplorable.
The first 3 minutes of this video consist of both Kelly and O’Reilly openly bashing the Alliance and those associated with it. Famous recording artist, Sting, faced the brunt of this criticism. O’Reilly mocks Sting on several occassions adding,
“No, he wants to get stoned. He’s going to get stoned.”
Making the assumption that Sting is involved with this organization so he can freely abuse drugs.
Kelly adds her personal opinion of Sting in this dialogue as well.
“There sits in the ivory tower. He’s not even an American, first of all. Save your opinions on our domestic policy for, you know, your own domestic policy. And you know, when he’s not working on a tantric sex, apparently, he’s thinking about America drug policy, and you know, he doesn’t.”
How do his nationality and personal sexual preferences affect his role in the Drug Policy Alliance? These are irrelvent pieces of information, factual or not, that have no direct connection to this cause.
Kelly then spoke with John Stossel, also of Fox News, about this issue. The segment was entitled “Celebs and Wealthy Liberal Activisits Launch Campaign to End War on Drugs”, making the assumption that all “celebrities” and “wealty liberals” are involved with the Drug Policy Alliance.
Kelly was very argumentative with her co-worker. In addition, she made more comments about Sting and his substance abuse without naming any of her “sources.”
I was honestly proud of Stossel, providing ample data about the war on drugs. He spent most of the time logically defending his position and expanding on the idea that “[the war on drugs] creates crime.” I used to watch Stossel on 20/20 when I was younger and was greatly disappointed when I found out he was moving to Fox. After watching this segment with Kelly I am beyond relieved. However I may be slightly biased in this way. At this point I just wanted someone to shut Kelly up.
While bias was clearly an issue in these segments, I am more concerned about the personal and irrelevant attacks made on those who are involved with the Drug Policy Alliance.
Journalism at its worst.
The Berkman Center for Internet & Societ at Harvard launched a new system/application in March that follows media trends. Media Cloud takes articles–each day–from an astounding amount of news media and blogs and stores the information in a database. Users can then visit the Media Cloud website and chart this data. While this is not a finished product, it is an interesting and innovative way to study media. Journalists, communication researchers, news enthusiasts and average Joes are able to explore media trends easily without having to actually gather the data. The Berkman Center has done this for us, taking out a time-consumng step and allowing us to focus on the content. This is valuable because we can, in turn, improve the quality of journalism. Hopefully, ethics committees and news media will utilize Media Cloud to optimize journalism.
I encourage you to check out Media Cloud yourself, but below is some interesting information.
TOP 3 TOPICS
CNN: United States, Washington, California
Fox News: New York, Florida, Texas
MSNBC: Afghanistan, Taliban, Mexico
The New York Times: United States, Washington, California
The Washington Post: Virginia, United States, New York
The Wall Street Journal: New York, China, Washington
I find it interesting that CNN and The New York Times (both considerably left-sided) had identical Top 3.
I ended up on Fox News and found an article about former President Clinton. As you may already know, last summer, Clinton offered Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak an executive branch position if he abandoned his primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter. The article was a hate-fest against Clinton beginning with the phrase,
“Like an aging sports star who can’t stay away from the game…”
Very professional Fox News. The article went on to compare Clinton and the Sestak controversy to Nixon and Watergate. Is this truly comparable? And now for my favorite quote from the article,
“But perhaps the biggest indicator that Clinton is seeking to add to his political legacy is his efforts in recent months to help Democrats avoid the failings of his presidency.”
Was this article anything but rantings against Clinton?
“The Most Trusted Name is News”
“Fair and Balanced”
Can we believe these tag lines and the many others speaking to the credibility of a news organization?
Most of us realize that in journalism, as in life, bias is our foe. Bias clouds judgment and challenges the integrity of writing. But with that said, bias is difficult to avoid, it is part of our human nature. Therefore, as readers we must look beyond the right-wing and left-wing agendas presented in the news and do some exploring of our own. We must learn when to delve deeper into the writings or videos that we are given and we must also learn when to take this information with a grain of salt. My goal is to help open your eyes to the bias in modern news and media so you too can explore this further. I urge you to read and understand the negative influence bias has on our world views.