"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The State of the Debate
For decades, the idea of "biased media" has been a major argument of conservatives. Claiming that by restricting the viewpoint to strictly fit a Liberal (big-government) point of view, information was being grossly distorted to fit their mindset. The media and its supporters felt that the truth was being reported and conservatives were simply trying to force their "spin" on the news.
In 1996 Fox News launched (NASDAQ:NWS), which was meant to serve as a "fair and balanced" network. Liberals claimed the station blindly followed the GOP. Conservatives felt that the truth was finally being reported. So the war rages on.
The argument that now both sides are using is that biased media produces incorrect news. Any numbers or data used by the network to support a position are always found to be skewed, or "doctored" to fit the desired findings. A fair media is required to report just the facts, and only the facts, with no spin or opinion. It is essential to maintain non-partisan news to prevent government control or capitalist control of the media. Only then can people trust the news being reported.
Imagine any important news item in recent history. I will use the Benghazi attacks as an example. Now that we know, at least generally, what happened, let's look at how it would have been reported:
Left Media: "California man sets off riots at U.S. embassy in Benghazi with racist video."
Right Media: "Islamic extremists attack U.S. embassy in Benghazi."
Neutral Media: "U.S. embassy in conflict, possible deaths reported, cause yet to be determined."
The left media example was the truth to many people, as was the right media example. Media companies do what is best for their customers, and their customers have political opinions. So, based on their customers opinions, they reported the news. The main reason for the above example however is the last entry, "Neutral Media". The entry reflects exactly what we knew immediately following the attacks. Neutral media of course doesn't exist but think of who in the world would prefer this type of news; no one. People want depth, analysis and speculation; people want partisan news.
It's impossible anyway because...
The fact is, as long as people are reporting the news, bias will be involved. The 1st amendment was written to specifically protect bias in media. If the bias is toward socialism then so be it. Why would government need such strong language against being involved in the press if just the "facts" were being reported?
The biggest hypocrisy is when Fox calls itself "Fair and Balanced". Yes, I agree that they allow the most two sided debates on their programs, but the network as a whole supports the GOP wholeheartedly. So to claim that it is fair and balanced falls right back into the liberal media mindset of the 60s. CNN, CBS, NBC, and MSNBC make no such claims of being fair, because they aren't. Fox on the other hand, for some reason thinks having the entire National Review office on as guest speakers is fair and balanced. This isn't to say it's wrong to have right leaning media, it is to say that claiming neutrality is.
This is Just How the Press Works
From the very beginning of this country it was simply understood that the press would report what it thought happened. That is why the free press exists, so that the government cannot manufacture or hide news stories. In 18th century America, newspapers published articles that fit the paper's perspective on politics. The Independent Gazetteer was a fiercely anti-federalist newspaper that published the Letters of Centinal, penned by Samuel Bryan. The Independent Journal, a federalist newspaper, published the legendary Federalist Papers, written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. This bias was considered acting on our freedom of the press, not abusing it to fit a political agenda. It was simply understood that if you wanted the federalist take on the news, you get a federalist newspaper, and visa versa.
I understand the frustration suffered by conservatives that had to endure the age where liberal media was the media. Every news story had to be critically looked into to understand if you believed what was reported. Without trust in the politics of the reporter, the stories presented cannot be trusted. Certain aspects of society are controlled by certain groups, liberals have Hollywood, education, entertainment, and most television, while conservatives have radio, the Church, country music, and Fox News. These areas may change hands from time to time, but no one group will have all of them. The media is no different, so as a conservative myself I beg everyone to understand that "bias" isn't wrong and everyone has it. Instead of complaining about the "mainstream media", counter it with numbers and statistics, not with whining. There is no such thing as "fair and balanced" press, and there never will be.