Media bias has become a powerful tool in the power and propaganda war in the technological age. U.S. mainstream media’s effort in making up a completely different image of the incumbent president – Donald Trump – is an outstanding example. But while trying to convey negative information with the aim of worsening President Trump’s image, they definitely face people’s indifference and distrust.
Fabricating fake image and story
During the election campaign and even after taking office, President Trump was frequently described by the media as a racist and imperialism-oriented.
On March 28, 2017, the RedState website reported on an article from The New York Times that intentionally falsified content and words in President Trump’s speech. In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, President Trump said: “We are also going to save countless American lives. As we speak today, immigration officers are finding the gang members, drug the dealers, and the criminal aliens, and throwing them the hell out of our country. And we will not let them back in.”
But in The New York Times, Glenn Thrush wrote: “His speech also included a promise to throw undocumented immigrants “the hell out of the country” and a recitation of his law-and-order campaign promises.”
In February 2017, a reporter from the American Urban Radio Network announced that President Trump said during his election campaign that white people built America. After White House officials responded that the president never said anything like that, the reporter explained to the Washington Examiner that she was talking about President Trump’s speech on March 12, 2016, in Vandalia, Ohio, in front of his supporters.
However, that day, the president said: “We cannot let the rights stipulated in the First Amendment be deprived, guys. We can’t let that happen. We have the right to speak. I mean, we are law-abiding citizens. We are very hardworking people. We are the people who built this country and made it great.” There were no statements that white people built America.
Some well-known media channels such as BuzzFeed, CNN, and many other newspapers have ignored media principles while working on and reporting about something that has not been verified. An alleged former British intelligence agent accused President Trump and his associates of kompromat (Russian term for documents used to extort money or influence state officials). According to former House Chairman Newt Gingrich in “Understanding Trump,” this report “had been floating around Washington for months, and no official agency had confirmed any of it.” Yet mainstream media simultaneously published their reports despite the fact that the accuracy of the facts remained unverified.
In addition to distortion, cutting out information, inadequate quoting of the statements of President Trump and related agency, the American left-wing press also made mistakes out of their prejudice without taking accuracy or fairness into consideration.
Once a Time magazine reporter who covered the inauguration of President Trump at the White House, told his co-workers that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office, President Trump was immediately criticized of racism. When the news spread, it accelerated hatred African Americans felt toward the new president. But it turned out that King’s bust had never been taken out of the Oval Office. The reporter then posted an excuse tweet that he had searched for the statue at least twice but it may have been concealed behind a door or the secret agent.
He was completely mistaken, it was normal, but he could not explain why he did not directly ask the White House press secretary about the statue but took advantage of the opportunity to criticize the president based on his prejudice.
It led to an unrecoverable consequence when more than 3,000 media organizations repeated the false story of a racist white president, spreading hostile thoughts through the African American community. (According to Newt Gringrich’s “Understanding Trump”)
Erosion of people’s confidence
After a long and lonely war with American left-wing propaganda, people were fed up and turned away from one-way speakers. According to Gallup’s results published on Sept. 14, 2016, the American public’s confidence in the media fell to the lowest level that Gallup ever recorded: from 68 percent in 1973 to 32 percent in 2016, this was also the time when the president was attacked most fiercely when running for the presidency of the United States.
In 2017 and 2018, the confidence index had gradually increased after sliding to the bottom, to 41% and 45% respectively. However, the figure is still lower than the average and most people still believe that the media follows one-way and biased trends. Specifically, in June 2018, a Gallup survey showed that 62 percent of those polled believed that news on television, newspapers and radio were biased, 44 percent said the reported news is fake.
Another Knight Foundation poll also showed similar results, when 39 percent of those polled said that the news on the media was fake. Accordingly, false information is defined as “stories that are made up or cannot be verified but are brought out to readers as if they are accurate.”
And it is not surprising that the Democrats trust the media much more than Republicans or independents do. In 2016, while 51 percent of Democrats (the opposition to the presidential ruling party) polled believed in the media, the rate of neutral and Republican groups was only 30 percent and 14 percent respectively. In 2018, confidence in mainstream media was reflected in the three ratios showing Democrats, Republicans and neutral politicians at 76%, 42% and 21%, respectively.
The world is no longer a place for one-way media
Propaganda media could once be an effective tool for the competition of power and directing public opinion. But whatever you do, in any industry or field, you need to base everything on basic ethical principles. Only by acting on and working based on the universal values of humanity, can you receive the support of society, through which you could be regarded as a moral person. Journalistic ethics, if based on universal values, can be generalized in three keywords: honesty (Truth), responsibility for the sake of others (Compassion), and a willingness to bear loss for the sake of truth (Forbearance).
We are now in the grip of intensive and multidimensional information age, the talents and personality of journalists will always be verified and evaluated by wise and knowledgeable readers. News in the world is no longer the monopoly of one-way propaganda. Only when universal values are upheld, could social morality upgrade again. It is because only by obeying those values can people live and prosper.