The media and your opinion

newspaper-and-coffeeThis past week, the “Commander in Chief Forum” was supposed to allow the two major presidential nominees to showcase their readiness to lead our nation’s military. Many believe the two candidates did just that, and yet most of the post-event focus was on media bias and how differently the two candidates were treated in their back-to-back interviews with veteran TV personality Matt Lauer. The difference was so glaring, it’s hard to ignore or dismiss as a wild consipracy and if you missed the event, NBC News has The Commander in Chief Forum recorded so you can see it on demand.

What it does is highlight one big reason why we find ourselves two months before the election with the candidates very close in the polls in what should be a laughably unequal contest. On the one hand, Hillary Clinton is a seasoned public servant who has decades of experience and actual leadership in championing causes few would dispute – education, inequality, poverty, healthcare, fiscal policy. On the other hand, Donald Trump is a businessman with no public service and history of multiple divorces and adultery, multiple bankruptcies and who has been a party to over 3,500 lawsuits and is under investigation for soliciting illegal foreign campaign support and has been proven to make illegal contributions to political candidates.

Matt Lauer’s bungling of the Forum is symptomatic of a larger issue in the media. New York Times’ Paul Krugman suggested in “Is the Fever Finally Breaking?” that Matt Lauer did us all a favor with his disastrously biased performance because it made it no longer possible to ignore it. The Nation did a good job inHow False Equivalence Is Distorting the 2016 Election Coverage” of addressing how the media misleads based on how they are covering in trying to provide “both sides of the story.”

Russell Glass, VP of Products at LinkedIn, published an opinion piece on LinkedIn Pulse on September 8 called “The Election Bias,” which I strongly encourage you to read and reflect upon. It’s useful to help explain how the media has helped shape the opinions of those around us, and to help us find ways to respond to people who say things like “Hillary Clinton is not trustworthy” (as if Donald Trump were).

The result of this media coverage, of course, is that this election seems to be closer than any reasonable person thinks it should be. As  you consume your own media, try to think objectively about the source and whether or not it is heavily biased. And be careful to note whether or not you are reading or citing a news article, blog post, an editorial or op-ed piece:

  • A news article by and large will adhere to journalistic standards of fact, focusing on who, what, when, where, why and how.
  • A blog post can be highly factual, but it is written from the individual’s perspective  – pay attention to the words used in the blog post and that will tell you when the writer is citing fact or connecting dots with his/her point of view.
    [Note: TrueBlueRaleigh is a blog. Notice how Matt Lauer is referred to above as a “TV Personality” and not a “journalist.”]
  • Editorials and op-ed pieces (literally “opinion-editorials”) can also be based on fact and are backed by the editors of the publication, but they are written with a specific point of view the writer is advocating.

It’s a good idea to always seek multiple news sources and mix in articles, blog posts, editorials and op-eds. And think twice before sharing something with others while  being careful to note whether it’s fact or opinion. Opinions are very good to share, especially if they are fact-based and well researched.


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