The Truth About Main Stream Media
Liberal bias, right wing extremism, fake news, and even the enemy of the people! These are terms that have been bantered about for the last several years regarding main stream media from all sides of the political spectrum. At issue is what the truth is and how as Christians we can be on the side of promoting honesty in media?
I would like to breakdown our discussion in three categories: Cable shows, Sunday morning shows, and Network news.
By design cable shows are biased and slanted toward a particular political philosophy. For example, MSNBC reports things from a liberal perspective and Fox News from a conservative perspective. There are exceptions, but almost exclusively the cable programs will have Democrats on MSNBC and Republicans on Fox News. The approach is to present their side of the story. While truth and accuracy can be expressed, the slant is heavily in the direction of the political philosophy.
I personally watch NewsNation, as they challenge both Liberals and Conservatives. The hosts always have experts from the administrations of Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. Their stated goal is report accurately the news of the day, and they do an excellent job.
The Sunday morning political shows are much more balanced. For example if an issue is going to be discussed, such as improving the budget, the host will have a Democratic Representative or Senator interviewed for five minutes and then a Republican counterpart for the same amount of time. Then all these shows have a panel that will discuss various issues with a balance of Republican or conservative members and Democratic or liberal members. So in my opinion I don’t see bias in these programs.
The nightly network news reports stories of the day in their half hour format. While the reporting is factually correct, sometimes the nightly news will emphasize one side of a position more than others. Using immigration as an example, the nightly news might spend more time interviewing people that have an approach to lift Title 42, and a smaller amount of time interviewing those that want to keep it. In this way, while truth telling, the stories are slanted. So if there are any biases it is here. But remember, it is not fake news, just slanted sometimes to emphasize what most likely the network wants.
One way we can find out if something is true is to go to fact checkers. There are some associated with networks, like CNN, but others are independent designed to check out what politicians recite as accurate statistics. Some organizations that fit this bill are PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and Snopes. All of them list expert sources so one can further read up on the accuracy of political claims.
As Christians it is imperative that we check out reporting by news agencies, so we don’t become part of partisan rhetoric that has no basis of truth. We can do that by going to fact check organizations when some statistic is declared as gospel.
We also need to have the attitude of the Bereans. Acts 17:11 says, “And the people of Berea were more open minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.” The Bereans passionately wanted to make sure everything they heard was accurate. What an incredible example of integrity and the spirit of Christ.
This whole issue of accuracy in media has been around forever. Rather than ranting and raving about it, my pastoral counsel is to check it out with an open mind, and then if there is any incorrect information, share it in love with others.
The world desperately needs to see that Christians are in the forefront of accurately reporting the news. If we allow prejudice and bias enter our commentary, then it is not only false, but it corrupts our Gospel message to the world.
The goal is the Great Commission, which is to make disciples of everyone we can lead to Christ. If, however, we “disciple” someone in wrong bias and inaccuracy, then we perpetuate the lies and make it that much harder to influence the world.
At the end of the day, if we critique the media wrongly, then we truly are no different than the world. That Christian friends are a label that we shall never want attached to us.