I recently conducted a survey on my favorite nerdy website, surveymonkey.com to find out where my friends and other young adults my age get their current event information. Yeah, I do things like that for fun. And yes, I do have men lining up at my front door … why do you ask?
As a UC student, I tend to make the generalization that the majority of my peers lean to the liberal side, and I learned that I wasn’t too far off from reality in thinking that. 56% of the 100 students who took my survey identified as Democrats, 22% as Republicans, 14% as Independents, and 8% as other (shout out to my Green Party friends?). Despite the left-leaning majority, the news stations that the survey-takers said that they watch were spread pretty evenly, with each hovering around 20%. I was so surprised that 17% of the respondents stated that if they were to choose a nightly news program, they’d choose Fox News, that I joked about it to my roommate, making some asinine comment about Bill O’Reilly being the biggest boner killer in the continental United States. Her reply just about caused little political information maniac Mckinley to go into hypertension. She said something along the lines of, “Yeah, I never really knew that Fox News was a conservative station until I heard you talking about it last year.”
This may have to do with the fact that we are 20-year-old Twittering, American, couldn’t-care-less-about-the-rest-of-the-world, need-to-be-drunk-all-the-time college students that don’t choose to watch the news on TV. It could also have to do with the fact that, according to Gallup Polls, 71% of U.S. teens have the same political beliefs as our parents and my roommate has a Republican, conservative father. But regardless of the reason, regardless of your political beliefs and regardless of the fact that the majority of y’all reading this article will not watch the news in the next 30 days, it is ridiculously important that you all know the bias that the media has on delivering the most basic, futile information to the public.
Now, before I say anything further, please don’t assume that I’m gonna go all apeshit crazy on the conservative media bias. Although you may be surprised to hear this, I do consider myself a fairly moderate liberal on the spectrum of liberalism. I’m still embarrassed when my mom asks me if I’m “sexually active,” I tend to be known as someone with an icy heart with my only loves being cats, James Franco and babies, and my roommates entertain themselves by forcing me to listen to them as they talk about their flatulence and I wince in prudish pain. (I’m not positive that the last example really fits in, but I’ve always wanted to use the word “flatulence” in something I write.) Anyways, I am fully aware that the liberal media is just as guilty of twisting their words to benefit their platform in ways that the majority of its information sponges don’t even notice as they sop up political trivia.
Last Wednesday, one of the main stories on The New York Times’ website was titled: “Top Christie Staff Sought to Disrupt Traffic Revenge.” The article focuses on the “growing scandal” circling Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie’s involvement in traffic lane closings intended as “retribution” against a Democratic mayor and states that e-mails between Christie’s staff prove that Christie was aware of the incident, contradictory to his public statements regarding the issue.
On the same day, on the Fox News website, the first thing I saw was: “Christie calls bridge lanes closure ‘unacceptable,’ denies involvement.” This article focuses on Governor Christie’s strong intention of holding the true culprits responsible and includes a tidbit explaining that the “Democratic National Committee responded to Christie’s statement by saying that it neither explains or apologizes for the scandal,” and followed with a not-so-nice quote about the New Jersey governor straight from the bullying DNC.
I have no idea what truly happened and I honestly don’t believe one story more than the other. I actually find Governor Christie quite likeable and I’m very interested to see how the stars will align for him regarding the coming presidential election. Both news sources completely distorted their stories, framed their writing to promote one political view and pretty much shit all over the other and provided completely different end results for readers.
It’s almost hard not to find huge discrepancies in the framing of the exact same stories between news sources that are clearly so ideologically focused. Obviously this happens when political articles are written, but the media bias is just as present in everyday non-government related stories. Let me grab your attention by comparing the disparate accounts of a story involving marijuana, dick-slashing and the lovely state of Indiana. Excited yet?
On Jan. 2, I came across an article from a major news source entitled, “Indiana woman accused of cutting man’s penis,” and was obviously very intrigued. After reading the story, I went all Veronica Mars and started to research the story further. Near the top of the list was another article titled, “Indiana woman slices man’s penis with a box cutter over child abuse claim.” Do some critical thinking with me for a second. The articles are not at all political and yet one of them sounds as if some psycho tried to castrate the poor dude and the other sounds like a very protective mother probably lost all rational thought and took a little box cutter to a child abuser’s dick.
The first article says that the woman thought the 18-year-old victim (there is nothing that explains the connection between the woman and her victim) molested her 2-year-old son and that her “suspicions developed after smoking marijuana.” The article mentions only her arrest and implies that she was only culprit involved in the crime. The second article leads with the fact that the woman along with two other men held the victim in her home, the victim that … happens to be the boyfriend of her daughter? Yeah, they left a couple things out in that first article. But the second article barely mentions the marijuana and states, “she went to a friend’s house and smoked pot before,” making no connection between the marijuana and her decision to tell her daughter’s boyfriend that he had to “choose his life or his penis.” What a great line …
Six corporations control 90% of American media. That disparity nearly mirrors the numbers you see when talking about our income inequality … what a coincidence. But seriously, that means that 90% of the sources that we use to get our information are hugely tied up in million-and-billion-dollar corporations that have major stakes in both the political and ideological status of America. So do your homework when you’re trying to update yourself on current events. Explore independent news sources like Democracy Now or take a second to Google the news sources that you get your information from, and look at their corporate owners and the greater interest that they have in forming public opinion. And if all of these suggestions are too labor intensive for you, most importantly, simply question what you read. Realize that the country that we live in, while a wonderfully free nation, is completely corrupt when it comes to the unregulated media that we allow and encourage to solidify our already-present political beliefs. I’m a Democrat and I would rather go on a date with Paul Ryan to one of those terrible steakhouses that have animal heads nailed all over the walls than watch Fox and Friends, but at least I recognize that at the end of the day, I’d be elated if our generation just kept up with the news in general. Because if you don’t, I’ll cut your dick off. Just kidding.
Mckinley Krongaus just successfully wrote an article containing both the words “flatulence” and “dick-slashing” … check that off the bucket list.