Posted by: christinelsmith | July 20, 2009

Media Bias and Media Watchdogs

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The media is biased. An individual can determine whether the media is biased towards conservatives or towards liberals by paying attention to which issues are covered and the manner in which these issues are covered. Conservative media will discuss issues that are important to conservatives and liberal media will discuss issues that are important to liberals. They will devote more resources and more time to the issues that are most important to them. It is impossible for the media to be unbiased. A candidate or an issue cannot be discussed in a completely objective manner. There will always be some subjectivity. Journalists, editors, and owners of news corporations possess opinions, which commonly align with conservatives or liberals. Therefore, individuals need to take responsibility upon themselves. They need to become engaged in or interested in the future of the United States. They cannot receive their information about government or politics from one source. They need to listen to different radio stations, read different journals, magazines, and newspapers, and watch different news programs. This is the only way that individuals will receive the conservative and liberal points of view and be able to make their own decisions. The media should influence our decisions without making our decisions for us.

There are negative and positive aspects to media bias. However, I’m not sure that having a biased media is always a problem. Number one – It is inevitable. Number two – Having a biased media allows individuals to look at an issue, hear individuals from the extreme left, hear individuals from the extreme right, and make their own decision. Media bias allows individuals to see the problems with both sides’ views. It allows individuals to be intelligent and rational in their decision making. The United States benefits as a result. Number three – most people are able to see and determine media bias. Most biases are evident. The problem does not always lie in media bias. The problem lies in an uninformed or unknowledgeable citizenry. In my opinion, the media possesses too much responsibility while the American people do not possess enough responsibility.

To combat media bias, conservative and liberal watchdogs exist. Accuracy in Media, Media Research Center, and News Busters are popular right wing watchdogs. Fairness and accuracy in Reporting, Media Matters, and News Hounds are popular left wing watchdogs. These watchdogs monitor and analyze the media and When necessary correct misinformation. In my opinion, media watchdogs are successful when used in conjunction with one another. However, the problem is that the average American doesn’t access or pay attention to the media watchdogs.

Let’s compare and contrast the conservative and liberal media coverage of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. Her nomination to the Supreme Court and her confirmation hearings have been discussed substantially within the media. She’s the hottest topic of debate between conservatives and liberals.

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According to liberals, conservatives have been attacking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, with racist and sexist comments. Fox News, the most conservative news organization, is responsible for the majority of the attacks. Fox News employs conservatives or republicans in a disproportionate manner to liberals or democrats. When Fox News allows liberals to discuss a candidate or an issue, they commonly choose amateur or inexperienced individuals. As a result, experienced and highly rated conservatives argue with inexperienced and poorly rated liberals. In turn, the general public receives a biased or one sided view of Sonia Sotomayor and her future as a Supreme Court Justice. Below, are quotations from Fox News journalists and reporters, which clearly expose their bias:

Sean Hannity said

“This president who promised to unite the country during his campaign has selected the most divisive Supreme Court nominee possible”.

Glenn Beck said

“She is a Marxist”

“The quote in her yearbook is from a socialist”

“I don’t know if this is true or not. This is one piece of analysis that I heard today. She is not that intellectually bright and she is almost a bully. She just loves to hear herself talk”.

Fred Barnes said

“I think you can make the case that she in one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously”.

Bill Bennett replied

“Did she get into Princeton University on affirmative action?”.

Fred Barnes said

“One wonders”.

Pat Buchanan said

“She is an affirmative action pick. Barack Obama had four choices. All of them were women and he picked the Hispanic woman”.

Newt Gingrich said

“White man racist would be forced to withdraw. Latin woman racist should also withdraw”.

Tom Tancredo said

“If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view, nothing more than a Latino – it’s a counterpart – it’s a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that, you have to explain that in a way that is going to convince me and a lot of other people that it has nothing to do with race. The logo of La Raza is “All for the race. Nothing for the rest”. What does that tell you?”.

Rush Limbaugh said

“Here you have a racist – you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist” and “Liberals, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power. Barack Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one”.

G. Gordon Liddy said

“I understand they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, “the race”. That should not surprise anyone because she’s already on the record with a number of racist comments” and “Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would be really bad. Lord knows what we would get then.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the lack of Hispanics and women in the Supreme Court.”

Karl Rove said

“He got wind of judgments from her colleagues that she was not a particularly effective judge” and “She’s argumentative, combative, and opinionated”.

Watch the video:

Another example of conservative bias can be seen when Shannon Bream, Fox News’ Supreme Court reporter, attempted to inform the general public about Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. She reported only conservative or republican opinions on Sonia Sotomayor. She ignored liberal or democratic opinions. She told Fox News’ Jon Scott “To a lot of folks yesterday, when Sonia Sotomayor was finally given a chance to talk about those wise Latina comments, she didn’t really fully explain it away. In fact, they thought her justifications and her explanations, honestly, were a 180 for her”. She also discussed Republican Senator Cornyn’s statement “I’m struggling a little bit to understand how your statement about physiological differences could affect the outcome or affect judging and your stated commitment to fidelity to the law as being your sole standard and how any litigant can know where that will end”. She didn’t discuss the statements of any Democratic Senators. At the conclusion of her news report, she said “Senators still have a lot of questions about her speeches” and “No one is quite convinced yet with Sonia Sotomayor’s explanation of the controversial comment”. She even placed emphasis on certain words. Media watchdogs, Media Matters and News Hounds, have reported that Fox News has delivered disproportionate coverage to Republican questioning and Republican views on Sonia Sotomayor. If she had questioned more Democrats or provided more views from Democrats, her news report would have had an extremely different effect on her viewers. Her viewers would not have possessed a bias approach to Sonia Sotomayor’s hearings. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold said “There was nothing racist about her comments and that they had been taken out of context”. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said “Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society” and “That, to me, tells the whole story.”

Watch the video:

Another example of Conservative bias can be seen throughout the Fox Nation website, which possesses the following headlines regarding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:
– What Do You Think of Obama’s Supreme Court Pick?
– Sotomayor: ‘Court Is Where Policy Is Made’ …Is That in the Constitution?
– Exclusive Video: Sotomayor’s Most Controversial Case
– Liberals Make Case Against Sotomayor
– Rush: GOP Must Go to the Mat Over Sotomayor
– 1992 Sotomayor Nomination Was a Backroom Deal
– Limbaugh: Sotomayor a ‘Reverse Racist’
– Sotomayor: Wise Latinas Better Than White Males
– TOMMY DE SENO: Conservatives Should Hold Their Fire and Confirm Judge Sotomayor
– S.E. CUPP: Sotomayor — Obama’s Nominee Spouts Biased Views on Race and Gender
– KEN BLACKWELL: Obama Declares War on America’s Gun Owners With Supreme Court Pick
– Conservatives Prepare for Supreme Court Fight
– Hannity investigates Sonia Sotomayor’s most controversial case!

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According to conservatives, liberals focus on Sonia Sotomayor’s minority statuses (being Hispanic and being a woman) and on the struggles that she’s encountered and overcome throughout her life. Conservatives believe that Liberals don’t focus on her lack of credentials or on her wrongdoings throughout her career as a judge. Conservatives also believe that liberals ignore the reverse racism that she has exhibited throughout her career. Conservative media believes that liberal media focuses on the opinions of minorities and women to make their point that Sonia Sotomayor will be successful in representing the United States as a Supreme Court Judge. They think that liberal media appeals to the emotions and the senses too much. According to conservative media, liberal media considers her biography and her life more important than her professional philosophy. conservatives see this as a substantial problem.

CNN news reporter, Rick Sanchez, spent an entire segment of a newsroom program interviewing five “wise Latina” women from his hometown. These five “wise Latina” women included his mother. All five “wise Latina” women possessed positive opinions about Sonia Sotomayor’s appointment to the Supreme Court because of their own minority statuses (being Hispanic and being women). These women were successful in appealing to the emotions and to the senses of CNN’s viewers.

Watch the video:
http://media.eyeblast.org/newsbusters/static/2009/07/2009-07-16-CNN-NR-Sanchez.wmv

Liberal media commonly discusses Sonia Sotomayor’s journey from the bottom to the top. Liberal media thinks that her move from public housing to Supreme Court nominee is “amazing” and “unbelievable”. CBS news reporters, Bob Schieffer and Katie Couric, frequently focus on her biography. Conservatives argue that this is all that they emphasize. Schieffer said that she was “the political advisor’s dream candidate”. Couric said that she had a “very, very compelling life story”. During the Evening News, CBS news reporters discussed her biography and Couric emphasized her “amazing life story” and her “incredible journey” once again. CBS news reporter, Priya David, said that “Her beginnings couldn’t be much more humble”. On Good Morning America, ABC news reporter, Claire Shipman, gave what appeared to be a campaign ad on behalf of Sonia Sotomayor, saying that “Even as a little girl, growing up in a drug-ridden South Bronx housing project, stricken with juvenile diabetes, she had that trademark knack: instead of seeing dead ends, young Sonia saw possibilities; instead of giving up, she investigated every angle….She’s also an avid Yankees fan, a mean guacamole maker, and a fierce biker.”

I think it’s ironic that when Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court, his biography and his life, which included growing up in poverty and rising from poverty, did not earn him good publicity from liberal media. They completely ignored this aspect of him. They thought that it was irrelevant to how successful he would be as a Supreme Court Judge.

Liberal media refrained from referring to Sonia Sotomayor as a liberal. NBC news anchor, Pete Williams, said that “Despite her remarkable personal odyssey, Judge Sotomayor is already being called a liberal activist by some conservative groups”. ABC news anchor, Jonathan Karl, said that “To conservatives, Sotomayor is a liberal activist who uses the courts to impose her own personal views”.

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In conclusion, individuals need to realize and accept that the media is biased. Bias exists towards conservative and towards liberals. In the case of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, the conservative media appears to be much more biased than the liberal media. However, in my opinion, bias is inevitable in journalism and in reporting. Therefore, individuals need to put some of the responsibility upon themselves. They need to make sure that their news intake is diversified, which will enable them to sort through left wing and right wing biases. In my opinion, the media watchdogs are successful in exposing the media bias. However, we need to spend less time reading about media bias and more time on receiving diversified opinions or views. Overall, I believe that the media watchdogs are successful in determining and correcting media bias. However, the average American does not consult the media watchdogs on their governmental and political knowledge. Therefore, I’m not sure how successful media watchdogs are for the average American. Media bias is extremely controversial and unfortunately, is a problem that won’t be solved anytime soon.

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