Facts, Bias, and Slant

Media bias is real. Yes, there are fake news sites. But the “main stream media,” a term right-wing near-nazis (note I did not call them neo-nazis) does not, by and large, conform to my definition of the propagators of fake news. Those low-life scum are not simply biased; they are biased and they manufacture stories they present as factual. They lie. They cannot be trusted. Their operators belong in prison cells, where they would eat only if their friends or family brought them food; just my opinion, of course.

Fortunately, there are sources of information about media that reveal the degree to which an outlet is biased. My favorite is Media Bias/Fact Check whose website is, surprise, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/.

The reason this topic is on my mind this afternoon is that a person associated with a program operated by my church (though she is not a member of the church) offered a link to a website to support an opinion she had earlier given (in an email). I found her opinion to be stupid, short-sighted, and tied inextricably to an ill-informed conservative mindset. A website she cited was one I whose quality and reliability I judge to be only moderately better than The National Inquirer. The paper to which she linked is The Sun; the U.K. version of TNI (well, not quite that bad).

At any rate, after reading her comments, I decided to check the bias-rating of her source. It is rated as being “MIXED” in terms of factual reporting. It is rated with a right bias (which I knew, but wanted to verify). In describing rags of rating, Media Bias/Fact Check says:

These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.

That having verified my opinion, I decided to check out some other media outlets. One to which I pay quite a lot of attention, but which I have lately thought is not entirely unbiased, is National Public Radio. Just as I assessed, NPR is said to have a left-center bias, though Media Bias/Fact Check rates it VERY HIGH on factual reporting. Its description of media outlets that fall in the same rating category as NPR:

These media sources have a slight to moderate liberal bias. They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) to favor liberal causes. These sources are generally trustworthy for information, but may require further investigation.

What about CNN? I suspect it would not surprise anyone to learn that CNN is MIXED with respect to factual reporting. And it is judged to have a left bias. I used to believe what I saw/read on CNN television and its website. I’m not longer ready to accept it without question. The description of media assessed in this way by Media Bias/Fact Check:

These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward liberal causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage liberal causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.

FOX News is CNN’s fraternal twin, on the other half of the spectrum, with MIXED factual reporting and a right bias, described as:

These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.

All right. Who is both reliable from the perspective of giving us facts and relatively unbiased? Not surprising, the Associated Press is among the highest rated media resources, judged VERY HIGH on factual reporting, though “borderline Left-Center Biased due to left leaning editorializing, but Least Biased on a whole due to balanced story selection.” The description of such high-rated organizations:

These sources have minimal bias and use very few loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes). The reporting is factual and usually sourced. These are the most credible media sources.

Interestingly, though Public Broadcasting (PBS) is judged by Media Bias/Fact Check as left-leaning, NextAvenue, a digital platform created by PBS, is considered by the site as least biased and HIGH on factual reporting. NextAvenue, though, is not strictly a pure news site, so it’s not necessarily a place to rely on for news of the day.

So, where do I go when I want unbiased news? I have a link to the Associated Press news website on my desktop. I will have a link to NextAvenue, before long. I’ll keep my links to NPR, PBS, etc., etc. (and FOX) just to keep abreast of who’s saying what, but when I want facts, I really want facts. Not spin. Facts. So AP is the place to go for the highest degree of confidence that what I’m reading is factual and reliably free of bias.

Some days, though, I want to see and hear and read something that makes me feel good; something that suggests I’m right in my thinking. That’s when I go to CNN or MSNBC or Slate or Salon or the Atlantic or…many others…to get both information and the right, affirming slant.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes "Intimacy is never wrong. It can be awkward, it can be unsettling, it can feel dangerous, it can seem out of place, but it’s never wrong."― John Swinburn
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