There have been numerous complaints regarding press bias in the United States over recent decades. According to Lee (24), traditional news media outlets, at times, tend to present news stories that are often critical for presidential administrations or even campaigns. For the people working in the news media, their part of being a watchdog over the governmental officials is usually to withstand criticism. However, many people have claimed that some media outlets such as Fox News tends to promote conservative ideas and even favors the Republican Party. Also, in some instances, Fox News has been accused of misrepresentation of facts. Therefore, this paper will present some cases of media biases at Fox News and their impact on the public. Also, I will include polling data results that show the level of the public's confidence in the objectivity and fairness of the media.
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Media Biases at Fox News
According to Krause et al. (58), there is a close relationship between President Donald Trump and Fox News, where this media outlet tends to function as an implicit communication facility for Trump's administration political agendas. Krause et al. (58), also states that there is a "revolving door of former Fox News employees who work in the White House as well as former White House employees who work at Fox News." As a result, this media outlet has erased the boundaries of journalistic integrity, where it currently functions as a "Trump propaganda machine." Therefore, in their programming, it is usually unclear on whether Trump controls the media outlet or Fox News is the one controlling President Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to criticize the "Fake News" media outlets where he seems to mean any other company other than the Fox News network. This tends to show that there is a lot of bias in the media outlet, as it always seems to favor President Trump. According to Krause et al. (63), the president had an adverse attitude towards CNN, where he even tried to block AT&T's purchase of Time-Warner, which is the parent organization of CNN. In this act, Trump's administration's sued to block the merger; however, in June 2018, the court approved the merger, thus authorizing the purchase. This is an indication of a person trying to control the media and thus create biases. Also, there are numerous other cases of biases more towards conservative values. For instance, Fox News has attained the reputation of being a cable TV haven for white supremacy, where the network's Fox & Friends segment plays a crucial role. In 2018, Fox News became an advocate for immigration, where they indicated there was an "invasion" by the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., particularly a group of the Central American migrants who travel over 1000 miles to the US-Mexico border ("Migrant Caravan Reaches Mexican Border" 0:23). In one week, the media outlet ran 8 hours of content about the then distant caravan. Fox & Friends, at the time, started the day by creating hysteria that revolved around anti-immigration, eventually indicating that the U.S. should take military action to protect the country's sovereignty ("Gingrich: Caravan Is An Attack On US Sovereignty" 4:50). After these allegations were aired on Fox & Friends, a white supremacist killed 11 Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh. However, the hysteria eventually passed, but the media outlet's false and dangerous statements regarding immigrant "invasion" continued. Months later, another mass shooter struck in which 20 people in El Paso died ("Texas Governor Confirms 20 Dead, 26 Injured in El Paso Shooting" 5:45). The shooter indicated that he was trying to prevent the "Hispanic invasion in Texas.
Furthermore, Krause et al. (72), indicates that the network's power usually comes from its viewers, and it often tries to defend them. This statement tends to show how and why Fox usually inspires a strong sense of brand loyalty amid its viewers compared to other cable networks. However, the act of protecting viewers can result in biases. For instance, Fox News defends Trump on numerous occasions, which creates a notion that when the president is attacked, the public could be next. This, in turn, distorts information and favors biases on conservative values. This is a mutation of a dominant culture of conservative victimization, which is primarily amplified by the president himself. Fox News works hard to maintain this audience relationship, where the company's flagship morning show spearheads these efforts. Fox & Friends often airs live episodes with live audiences, often including governmental officials, who get regular effusive praise on Fox. Breakfast with Friends is another recurring segment where secondary hosts and correspondents tend to travel to dinners in different parts of the country, often shadowing a Trump rally or election debate to attain the pulse of the public. Strangely, when the devoted fans go to these segments to offer their views, they usually echo the conservative, pro-trump line that can be found in Fox's mainstays.
Polling Data Results on the Public’s Confidence in the Fairness and Objectivity of the Media
According to Robb (par. 3), following the rating of numerous news organizations, including Fox, Americans tend to make minimal distinction amid accuracy and bias. In 2016, the Gallup polling history showed that 32% of Americans had a high or fair level of trust in the media, which was 8 points down to the previous year. In 2017, trust in the media was 37%, which was a view shared by 62% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans (Robb par. 5). However, the polls do not analyze how biased or accurate the media is but only the insights of those that were surveyed.
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Moreover, Gallup (par. 6) indicates that Americans' trust in the media has eroded over time. President Trump has, on multiple occasions, described the media as "the enemy of the people," and as a result, it has colored the views of Americans. In 2016, most Republicans declined from trusting the media during Trump's campaign for the presidency. This is because Trump was critical of how the media covered his events (Gallup par. 7). Also, between 2015 and 2016, media trust by the Republicans dropped by 18 points from 14% and remained constant until 2017. After a seven-point increase in 2018, it later dropped by 15% in 2019 (Gallup par. 7). However, Democrats have continuously trusted the media compared to Republicans and even became more trusting after Trump took office. However, the most recent statistics tend to show that in the past year, the public's trust in media has marginally reduced (Gallup par. 7).
The most vital role of the press is to scrutinize those that are in power and those that seek power and influence. Therefore, democracy must have a trustworthy news media that is free from biases. Fox News is a news network that has, for a long time, fuelled Trump's propaganda, which is a clear sign of biases and violation of journalism ethics. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that being a watchdog over the government officials entails withstanding criticism. Thus, media houses should focus on creating content that gets information from multiple credible sources and create a platform where viewers can gain unbiased exposure to all sides of the political issues.
- "Texas Governor Confirms 20 Dead, 26 Injured In El Paso Shooting". Youtube, Uploaded by Fox News 3 Aug 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C0AvhaUiy4. Accessed 9 Feb 2020.
- “Gingrich: Caravan Is An Attack On US Sovereignty". Youtube, Uploaded by Fox News 19 Oct 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mekxrYxEvEA. Accessed 9 Feb 2020.
- “Migrant Caravan Reaches Mexican Border". Youtube, Uploaded by Fox News, 19 Oct 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRz8rVi5gro. Accessed 9 Feb 2020.
- Gallup, Inc. "Americans' Trust In Mass Media Edges Down To 41%". Gallup.Com, 2020, https://news.gallup.com/poll/267047/americans-trust-mass-media-edges-down.aspx.
- Krause, Nicole M., et al. "Fake News." Journalism and Truth in an Age of Social Media (2019): 58-75.
- Lee, Tien-Tsung. "Virtual theme collection: “Trust and credibility in news media”." Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 95.1 (2018): 23-27.
- Robb, David, and David Robb. "Gallup Poll: 62% Of Americans Believe News Is Biased & 44% Say It’s Inaccurate". Deadline, 2020, https://deadline.com/2018/06/fake-news-gallup-poll-americans-believe-news-is-biased-inaccurate-1202414504/.
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