In my opinion, the media in the United States is in a very decrepit state. As Jon Stewart points out nightly on the Daily Show, the bias presented by various networks is appalling. News has become less about informing people about facts, and more about telling people what their opinions should be. People tune in to the network that matches their already established political ideology, preventing them from seeing the world from more than one viewpoint, and making them less perceptive to the viewpoints of others. Although I obviously hold opinions of my own, I think that it is incredibly important for people to be capable of actually challenging what they believe, and to enter every argument with the knowledge that their opinion might actually be swayed. If people are so stubborn in their beliefs, arguments will devolve into pointless shouting matches that only serve to make both sides hate each other more. Unfortunately, this sentiment is provoked by our media, who often insult their counterparts on opposing networks, rather than attempt to intelligently refute their arguments.
The power of the media to influence public opinion, and even to provoke an entire movement, was demonstrated recently by the emergence and popularization of the Tea Party. One network aggressively promoted this movement, encouraging viewers to get involved in the movement by providing attendance and organization information such as protest dates, locations, and website URLs. The network’s website disseminated various information about the movement, and popular figures for the channel urged viewers to join them at Tea-Party events. This network was also rather one-sided in its support of the movement, blatantly attacking one political party with statements like, “in the case of the current crisis the blame appears to have been assigned almost totally to Obama, at least by the thousands of U.S. taxpayers attending near-spontaneous ‘tea parties’ in protest of the Democrats agenda of more taxes, increased spending, higher deficits and a surge of borrowing to pay for it all” (Peter Roff).
The bias in the media is certainly not one-sided. One television network was analyzed in the week leading to the election, and was found to have literally provided no positive coverage of the Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
I think that the bias in the media is the root of one of the deepest political issues that we have in this country, as it prevents civil discourse between individuals of separate ideologies, inhibiting compromise and progress.