In writing this article, I wanted to give a completely unbiased, thorough examination of the influence mass media has on America’s worldview. In talking to people on both sides of the political spectrum, I’ve made the observation that most debates really just boil down to faith in the mainstream media. So, in order to bridge any possible gap, I found it was required to give an honest, albeit uncomfortable, look at this country’s information wars.
“You don’t really need to find out what’s going on
You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone
Eat your dirty laundry”
Throughout human history, stories, legends, and myths have formed narratives that shaped everyday life. We’ve moved from heralds, to telegram, to radio and now to modern media. Sadly, as far as humanity has come, current narratives seem to come from myth more than anything. Television and radio has groomed an entire generation with a silver-toothed comb. This has established an almost unwavering loyalty to everything we watch, subconsciously shaping the consumer. This may seem like a bold claim to someone who shares MSM news stories on their Facebook wall (not to mention that Facebook can control your mood by altering your news feed). However, it’s important to know that small groups now have a chokehold on the information broadcasted in this country. Not only is this illusion of a free media squandered by a not-so-hidden monopoly, but the agenda of those in control can seep downstream into several connected news outlets. The bias tends to collectively have a liberal agenda that feeds into the natural confirmation bias of people.
First off, let’s look at who controls our information. In 1983, 50 different companies controlled 90% of all American media. In 2011, that same 90% boiled down to only 6 companies. This is known as “The Big Six”. On top of these six behemoths, there is a lot more overlap as you can see in the graphic below:
It’s safe to assume the serious impact that news media can have on a person’s mind. But because of various studies, we can see the full impact of mass media. A professor at the University of Sussex has found that a constant barrage of negative suggestions in news has shown to be damaging to an individual’s psyche. A separate peer-reviewed study has shown that, through tweets, false political rumors tend to be a lot more difficult to resolve than rumors that turn out to be true. It would be a separate and difficult matter to make the point that Twitter gains something from these various rumors. However, the effect of rumors and information still stands.
A similar effect was found when Facebook learned they could alter a person’s overall mood and outlook of life just by modifying what was shown on their news feed. On the topic of social media’s impact, is a Cambridge study finding that shows how shared “misinformation” has lasting impacts on it’s viewers – even after it has been debunked. This control isn’t held by unknowing, incidental groups. This power is held by small, specific groups that may, and do, have vested interests.
Next, let’s look at the information that mass media pushes, and the angles in which they do. One should ask themselves: how alive is freedom of the press when CNN – one of the largest news outlets around – obviously silences guests with differing opinions?
I have a whole other article-sized bone to pick with CNN, but I feel as if Jay Fayza with Rebel Media did a good enough job.
Regardless, CNN is a massive news outlet. And seeing a much beloved source of information conducting themselves in this way is shocking and unacceptable.
Remember when the mainstream media made a huge fuss about Trump’s low-grade reading level? Well, although it is true that Trump’s vocabulary is fairly low in terms of former presidents.[hyperlink source above], an analysis done by Carnegie Mellon University found that most presidential candidates speak at a 6-8th grade level.[/hyperlink source above] Even Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both used less complex vocabulary as their campaigns progressed. It is not common for a president to speak in a very high-grade level. I would talk about the Trump-Russian scandal next, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
If it’s not clear enough that a liberal narrative is being discretely broadcasted, take a look at this info graphic:
Remember when NBC edited George Zimmerman’s 911 call?
Or how about when the media whitewashed (pardon the pun) the character of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown? First of all, they circulated innocent, younger, pictures of Martin, neglecting to show more recent pictures at the time.
Don’t get the idea that I’m defending Zimmerman. He’s a scumbag who attempted to later sell the murder weapon. Regardless, it’s clear that the media tried to push a specific, biased viewpoint. The media also pushed the false narrative of Brown having his hands up as well as neglecting to mention the footage of him committing strong-arm robbery at a convenience store.
This type of exploitation of race seems to be major fuel for the racial divide that now plagues America. [source hyperlink above] A study from the International Journal of Communication have shown that media can reinforce “activated gut feelings” for stereotypes of groups. The media can create “negative implicit attitudes”, and “alter explicit attitudes”.[/source hyperlink] Black Lives Matter – a volatile movement in its own right – even adopted the motto: [hyperlink BLM sign]“Hands up! Don’t shoot!”[/hyperlink BLM sign] during their protests (riots) for Michael Brown.
Lastly, I’ll bring up when Trump “made fun of a handicapped reporter.” Well, of course he did, right? A candidate for one of the highest offices in the world would make fun of somebody with a physical disability. Why not?
Wrong… It made for juicy headlines, but it didn’t make the accusation any less false. Trump makes said expressive, flustered expression to mock various people – including groups, and even himself! You can see this false narrative blown out of the water with even a bit of digging.
This whole debacle – and that’s what it is: a debacle – is tricky. You have freedom of press, which has seemingly fallen victim to sensationalism. This sensationalism deceives people, and it’s an abuse of freedom, but an expression of freedom nonetheless. It seems like the real question is: how can this harmful reporting be countered? Well, since finding the Proud Boys Magazine, I’ve been exposed to a more punk, grassroots, and community-centered form of reporting. As someone who aligns with a more populist worldview, this sort of thing seems like a healthy and new shift in power. Websites that challenge mainstream narrative, and seek out the truth no matter how they may be labelled by society, is doing great work. Still, outlets like these are a comparatively tiny opposition to these massive media organizations. I feel it is a responsibility of Proud Boys and seekers of truth to support these independent – truly independent – sources of news whenever possible.
Regardless, new and/or young journalists must push for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Since when did that stop being the precise job of a reporter? A journalist is a commentator of society, investigating hypotheses, and abandoning or embracing them. Following truth wherever it may lead you – not to publish sensational propaganda to sway the masses.