Systemic media bias could destroy American politics

Mohammad Syed

It’s become very obvious that the media has a dramatic effect on the outcome of politics, and specifically, the presidency. Last Wednesday, Facebook and CNN partnered together to present to America the upcoming election’s first Democratic debate. According to viewer polls by CNN, Slate and TIME Magazine, Senator Bernie Sanders was the clear champion. This was not the case for the editors of these specific multimedia entities, however. CNN titled its post-debate headline as “Clinton’s Confident Sweep,” Slate as “Hillary Clinton Won,” and Time as “Clinton in Control.”

There’s a stark difference between the polls and the media conglomerates. One says Sanders won. The other says Clinton won.

Here’s the problem: Most people, when looking online for the victor, are only going to see the large bolded headlines rather than the polls. Viewer polls aren’t the sole determinant in the outcome of the debate, but they should have some influence. While it is very valid to say the debate went very well for Clinton, it’s ridiculous to say that it didn’t go well for Sanders — especially considering the fact that nearly every poll said that Sanders did well. By reading headlines such as “Hillary Clinton Won” or “Clinton in Control,” the audience assumes Clinton won, and therefore Sanders lost. Phrasing opinions as facts has historically allowed media to influence politics.

The function of any form of media is to relay information to the people. Thus, the media has the onus of providing information that is pure and unbiased. To many, this was not the case in the post-debate headlines. According to the Natural Bureau of Economics, “70 percent of Americans believe that there is either a great deal or a fair amount of media bias in news coverage.”

We see this bias manifest not only from the post-debate headlines but also from the overall coverage of the debate. CNN and MSNBC conveniently decided to cut out Bernie Sander’s attack on the media after he defended Clinton and her emails.

With all this happening, it seems fair to say that CNN is biased toward Clinton. The argument becomes stronger when one realizes Time Warner Cable, the parent company of CNN, is the seventh largest donor to the Clinton campaign. When Americans read this information on social media and notice its omission in traditional media sources, they feel that politics is ultimately corrupt. Oftentimes, this idea of the government being corrupted leads to political apathy and lower voter turnouts, therefore limiting the effects of democracy.

With such bias in the media, there seems little we Americans can do other than actively search for the truth. Instead of forming opinions based on superficial, biased headlines, the American people must go to a variety of sources that both confirm and deny their initial opinions. Political education is the only solution to deterring the sphere of political bias.

Syed is a biochemistry freshman from Houston.