Tag: Fox News

What Really Motivates the Media?

Thomas Calabro | United States

The media is probably one of the most politically powerful entities in the US. This unique group can reveal dark secrets, spin stories for deceptive purposes, or blatantly lie to create emotional backlash against an event. Their social status puts them in a position where they are not only respected, but their claims are immediately revered as truths. This special status distorts any skepticism of the press as threats against the media as well as our very own democracy. Any person who wishes to challenge the media is automatically a tyrant, who wishes to keep their operations a secret from the public.

This is not a support for taking away the rights of the press, nor is it supporting strong central figure to destroy the media for exposing bad policies, unnecessary military conflicts, and his/her lies to the people. The media does play a role in preventing authoritarians from using fear-mongering tactics to suppress liberty, to engage in war, and to obtain more influence. Without a free press we would not we might not know of our atrocious policies, military conflicts, and much more. But one can support the media while also having some skepticism towards this institution’s claims.

This leaves me with the question: What is the motivation inside the media? Is it a desire to provide information to all, and truly stop tyrants? Is it an evil inclination to deceive the pubic to fall in line with their own personal biases? What drives those with such power to go out and write stories about the world, or engage in a hilarious confrontation with the president?

Personal Biases

We all have some sort of bias in our minds and our hearts. From how we were raised, to what we’ve experienced, and even what morals we follow, we can look at the world and see it differently from others. These biases can be so strong that it is obvious where the writer/pundit is trying to lead the audience. Someone who has a political agenda, such as those from past administrations, or supporters for the opposition party, can find the spin that can make a story support their own beliefs.

However these biases can also be very minute, as well as difficult to spot. The biased person may not even notice their bias, but can find themselves following these deep-seeded inclinations. This could be exposure to some phenomenon, or the acceptance of some beliefs as factual, instead of arguable. It could be poor experiences with authority that may not seem significant at first glance but can still impact how one looks at any kind of established authority.

Historical Preservation

With a media as powerful as today’s, many argue that such a force has the ability to take down powerful figures, especially the President. This in turn gives media figures a special place in history as fighting corruption, removing a President, or preserving democracy. The obvious example is the Watergate scandal, which both uplifts and destroys the media’s role in the impeachment/resignation of President Richard Nixon. While we generally see the media as essential in uncovering Watergate, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as important for their work, many argue, as well as Woodward himself, that we should not “overemphasize” the press’ power.

To say that the press brought down Nixon, that’s horseshit,” he says. “The press always plays a role, whether by being passive or by being aggressive, but it’s a mistake to overemphasize (the role of the media)” – Robert Woodward

Of course, without Woodward and Bernstein, the Watergate story would’ve either been hidden forever, or lost public interest as it developed. It is possible that many may wish to become the next Bob Woodward, exposing corruption, creating buzz, and creating a name that will last throughout history. Even if Woodward is right about the media’s actual role, sociologist Michael Schudson thinks it doesn’t matter, that the myth of the media’s role makes the media far more powerful and respected.

A mythology of the press in Watergate developed into a significant national myth, a story that independently carries on a memory of Watergate even as details about what Nixon did or did not do fade away. At its broadest, the myth of journalism in Watergate asserts that two young Washington Post reporters brought down the president of the United States. This is a myth of David and Goliath, of powerless individuals overturning an institution of overwhelming might. It is high noon in Washington, with two white-hatted young reporters at one end of the street and the black-hatted president at the other, protected by his minions. And the good guys win. The press, truth its only weapon, saves the day.” – Michael Schudson Watergate in American Memory

Regardless, the media’s past is one of a powerful entity, one that can also preserve our names if we expose dictators and make significant changes in political climates.

Pandering Press

Every ideology has their own group that supports their stances, and worships their heroes for defending their cause. They also have their super villains to fight against. This creates a demand for stories, data, and opinions that promote their views and beliefs by telling the story they want to hear. A great example is the left-leaning sites that claim Senator Sanders influenced Jeff Bezos’ wage hike. The audience wants their hero to defeat, or even outsmart their villain, will rejoice anyone who panders to them.

The Truth Seekers

Obviously, even if you have a negative view of the mainstream media, there are some out there who truly want to spread information and make a difference. They can expose problematic policies, sad stories, and horrific tales, as well as uplifting stories about the good in the world. They will rely on facts, listen to the reality we live in, and let the people know what goes on in our world.

Regardless of the media’s specific motivation, we find ourselves struggling to grasp on to truth and knowledge without getting caught up in the hysterics. The best approach to look at the news is to have a certain skepticism until enough research can support claims made. This will not only create a sense of responsibility, but can help one look objectively at the world around them, and focus on the facts, not the deceptions.

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Did Hungary Really Just Ban Gender Studies?

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

On October 17th, Fox News released a stunning headline. It read, “Hungary bans gender studies because it is ‘an ideology not a science'”. The article prompted vast social media responses, both positive and negative. Some proponents declared that the Euroskeptic nation is moving away from the liberal policies of the EU. On the other hand, others declared that this was going against the desires and interests of many Hungarian students.

In the heated discussions, there was one thing missing: the facts. The thing is, the Fox headline, as well as many other news headlines on the subject, got it all wrong: Hungary is not banning gender studies at all.

A Shaky Headline

Looking at the headline instantly brings about a fair degree of suspicion about its validity. Colleges all throughout the world teach many things besides sciences. In many cases, such courses do fall under the category of ideology. In fact, some, such as political theory, dedicate themselves solely to the study of ideology.

This calls into the question the validity of the Hungarian claim that the decree is due to ideology. At least, it proves a degree of hypocrisy on the part of the Hungarian government for only taking action towards one form of ideology. Yet, even their action against gender studies is quite limited.

Hungary’s New Gender Studies Policy

In reality, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban did sign a decree about gender studies. Effective October 13th, the government did remove federal funding and revoked approval for the master’s program. As such, students admittedly cannot currently sign up to take the program with federal funding.

However, they did not in any way address anything related to undergraduate gender studies. Moreover, the university insisted it will still teach the program to give both MA and Ph.D. degrees.

Further still, the decree did nothing to address gender studies in private schools and universities. There is a clear distinction between a ban and a removal of funding; the latter does not criminalize the act in question. Hungary, clearly, did not make it illegal for someone to practice gender studies. They furthermore will not be giving anyone a punishment for doing so. A lack of funding is not punishment; it is an inaction, not a negative action.

So, the claim, which Fox News, Independent, and many other organizations made, is false. Though the Hungarian government took away federal funding and support for gender studies, they did not do anything to prohibit its practice.

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Rand Paul Critical Of Trump Trade, NSA & Fed

Rand Paul recently suggested the United States is in grave danger if President Trump pursues a trade war. On Fox News yesterday, Paul outlined his criticism on Trump’s trade proposals.

“A tariff is a tax, and typically Republicans, conservatives, have not been for more taxes. So, I’m against new tariffs. They’re simply a tax on the consumer.” Paul stated. He went on to argue that the tariff plan is “the wrong thing to do.”

“If you look at steel use in our country, there are 60 people purchasing steel for every person making steel in the country. So, there’s a lot of people who purchase steel that are going to be hurt by this.” the Senator explained. “My state alone exports $20 billion worth of products, including a lot of farm and agricultural products. And if there’s a trade war, we stand to lose in a big way.”

Ironically, Trump signaled last week that he will seek to impose tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum. The President believes it will help him to recoup billions of dollars lost each year.

Paul also said he has spoken with Trump on government access to American’s personal information.

“I think that nobody — nobody in law enforcement — should be looking at American’s information without first getting a warrant. That’s what I fought for, and we’re very close to winning that battle, and getting the bill and getting reform for FISA.” Paul declared.

Later, the Senator raised the possibility of auditing the Federal Reserve. He mentioned an amendment he has recently added to the Senate Banking Bill.

“The Federal Reserve is incredibly powerful and what they’ve done for decades is to keep interest rates really low so government can keep borrowing and borrowing and borrowing money and that’s why we have this enormous twenty trillion dollar debt.” Paul said.

“When they keep interest rates low they prevent a useful signal from being distributed to the economy, and the economy gets into a boom and then ultimately a bust because of the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates and keeping them below the market rate.” Paul went on. “So I think the Federal Reserve ought to be audited I think their power needs to be restrained and I think we should try to maintain value in the dollar instead of trying to destroy the dollar.” the Senator wrapped up.

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Is There a Need for Unbiased News?

By Charlie Gengler | USA

During the 2016 presidential election, and Trump’s first year of his presidency, the lid on the media bias was blown open.  Conservatives, libertarians, and honest liberals all voicing their opposition to the bias, and for once they had a voice.  Fox News has long been known to harbor a strong conservative bias, but for a while, people were, perhaps willfully, ignorant of CNN’s, MSNBC’s, CNBC’s, etc.  Yet this raises an interesting question, is this actually a problem?

The majority would certainly say yes.  This is an obvious answer if you want factual reporting and not to have your news tainted with unnecessary opinions.  So we hold reporters to a high bar, a bar of honesty, rigorous research, and completely un-editorialized writing.  There’s only one problem with this, it cannot and will not work.  People have biases, and people will state them.  The vast majority of people in the news will, either intentionally or not, reveal where they stand, and by demanding unbiased news, you prevent them from doing that honestly.  You also have the problem of companies and profit.  When companies see that a large swath of their readers are of a particular political leaning, they will market and have their writers create for that particular party.  This is when you get the company-wide bias that you have with CNN and Fox and MSNBC and so on.  You even get this bias when the people you employ don’t have those same feelings about that subject.  Take Fox News for example, you have liberal employees, yet conservative television.  In Gavin McInnes’ video about his time contributing at Fox, 10 Secrets About Fox News (Now That I’ve Quit), he details how the employees, in general, are liberal saying, “who are we kidding, this building is in New York City these people aren’t conservative.”  And they certainly didn’t support the Republican candidate.  One last problem with this unachievable bar is accountability.  As news outlets expand, more editors are needed, and the once idealistic and strongly in control leaders and bosses, are pushed into more necessary jobs and have less control over their quality.

So what are our options here?  Clearly only highly capable, dedicated, and small news outlets can maintain their unbiased reporting, and even then, they probably won’t last very long.  You can abandon honesty and integrity altogether (quantity over Quality?) and just go for profit.  You can write short and uninteresting articles with little to say, giving your competition a leg up.  Or you can state your biases, let them be known and heard, and then let your consumers read, watch, think with a critical mind.  This is something newer, more internet based websites have been doing.  They let it be known that they are prejudiced to one side or the other and then let their audiences decide if they can handle that.

This is the way of the new generation.  People can accept your news with a grain of salt, the market will decide what stays.  They’re popping up all over the web, and youtube channels of the same nature have been, and are getting more, popular for years.  This has lead to a news renaissance of sorts, with liberals and conservatives stating the facts, and then giving their take.  The most popular form of this is probably the website-wide political consensus, that way your readers don’t have to be superfans and keep track of all the writers’ opinions.

It is clear that editorials will no longer be left in the background, that political commentary will take center stage.  But take warning, your facts must be straight and you must not be lazy in your research.  You must hear both sides, lest you trap yourself in an echo chamber, polarizing yourself from the opposite side.