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Liberals, Watch Fox News, Conservatives, Watch MSNBC MAG
I know exactly what you’re thinking. Watch Fox News? I don’t want to pollute my mind with Trump propaganda! At least, that’s the general mindset about Fox News for liberals and progressives. However, most conservatives don’t have very positive opinions about MSNBC either, especially if you agree with President Trump’s political views. It’s definitely a tripwire when you have so many sources of information with different tilts yet Fox News, CNN and MSNBC are the second, fourth and fifth most watched news channels in the world. The question both parties have is, why should we watch news that we don’t want to? That question in itself is a problem. In this polarized political climate, the American people have been feeding the trolls of partisanship even more. According to NBC, that’s something both sides can agree on. However, neither side is willing to give up their fight. They keep persisting and tuning out any other views besides their own and others like them. Americans become so involved in our own beliefs that we forget that there is another side, there is always another opinion. As we all know, political fights can get ugly and quickly.
As Senator-Elect Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) put it in her victory speech, politicians have ended up resorting to “name-calling, petty personal attacks and doing and saying whatever it takes just to get elected.” Democrats and Republicans blame each other for the toxic political climate and America is on a swirling downward spiral. Polarization of this magnitude is deadly, but luckily the country isn’t far enough down this dangerous path for all hope to be lost. Fixing this is possible; the ideal first step in doing that is understanding the other side. If you’re a Trump supporter, chances are that you will vehemently disagree with what is being said on MSNBC. The same is true if you’re a dedicated Bernie Sanders fan and you turn on Fox News.
If liberals and conservatives turn on news networks with a different political tilt, both sides can gain perspectives on issues that they may have never considered.
Looking back at the guest lineup for a day in October, for example, “Hannity” (the most popular cable news show on Fox News) and the MSNBC equivalent, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” follow an interesting trend. Sean Hannity’s guests that night were Eric Trump, Newt Gingrich, Sara Carter and Michelle Malkin. Eric Trump is President Trump’s son, who is a Republican. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) is a former Republican Speaker of the House as well as an avid Trump supporter. Sara Carter is an investigative reporter and a Fox News contributor who identifies as a Republican and lastly, Michelle Malkin is a conservative blogger and political commentator. All of Sean Hannity’s guests identified as Republican. Guests on “The Rachel Maddow Show” included Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, who provides extensive commentary on the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling and its ties to the Trump campaign, a topic that conservatives consider to be a “witch hunt.” Jeremy Bash, the other guest that night, is a former CIA chief of staff and was the national security issues director for the 2000 Al Gore – Joe Lieberman campaign. The similarity between the two guests is that they both have liberal leanings.
Political tilts like this go beyond “Hannity” and “The Rachel Maddow Show;” they’re prevalent in our media. According to Adfontesmedia, MSNBC and Fox News are clearly showcasing a sense of bias. MSNBC is considered a clearly liberal leaning network and Fox News is an obvious conservative leaning network. While there are certainly worse examples of bias (websites like InfoWars and Patribotics come to mind), using a tilted news source as your only source gives you a warped view of the world.
While you could just read several unbiased news sources, the best way for those unwilling to stop watching the news they’re used to get a balanced view is to watch a variety of sources with tilts across the political spectrum.
News networks are becoming safe havens for people with certain views and if the networks won’t change, the viewers have to. The guests all have a leaning towards the tilt of the network itself and that limits the variety of perspectives viewers have access to. If the only point of view you hear is the one you agree with, healthy and beneficial debate isn’t possible. If you don’t know the full story, how can you form an opinion about it?
There is a common concern when it comes to our media: How do I know if that source is credible? Credibility is always called into question whenever a story comes out that we don’t agree with. A politician we agree with is going through a scandal that our opponents thrive off of but we willfully tune it out and listen to the policies. Part of understanding our world is absorbing information that we don’t want to hear. Let’s say that Person A and Person B live in Mississippi and anticipating the Senate runoff we experienced last fall. Person A supports incumbent Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Person B supports Mike Espy.
At this point, everyone has watched the videos of Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments on lynching and voter suppression. Were they jokes? Depends on who you ask, but people have taken offense to the comments and a number of companies, including Walmart, have withdrawn their support for her campaign. While Senator Hyde-Smith is going through a national scandal, Mike Espy doesn’t have a squeaky clean record either.
According to The Washington Post, Espy served as the Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration. However, he resigned after it was revealed that he had been receiving extravagant gifts and was misusing government perks. He resigned in 1994, was charged in 1997 but was acquitted on all 30 charges. Even though this occurred 20 years ago, his past conduct in Washington is something to keep in mind. The media pounced on Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments but Mike Espy’s scandal in the Clinton administration is a distant memory when other politicians have had to suffer because of their previous conduct. My point is, we need a thorough analysis of our candidates for elected office and given the nature of tilted networks, we can get a full picture by absorbing information from different sources.
Different news networks catch on different stories and a good majority of them are significant. For example, MSNBC (Rachel Maddow, specifically) was the first major news network to report on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and Fox News is the main network that has been warning people about Antifa, a violent extremist group. Regardless of perspective, more news stories come to the attention of viewers which forces them to consider some opposition ideas and arguments. Healthy, informed debate is what we need right now. If we expand our news bubble, we become more informed citizens without even knowing it.
Politicians on both sides are fully capable of doing dodgy deals and when they make errors (sometimes, fatal ones), they need to be held accountable. News networks have a tendency to trash the other side and if the network won’t change, the viewer will have to temporarily turn on the other channel to get the full picture.
The controversial Steele dossier is what liberals believe will hold Trump and his campaign accountable who what they believe to be prosecutable crimes. However, Democratic politicians aren’t innocent, law abiding angels either. We’ve all heard about former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email server. MSNBC dedicated a lot of airtime to the Steele dossier and the Mueller investigation. If it is true that the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, the campaign needs to be held accountable. On the other hand, Fox News focused on the private server for countless hours as they believed it was against the law. If having a private email server as a government official is a criminal offence, then Secretary Clinton needs to be held accountable.
It isn’t easy to listen to a variety of news sources for our information, it and can’t be done overnight, but viewers should make an effort to watch different networks and read other websites rather than sticking to their usual one source. That way, no crooked politician gets off Scot-free and we truly know what’s going on in our world.
Liberals, I know you probably don’t believe a word you hear on Fox News but hear them out. There are some ideas and arguments they have that you’ve never considered because you’ve stayed in your news bubble. Conservatives, you probably don’t trust any other media besides Fox News and you’ve probably heard enough about the Russia investigation, but like the liberals, you need to put your own personal feelings aside and listen to what they have to say. Moving forward, if both sides of the aisle check in with news sources that have a different tilt to them, not only can potential voters be given multiple perspectives on the same issue, there is another advantage. If a politician on either side steps out of line, the bright, burning spotlight of the media will hold them accountable. Finally, we become more well-informed citizens on a multitude of issues besides the ones that a single news source tends to highlight. With small steps like these, perhaps healthy debate can make a comeback.