The Mainstream Media Might Have a Fake News Problem

Jackson Budwell, Guest Contributor

The Mainstream Media (MSM) appears to have a credibility problem, an issue that can largely be traced back to bias and fake news. It is surprising that influential companies, such as CNN, Fox, or ABC, would knowingly or unknowingly publish fake news, but it is increasingly happening at an alarming rate.

“It’s inevitable that media outlets will make mistakes on complex stories,” writes Glenn Greenwald, who is part of The Intercept. “If that’s being done in good faith, one would expect the errors would be roughly 50/50 in terms of the agenda served by the false stories. That is most definitely not the case here.”

Most publications have a bias, but when the bias begins to be weaponized, that’s a big problem.

In what Greenwald calls, “one of the most humiliating spectacles in the history of the U.S. media,” CNN knowingly or unknowingly falsely reported that, then candidate, Donald Trump had received advance access to a Wikileaks report. If the story had been true, the Trump campaign would have broken campaign law.

There also seems to be a bias against Russia.

Rachel Maddow, an anchor on MSNBC, Greenwald notes, once infamously reported – without any evidence – that Russia had hacked into Vermont’s electrical grid during the winter.

Greenwald is just one of many journalists who are now increasingly calling out the MSM on fake news.

Another such journalist is James O’Keefe, the head of Project Veritas, an independent group that works to expose fake news with undercover journalism. Project Veritas is well known for bombshell reporting, but has been accused of selective editing in the past. Recently, Project Veritas showed that CNN has a large bias stemming from Jeff Zucker, the CEO; while not directly fake news, a large bias contributes to an agenda of false stories.

“They [CNN] sold themselves to the Devil. It’s sad,” CNN floor manager Mike Brevna laments on camera.

Brevna, along with several others, was recorded by Project Veritas in hot-mic settings – situations where the individual isn’t aware of being recorded. Project Veritas had sent undercover journalists to CNN, asked questions to staffers, and then reported on the results.

Patrick Davis, the field manager of operations at CNN was recorded saying, “And you learn it in journalism school, we’re supposed to be middle of the road, that’s our job. Now it’s just infotainment is all it’s become. There is no true media news outlet.”

The conservative right has also been under fire for fake news and bias. Fox News has been accused of bias in favor of President Trump by many news outlets.

As long as readers can spot fake news, and the bias which contributes to it, there really isn’t an issue; however, most readers can’t.

Glenn C. Altschuler, a professor and contributor for The Hill, writes,  “Fake news headlines, researchers have found, fool adults about three-quarters (75 percent) of the time.”

There is hope. Education and a healthy skepticism are steps readers should take to protect themselves. As Altschuler explains, “ all Americans should be encouraged to expose themselves to a variety of perspectives, to resist “clickbait,” and to think twice — or thrice — before hitting “like” or “share.”

(Jackson Budwell is a junior and guest contributor. Jackson is involved in conservative politics in Southern Illinois. At EHS he is the vice-president of Japanese Club, on the Boy’s Varsity Bowling Team and affiliated with the Young Republicans Club, Business Professionals of America, Debate Club, EPIC and Robotics. He plans to attend West Point Military Academy and serve in the military as an officer.)