Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Media Bias, 2010 Elections

Since we're having to skip over some of the material in Chapter 15 ("The Media"), and since we're coming up on Election Day 2010, I thought the topic of Media Bias would be a good one for our next blog discussion.

With 24-hour TV cable news, talk radio, newspapers, magazines, and of course the Internet, there is a tremendous amount more that fits under the category of "The Media" than there was even 10-15 years ago, and it's certainly unrealistic to think all (or even most) of it is always going to be completely objective in how it presents the news, but what people see, read, and hear (and FROM WHOM they see, read, and hear it) is going to have a HUGE impact on their ideas and their opinions.

But WHERE exactly is the bias? And how exactly does it manifest itself? The reality is that anyone may see bias if a story is presented with a viewpoint different from their own, but since the media is becoming an ever-increasing part of our daily lives, it's still very important to examine it in more detail AND TO TRY TO BE AS OBJECTIVE AS POSSIBLE WHILE DOING SO!

First, you're going to do a little reading. The title link above (where it says "Media Bias, 2010 Elections") will take you to a 'Google Docs' screen with an article that will present both sides of the debate: one claiming that there is a bias in the media toward the liberal point of view, and the other claiming that there is a bias in the media that leans toward the conservative point of view.

After you read those few pages, please click on the links below to watch some video. The first one is about a 15-minute clip from the "Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. Ms. Maddow does not make any effort to hide her liberal views and she is not shy about criticizing Republicans, but I found this clip particularly interesting because, as a liberal, she is criticizing the media for being biased toward Republicans in their coverage of the upcoming midterm elections.

The second link below is an 8-minute segment from the "Sean Hannity Show" on Fox News, with Mr. Hannity interviewing Karl Rove, who was the chief political strategist for President Bush. This is a good clip because it addresses (from a very conservative viewpoint, of course) many of the issues that have arisen with negative advertising in this election season. It will also tie in nicely with our discussion in class about the financing of political campaigns and who it is that pays for commercials and contributes to candidates.

The final clip is also from Fox News, this one a 6-minute clip from "The O'Reilly Factor." The host, Bill O'Reilly is interviewing conservative commentator Bernard Goldberg, and this clip will provide an interesting counterpoint to the Maddow clip, because while they also discuss the media being critical of President Obama and the Democrats, they begin with the premise that this is unusual, and that normally the media has a decidedly liberal bias.




After reading the article and watching the video clips, answer these questions:
  • In the reading, which of the two sides did you find more convincing? Why? Were there ideas/arguments in either article (or both!) that you agreed/disagreed with? Which ones?
  • What were your thoughts on the Rachel Maddow video? Obviously you're just seeing her side of it, but do you agree with her overall point that the media has helped or been more favorable to Republicans in this election season?
  • What were your thoughts on the two Fox News videos? Even though you may not have all the context if you haven't been paying as much attention to the media covering politics as O'Reilly's or Hannity's primary audience, what did you think of Mr. Rove's response to the charges made against him in that DNC ad? Did you agree with Mr. Goldberg's comments on the media's treatment of President Obama and the Democrats? Why/why not?

Remember, your first post should be answers to the above questions, and then sometime later, after having read what your classmates have said, please post another comment in response to one of your classmates. Both of your comments need to be posted by the end of the day on Wednesday, October 27. Have fun--I look forward to reading your comments!