promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

The illusion of media objectivity and the illusion of media partisanship PART I

In media on November 4, 2009 at 1:37 am

The recent “feud” between Fox News and the White House is more than a little ridiculous. Everyone, save the few Texans still driving around with “Viva Bush!” bumper stickers, realize that Fox News is really Fox Opinion.

By attacking Fox News, the White House is only furthering the myth that the mainstream media is or should be unbiased. But should the news really be fair and balanced?

Charleston City paper’s Jack Hunter and author of the blog, The Southern Avenger, points out that Fox News has never been “ ‘objective journalism,’ but neither is MSNBC, CNN, or every other corporate outlet that disseminates politically-biased disinformation.”

In his recent post, Hunter argues against The Myth of Objective Journalism and actually advocates the use of bias, opinionated journalism. He points out that:

“Before the 20th century, people got their information from newspapers that were explicitly Whig or Tory, Democrat or Republican, and which would engage in nakedly partisan public battles, leaving objectivity to the mind of the reader. Newspapers served the political and corporate interests of those who owned them and everyone knew it.”

Hunter goes on to declare that “There can be no true objective journalism because there are no truly objective human beings.”

Hunter is correct that news can never be truly bias free as it’s told by bias reporters and editors. Deciding what stories run, what their headlines are, and what content is included in them all reflect the personal opinions of the editors and reporters. But does that mean the media shouldn’t at least try to be fair and balanced? I’m not so sure.

Hunter points to the liberal Noam Chomsky who “has argued that the illusion of media objectivity has led to major news outlets becoming the instruments of government and corporate interests rather than society’s watchdogs, investigative journalism’s alleged purpose.”

In Hunter and Chomsky’s opinion, this illusion has served to further the agendas of the powerful — whether it be those in Washington D.C. or in the boardroom. However, the real question is whether or not the illusion is intentional.

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