National media has lost public's trust

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sen. John McCain has become the face of the internal GOP opposition to many of the programs and policy proposals by newly-elected President Donald Trump.

But McCain's push back should come as no surprise. The Arizona senator has never embraced Trump starting early in the campaign.

McCain was on one of the countless Sunday morning political gabfests and made what I believe is a feeble attempt to defend the national media for its one-sided coverage of the new administration.

McCain told the interviewer that though he "hates" the media, "we need a free press. We must have it. If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. Without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time."

No one would argue the point that McCain makes. Of course this nation must have a free press and the Senator is right, without that basic freedom we would eventually see our personal liberties eroded.

But the issue today - and perhaps missed by the senior senator from Arizona - is not press freedom but rather press bias.

The national opinion of the media has reached its lowest favorability rating in history. Regardless of your political persuasion, it's easy to see biased, one-sided and misleading coverage of our current political landscape.

Yet in the past - or so it seems - the American public believed that the media's opinions were reserved in a place aside from its news coverage.

The lines between opinion and news coverage are so blurred today to make it unrecognizable.

If indeed there is a growing threat to press freedom, it stems not from the Trump administration. The threat lies within the national media who have decided to combine opinion and news into one tidy package and "guide" their audience to the "right" conclusion.

Anyone with even a passing understanding of American politics knows that news coverage can and has been tilted in one direction or another over the years to reflect the opinions of those providing that coverage.

But that "swayed" coverage was always the hidden secret within the media world.

Now there is no longer a pretense of fairness. The gloves are off and the battle is waged.

Like it or not, Trump's drumbeat of "fake news" resonates with a public tired of broken promises and insider dealing.

McCain's right. This nation must have a free press as an essential buffer between those in power and the American public.

But equally important to that press freedom is the expectation of honesty and fairness and even-handed coverage regardless of the personal views and opinions of those bringing us that coverage.

Press freedom is not at stake. What's at stake is the questionable future of a media cartel hellbent on opposing policies that run counter to their personal held beliefs.

And despite repeatedly pointing the finger of blame at the Trump administration, the media has no one to blame but themselves.

Michael Jensen

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