Monday, June 05, 2017

Biased Press

There have been scores of recent articles decrying the bias of the press against Donald Trump.  As proof they compare the percentage of negative articles written about Trump during these first months of his presidency vs. the percentage of negative articles written about other presidents.  Regardless of the veracity of those numbers, the argument falls down for two reasons or at the very least requires significantly more investigation before those numbers really mean anything.

The first is that while there clearly are news outlets with bias (Fox News is clearly one, but so is MSNBC), as a general rule, the news media is biased towards the sensational.  In a world where they compete with the internet and truly fake news, they look for the sensational to catch the attention of an audience.  Whatever one thinks about Donald Trump, he pours out the sensational each and every day.  Stories that under normal circumstances would be front page - the attack by the Turkish president's  body guards on US citizens on a Washington DC street - barely get any mention because there simply isn't room.   It can be argued that the overwhelming coverage of his campaign by the mainstream press was the equivalent of millions of dollars worth of free advertising and clearly contributed to his winning.  Donald is always on the news because he is always doing something sensational.

Now, this leads to the real question... how many of those sensational actions of DT are negative?  If one president does 50 negative things while andother does 100, doesn't it make sense that the second one would have  twice the negative articles?  If one acomplishes three major legislative intitiatives while another accomplishes 1, doesn't it make sense that the first one would get 3X's the positive press?  So, does DT do 40% more negative things than did a given previous president?  I would argue, "yes."  I'd be hard pressed to come up with anything I could point to as a positive thing done by the current administration  and the negatives roll off the tongue.  From everything that I can see, reality has a negative take on DT's administration.

One might argue that the reason that is so is because I am a stooge for the mainstream news, the "enemy."  Actually, my local paper (which I do read) is one of only two I believe that endorsed Trump for president.  If there is a biased outlet, it is that one and it is clearly pro-Trump.  I do read some articles in the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian online but I am aware of what the "other side" is saying.

Clearly I am not pro-Trump.  My avatar on Facebook still says "resist" and will until this administration and the spineless Republican legislators who keep putting power before country are gone.  I was never one willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because I agreed with almost nothing he promised during his campaigns and find him as a person utterly with redeeming qualities.  That does not stop me from acknowledging that the rise in the stock market increased after his election (maybe a good thing).  The point is that if I saw something that looked positive, I think I could grudgingly agree it was there. 

Nope... the press is not biased against Trump nor are they out to get him.  He simply is an easy target who keeps doing  ridiculously stupid things.  As long as that continues... that is what we will see in the news.

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