How do you consume news and obtain information about current events? Do you scroll through social media posts, turn on the television, peruse a magazine or newspaper, tune into the radio or download a smartphone app?
No matter what medium one uses, an individual is likely to find a handful of corporations have a stranglehold on politics, considering that six companies control 90 percent of all American media. These corporations often insert their biases when reporting news or discussing politics; MSNBC promotes liberal agendas while Fox News defends conservatives’ ideology. However, one issue that often flies under the radar is how corporate media fights tooth and nail to defend the political establishment.
CNN and MSNBC, for example, have found a new establishment candidate to support in the 2020 election. On Nov. 2, CNN ran a piece that compared Buttigeg to Obama, claiming the two are similar because they both “represent a fresh face and are calling for change.” Setting aside the fact that one could say the same about other candidates (namely Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang), Buttigeg is leading the early polls in Iowa, meaning he is on the path to becoming a frontrunner.
However, corporate media was oddly silent when Buttigeg’s campaign was caught faking black support. Buttigeg has struggled to gain black voters’ support, so his campaign released the Douglass Plan to try and gain African Americans’ favor. Allegedly, several hundred black South Carolinians and three prominent members in the African American community supported the plan. Shockingly, the Intercept reports that only one of the three leaders – Tameika Divine – has endorsed the plan. The other two – Ivory Thigpen and Johnnie Cordero – do not support the Douglass Plan. Thigpen has endorsed Bernie Sanders, and Cordero is no longer listed as an endorser.
Even more troubling is at least 42 percent of the “endorsers” are white, not African American. Call me crazy, but you don’t need white people to sign their support for a plan that’s explicitly meant to help African Americans. But of course, you didn’t hear CNN or MSNBC criticizing Buttigeg’s campaign for faking support. In fact, the MSNBC moderators decided to throw Buttigeg softballs instead of grilling him in the fifth democratic debate. It is clear that mainstream media wishes to give Buttigeg the frontrunner status without any of the scrutiny, revealing their centrist, establishment biases.
Fortunately, new media platforms have begun to challenge mainstream news outlets. Radio show hosts like Kyle Kulinski and David Pakman deliver news and commentary, but with a leftist perspective. Now, independent media outlets have their own biases as Kulinski and Pakman identify as social democrats. However, they cover stories that mainstream media often overlooks, and their perspectives can help the public see current events in a new light. But, by consuming both corporate and independent media, individuals can arm themselves with a wider range of facts and opinions to be more informed.
Corporate media doesn’t just skew narratives on the left. Fox News is just as guilty as CNN when it comes to defending the political establishment. Take Gordon Sondland’s testimony in the House impeachment inquiry. Fox tried to spin the ambassador’s testimony in a positive light even though Sondland acknowledged that there was a quid pro quo on Ukraine’s military aid. It is clear that Fox News will continue defending Trump just as vigorously as MSNBC attacks him.
But rewind to 2015. Before Trump became the establishment’s face, “drain the swamp” was one of his campaign’s cornerstones. Trump used to be the candidate that posed the greatest threat to the political establishment, and Fox News tried to take him down. Similar to how CNN is supporting Buttigeg while trying to smear Sanders, Fox praised Rubio while attempting to subvert Trump’s campaign. Trump’s war with Fox culminated with “boycotting” the media outlet and slamming Megyn Kelly and Bill O’ Reilly. Fox News’ sudden shift indicates that they are a shield for the establishment and are equally vitriolic to political outsiders on the right and the left.
Like leftist radio show hosts, there are also independent conservative media platforms. The Joe Rogan Experience operates similarly to the Kyle Kulinski Show, inviting guests to speak on issues, covering stories mainstream media fails to report, and providing commentary on current events. Of course, Rogan has his own biases, and he is up front with his opinions. However, consuming both Fox News and Rogan’s podcast can give individuals the wide range of information and points of view necessary to be informed and responsible citizens.
Is new media any less biased than mainstream outlets? No. And that’s why it is important to consume both. Watching only independent media will provide only a leftist or rightist perspective while corporate platforms will push centrist propaganda. So, next time you tune into CNN or Fox News, take a second and consider whether or not the hosts are telling you the full truth or are omitting some details to fit a corporatist, centrist narrative.