A recent report published by the Associated Press has suggested that the majority of Americans feel that the media has had a negative impact on both democracy and political polarization across the country. Americans are much more likely to conclude that the media is doing more harm than good.
The report is based on a survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. The survey went on to suggest that approximately three-quarters of adults in the US feel that the news media is increasing political fissures, with roughly half of Americans suggesting that they have no confidence in the media’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately.
One of the biggest concerns for Americans is the prevalence of misinformation, spearheaded by media companies, politicians, and the social media platforms that share it with the rest of the world, per the AP.
However, there are also those who are concerned about the safety of journalists who may feel compelled to report or release information that does not shed a positive light on the powers that be. Edward Snowden immediately comes to mind.
The latest example of this is when Jack Teixeira, a former National Guardsman, leaked classified documents about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. There are clearly powers that would rather this information not be released to the public, namely the Biden administration and mainstream media outlets that have a stake in the success of the current administration.
These documents appear to suggest that there are Americans who are directly engaging in combat with Russian soldiers, which, if true, constitutes a crime, as war cannot be declared without the approval of Congress.
It appears that the survey primarily focused on Americans’ approval of the mainstream media. The AP reported that this loss of faith and confidence in the mainstream media could mean that people will start turning to “social media and unreliable websites that spread misleading claims and that can become partisan echo chambers.”
However, how many independent news outlets have been sued for $250 million for defamation? The Washington Post was sued for this much in 2020 over the Covington debacle, and CNN was sued for $275 million for the flaw-ridden reporting of the same incident. And Fox News recently settled with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million, making it the largest defamation settlement to date. It is clear that the mainstream media can be very unreliable.
The report stated that 4 in 10 Americans say the press is doing more to harm democracy, with 2 in 10 saying it is doing more to improve it, and an additional 4 in 10 said that neither option applies. Overall, Republicans have a more negative view of the news media than Democrats, with the AP reporting that 61 percent of Republicans suggest that they believe the media is a detriment, while only 23 percent of Democrats believe so.
Republicans also believe that the news has come under the influence of the US government and the personal political views of journalists. The US government’s apparent involvement in influencing Twitter before Elon Musk took over appears to endorse Republicans’ sentiment. Now, there are Democratic figures who have called into question the journalistic profession because journalists are reporting on what they do not find favorable.
The coronavirus pandemic also resulted in skepticism of the mainstream media, with virtually every liberal media outlet claiming that it was racist and untrue that the virus could have come from a lab in Wuhan, which has now become the prevailing opinion of some federal agencies. Political personalities and scientists were consistently censored on Twitter and demeaned in the public eye for suggesting that the lab leak theory was possible when the pandemic first broke out.
Americans have a good reason to be skeptical of the mainstream media, as it has, time and again, failed to fully report what is true and remain skeptical in the absence of complete information.
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