Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Is the Media Really Showing a Bias for Clinton and Against Trump?

We often hear references to the “liberal media”. Donald Trump, in particular, has made accusations against the “dishonest” and “liberal” media a hallmark of his campaign rhetoric, following up on years (or even decades) of similar attacks from Republicans generally. So let me pose a few questions regarding the alleged liberal bias of the media.

First, if the media does, indeed, have a liberal bias, why isn’t Jill Stein getting more airtime and coverage? Why isn’t she being asked to participate in the debates? Stein and the Green Party are well to the left of both Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, so why aren’t they the recipients of the liberal largesse of the media?

Second, if the media is, indeed, biased in favor of Clinton (and/or against Trump), why have we been hearing so much about her email “scandal” and about the Clinton Foundation? If the “liberal” media was “in the tank” for Clinton, then shouldn’t we expect to be told that these things are complete fabrications or non-issues rather than having them treated as serious issues worthy of discussion by hours and hours of talking heads and column inch after column inch of print reporting? For that matter, how many times have you heard the media refer to Clinton as being “disliked” or having “trust issues”? Again, if the “liberal media” were really trying to get her elected, then wouldn’t we be hearing the opposite?

Third, if the media was really biased against Trump (and/or for Clinton), then why haven’t we seen wall-to-wall news coverage of a scope similar to that paid to Clinton’s emails (or the Clinton Foundation or Benghazi or the Lewinsky affair, etc.) but focused, instead, on Trump’s controversies, such as:

  • the pending lawsuit against Trump alleging that he raped a 13-year-old girl;
  • that he perpetrated a fraud on thousands of people in the guise of “Trump University”;
  • that he (or his foundation) essentially bribed the Florida Attorney General to drop the investigation into Trump University;
  • that he has been linked over the years to the New York City mafia;
  • racial discrimination and tenant intimidation in his apartment projects;
  • racial discrimination in his casino employment practices;
  • hiring undocumented Polish workers to build Trump Tower, not providing them with appropriate safety gear, and paying them below minimum wage (if at all);
  • the claim by Ivana Trump, during their divorce proceedings, that he’d raped her;
  • the numerous fines that Trump had to pay when his casinos violated all sorts of laws;
  • his responsibility for causing the United States Football League to collapse (but remember, he’s a “great” businessman!);
  • other business deals that have gone bad leaving all sorts of lawsuits in their wake (not to mention the multiple bankruptcies of Trump businesses);
  • the repeated refusal to pay contractors for work that they’d performed on Trump properties;
  • Trump’s failed libel lawsuit against a reporter for, you know, reporting about the things that Trump had claimed;
  • marrying a woman who may have entered the country under false pretenses (thus making her an illegal immigrant);
  • Trump’s apparently hollow claims of charitable giving (which might be confirmed by his tax returns…); or
  • using his foundation’s charity money (given by others to the foundation, not by Trump himself) to purchase, at other charity auctions, a artwork and a collectible souvenir for Trump.

And the list goes on and on and on…

Similarly, a large part of his “appeal” is his claim to be a very successful businessman, yet how much time has the media spent really digging into and reporting upon just how “successful” he has really been and just how bad some of his business ventures were (e.g., Trump Shuttle, Trump steaks, Trump Magazine, or condo hotels, to name just a few)? How much money have investors in his projects lost? How many contractors have been stiffed? How many fines has he paid? Hoosier voters might want to remind themselves about Trump’s broken promises to Indiana investors and broken promises to provide charitable funding when he wanted a casino in Gary. Ask yourself this: What might we learn if the “liberal” media spent even 10% of the time and effort that they’ve spent investigating Clinton’s emails to investigate Trump’s scandals?

And though this is slightly off topic, I do want to take a quick look at point for which Trump is receiving criticism but for which, I suspect, Clinton would get far, far more criticism were she to make a similar comment. Over the last few months, Trump has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin. Even many Republicans have been uncomfortable with that praise and Trump’s seeming refusal to recognize that Putin is running a repressive regime that is willingly to assassinate political opponents and invade neighboring countries. But consider what the response might be were Clinton to make a statement praising Raul Castro or … well, almost any other leader of a country with whom we have a tense relationship?. What would the reaction have been if Clinton talked about how “strong” Putin was? We’d be hearing screaming about a “weak” woman being intimidated by a strong man, wouldn’t we?

Now, I’m not suggesting that some (even many) reporters are not, themselves, liberals or Democrats. But I would argue that because of that many feel that they need to bend over backwards to prove that they are not biased and, in so doing, evidence a sort of reverse bias. In any event, don’t simply accept the narrative or accusation that the media is biased for Clinton or against Trump. Rather, consider the full scope of information being provided and think for yourself whether the candidates are being treated equally.

And please, please don’t let Donald Trump become President of the United States.

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