A few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, most media experts predicted a crushing victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Election forecasters, including but certainly not limited to the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, and the Huffington Post, put Clinton’s chances of winning at anywhere from 70 percent to 99 percent, and made her the heavy favorite to win states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Of course, they were all horribly wrong, as Trump won those states and the Oval Office. This prompted the Pew Research Center to ask “Did we all believe Clinton would win because of bad data, or did we ignore good data because we believed Clinton would win?”
Or perhaps there is a better to question to ask.
Is it possible that a bias against Trump within the media was so influential, that it corrupted the minds of thousands of experts and let their own personal political vendettas affect their professional predictions?
The answer is undeniably yes.
According to FiveThirtyEight, ideological clustering in top newsrooms led to groupthink. “As of 2013, only 7 percent of [journalists] identified as Republicans,” Nate Silver wrote in March, chiding the press for its political homogeneity. The same piece also specifies that two-thirds of all TV anchors lean left, and that 96 percent of media outlet political donations in 2016 went to Clinton.
Just after the election, Steve Bannon savaged the press on the same point but with a heartier vocabulary. “The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with this country,” Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no fucking idea what’s going on.”
Undeniably, this personal bias translated into the information broadcasted by these networks, whether that be written or on the air, outlets with opinionated journalists became full-fledged propaganda machines, not bothering to present any fair or balanced points of view.
But the media bubble is not solely psychological, it's also geographical. As newspapers increasingly fall in the face of Internet media over the last decade, so have their jobs, which were until now spread evenly across the country, with almost each town having local news outlets. But it is not the same case for online publishing jobs. Today, 73 percent of all Internet publishing jobs are concentrated in either the Boston-New York-Washington-Richmond corridor or the West Coast crescent that runs from Seattle to San Diego. This means that more than half of all publishing employees work in counties that Clinton won by 30 percentage points or more.
Conclusion? The distribution of newspaper and online publishing jobs has grown less representative of the nation as a whole. The entire spectrum of opinions of the public is no longer rightfully represented in the media, and very few viewers and listeners actually fully adhere to the leftist platforms put forth by such outlets.
Take the New York Times for example, arguably the most influential news source in the country, and yet not a single Trump supporter is on its editorial board. How is one supposed to expect grounded and balanced viewpoints in such a climate?
This is but the tip of a bias extremely well-documented and often responsible for many discrepancies of opinions both on the screen, on the radio, and on the page.
Outlets such as CNN are particularly guilty of filtering opinions, because they only invite Trump supporters on air a vast minority of the time. And when a well-spoken right-leaning individual is on air, (for this, I invite you to witness it for yourself), they are often not given as much time to properly explain their views as their left-leaning counterparts are, and sometimes are treated with the utmost disrespect.
But of course, this monopoly on public thought and vendetta against right-leaning opinions is not only present in mass media outlets, but also in the omnipresent and rather new form of information spreading known as social media.
It is now widely acknowledged that through various web platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, a particular string of ideas or individuals are not especially welcome.
Right-leaning platforms tend to be more scrutinized and susceptible to attacks or even censorship. Conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ Twitter has long been silenced by Twitter itself in reaction to presumed “hate speech.”
On the video viewing behemoth that is YouTube, conservative outlet Prager University, a hallmark for sensible, diverse, and rational opinions whether you agree with them or not, has had their videos banned or taken down for fear of the same.
Not only is this a disgrace in regards to the interdiction of a specific opinion and the censorship of diversity of thought, but it is very clearly politically-motivated. As the famed writer Christopher Hitchens once said: "Every time you silence someone you make yourself a prisoner of your own action because you deny yourself the right to hear something."
And that is exactly what these outlets and platforms are guilty of doing, pushing a political narrative while at the same time censoring differing views in order for their political equivalents to prosper. This makes it intrinsically hard for any free-thinking individual with the wish to gather reliable news and form sensible opinions based on unadulterated facts.
Louis Sarkozy is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a student in philosophy and religion at New York University. He is the youngest son of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
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