I recently saw this bumper sticker. I’ve seen it before.
People often talk to me about bias in the media. Some complain Fox News Channel is too conservative. Others complain most other media outlets are too liberal.
When I reported on anti-war protests, some demonstrators assumed I disagreed with their views because I worked for a Fox station. A co-worker driving in a Fox vehicle told me how another driver gave him the finger.
Some people decided whether or not to give me an interview based on the fact I worked at a Fox station. I once covered a story on a man who accidentally discharged his gun at a gun show. After we parked our live truck at the facility hosting the show, someone told me the only reason he moved his vehicle to give us space was because we worked at Fox. Another man at the show later told us how the other networks are too liberal.
When I covered a story on a military base, someone who worked there joked how CNN stands for “Clinton News Network.”
Since leaving college, I worked at five TV stations. I don’t recall a manager or producer giving me orders for a story I considered politically biased. I figured local news is more focused on crime and weather, which usually isn’t politically linked, unless you believe bad storms always arrive from the left or right.
Behind the scenes, I knew which reporters were liberal, conservative or moderate. My co-workers who earned more money or were more religious tended to be conservative. The less religious co-workers and those making less money tended to be liberal. But some employees defied the trends. And some workers were fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
Most of the time, I didn’t see a reporter’s view revealed in his or her story. That may have changed somewhat when a station I worked at experimented with a talk show type format during one of the newscasts. Some viewers told me that some of the anchors in this format, perhaps inadvertently, began to show their true political colors.
If I felt a strong opinion about a story I covered, I worked extra hard to fairly represent the opposite side.
Yes, I’m sure some journalists are biased. Many talk show hosts are clearly liberal or conservative, although it’s debatable if these people are true journalists. And staking out strong opinions is in style. Fox and MSNBC hosts often take sides and while they do, their ratings appear to improve.
I personally haven’t experienced journalistic bias. But many viewers clearly see it, which clouds what facts are mixed with sprinkles of fiction. Some people see so much bias, they buy bumper stickers.