With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and control of both the Senate and the House, Republicans are no doubt anxious to begin implementing their agenda within the new administration’s first 100 days. From repealing Obamacare, to securing the southern border, to nominating a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 2017 promises to be a whirlwind of activity on Capitol Hill. After 8 years of Obama there is much that needs to be done.
What we also need are Congressional hearings into the ongoing and blatant bias of the television news media.
A recent poll showed that trust in the media has dropped to an all time low, with only 6% of those surveyed having “a lot of confidence” in the press. What’s more, Gallup has demonstrated how that mistrust mirrors party affiliation, with both Republican voters and Independents significantly more skeptical of the media than Democrats.
Throughout the campaign media bias was on full display, often with little effort made to even fake impartiality. The “traditional” news media (CBS, NBC, CNN, the New York Times) unabashedly employed advocacy journalism in place of objective reporting.
Thanks to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks we learned of the collaboration between the media and the Democratic National Committee. From emails back and forth between the DNC and reporters such as Chuck Todd of NBC and Jake Tapper of CNN, to long time Democratic operative and CNN analyst Donna Brazile leaking debate questions to the Clinton campaign in advance, Americans discovered that the press wasn’t playing fair.
However, the bias isn’t simply limited to these high profile examples of collusion, but also impacts the very stories covered by the news media, and how they portray the candidates themselves. As one media watchdog group reported last month:
“In the twelve weeks since the party conventions concluded in late July, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has received significantly more broadcast network news coverage than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, but nearly all of that coverage (91%) has been hostile, according to a new study by the Media Research Center (MRC).
“In addition, the networks spent far more airtime focusing on the personal controversies involving Trump (440 minutes) than about similar controversies involving Clinton (185 minutes). Donald Trump’s treatment of women was given 102 minutes of evening news airtime, more than that allocated to discussing Clinton’s e-mail scandal (53 minutes) and the Clinton Foundation pay-for-play scandals (40 minutes) combined.”
That Congressional hearings are needed to investigate this media bias is based on the basic premise that the public trust has been betrayed. A breech of that public trust requires a public response.
In many ways we can look back to the infamous television quiz show scandals of the 1950’s for a similar instance requiring government investigation. The House Committee on Legislative Oversight used congressional hearings to reveal the very depth of the scandal at that time. Due to the nature of the FCC’s role in regulating television broadcasting, the ongoing betrayal of trust and excessive partisanship displayed by the news media warrants investigation now.
In other words, let’s give the American people the powerful visual of the presidents of the various news networks and news divisions appearing before congress for questioning:
- With all the cameras.
- With all of the hours upon hours of video evidence of biased reporting.
- With study after study demonstrating the skewed coverage favoring one party and candidate over the other.
- With WikiLeak emails read aloud and the offending parties summoned to answer.
Anyone old enough to recall the congressional hearings held regarding the tobacco industry in the 1990’s remembers the power of this visual.
Just in the short time since Donald Trump won the election we have already seen that the shameless media isn’t going to change their ways. It’s in their nature. It’s their politics.
The public trust has been betrayed. The public airwaves have been misused. The fourth estate has shown itself (largely) incapable of impartiality.
They must be investigated by Congress or nothing will change.