by Evan Zilber ’22
Published Mar. 4th, 2021
We all accept the fact that mass media has biases, but these biases are rarely thought of as unified. America’s politico-media-complex seems to display a wide variety of political thought, ranging from the left-wing CNN to the right-wing FOX News.
It’s through this shallow partisanship, however, that America’s narrow political agenda can be propagated without rejection from her citizenry.
Media outlets of the left and right use shock value to promote their agenda, and sensationalism in mass media has therefore been legitimized. This is an omnipresent phenomenon, whether shown through Tucker Carlson saying that allowing immigrants into America will make the nation “poorer and dirtier,” or CNN’s contrived allegation that Bernie Sanders is a “misogynist.”
Baiting the reader with sensationalist vagueries has become the standalone goal of establishment media.
Enticing Americans in this way allows for a rife divide between constituencies dependent on vague inclinations rather than concrete policy. Media networks can compensate for the lack of a distinct divide between their party and the opposing one through shocking their audiences into blindly accepting their party on their terms, oftentimes in fear of the ‘radical’ alternative.
Through this, certain ideas are completely abandoned in political discourse as they do not fit into the narrow parameters by which American politics is expected to conform. This idea is most prominent when contrasting the overlying agenda of the state to what doctrines do and do not have a platform in mainstream media.
There is a growing feeling in American politics which mainstream media invariably condemns. Both rightwing and leftwing outlets rile their followers to stand united in opposition to socialism, the true enemy of the state.
This bipartisan unity is achieved through vitriolic (if sometimes erroneous) rhetoric which attacks socialism by all means.
Cries of socialism made by right-wing pundits are almost universally known for their hollowness, so highlighting them as enemies to certain doctrinal beliefs isn’t groundbreaking. Joe Biden was described as a “radical socialist democrat” in an official survey approved by former President Donald Trump, and the 2020 RNC saw a speech by Kimberly Guilfoyle which warned that “Biden, Harris, and their socialist comrades will fundamentally change this nation.”
It’s the reporting of supposedly left-wing networks which prove the foundational bias in establishment media.
After a 2020 Democratic debate, CNN’s Zachary B. Wolf wrote an article titled, “No, Bernie Sanders, most voters aren’t comfortable with socialism.” In this article, Wolf defends Democrat billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg through admonishing Bernie’s campaign. This article contains the hard-hitting, objective language that we should expect from a non-editorial, “Analysis” article.
Firstly, Wolf argues, “Sanders isn’t afraid to gloss over a point he doesn’t like.” This is shown, of course, through his spontaneous response to Michael Bloomberg’s accusation that Sanders’s healthcare plan isn’t feasible. Through this point, Wolf gathers that “Sanders seems more focused on changing the way Americans think about things than actually enacting policy.”
Wolf continues his article with facts from a survey that revealed that two-thirds of American voters “would be uncomfortable with a socialist president.”
This same survey was used by Lester Holt, an NBC-sanctioned moderator of the debate, when he asked Bernie, “what do you say to those [surveyed] voters [who aren’t uncomfortable with socialism?]”, insinuating that Sanders’s campaign will inevitably be unpopular. Holt, though, “glossed over a point he didn’t like,” as he failed to mention that the same survey projected a Sanders victory over Trump if he should win the Democratic nomination.
Mainstream media consistently censures a certain political viewpoint despite its burgeoning popularity among Americans. Considering this makes one wonder if it’s really Bernie Sanders and other anti-establishment leftists who are the ones “focused on changing the way Americans think.”