I’ve been working in the news media since I was 14. My career officially began at CNN. Before and after picking electronic cotton for Massa Turner, I worked for newspapers, radio stations, magazines, TV and the Internet. So I know more than a little about journalistic bias. There are two main strains: sensationalism and liberalism . . .
Sensationalism is the simple result of capitalism. The great Don Henley put it best: “it’s interesting when people die.” “Gun violence” is interesting; it attracts audiences. Ratings/page views/ears mean money. Ergo anything involving guns is a potential mainstream media money spinner, especially if it involves ballistic perforation.
Guns are particularly fascinating in that they usually involve intent. Someone shot someone. Who, what, where, when, why? Unlike many, I don’t think less of people for wanting to read, watch or listen to sometimes gory information about a shooting. The basic human instinct for survival informs this desire. If I know more about a shooting, I can protect myself from being shot. Makes sense to me.
The mainstream media’s anti-gun/liberal bias is another matter . . .
The people who own and/or control the mainstream media are college graduates. They hire college graduates. They’re all products of a system that’s a hothouse of elitist ideology. With exceptions (notably university departments teaching hard sciences), college students are trained to consider themselves better than non-college graduates. After assuming a mountain of government-sponsored debt, they’re perfectly qualified to make choices for other, less educated, perhaps uneducable citizens.
The gun control message fits this belief system like a glove. Society needs to limit access to guns because most people aren’t like us. They’re not smart enough to handle the responsibility of owning a deadly weapon. And it’s OK for the police and the military to have guns because they’re under the control of smart (i.e. college educated) people.
This elitist anti-gun message finds special resonance in journalism school. Students are taught by professors inspired by The Washington Post’s dethronement of President Nixon. The profs — and thus their students — see their work in Blues Brothers’ terms: they’re on a mission from God. A mission to expose and defeat Republicans/conservatives. Because Democrats/progressives share “our” values.
Don’t get me wrong: journalism is a noble undertaking. In its ideal form, journalism holds the rich and powerful accountable to the laws/principles upon which this country was founded. It protects the weak. It safeguards our Constitutional republic. Thomas Jefferson put it best:
The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.
Papers. Yes, there is that . . .
A 2014 U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy study found that 14 percent of Americans can’t read, 21 percent of adults read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. To say nothing of their understanding of the United States Constitution and the Second Amendment therein.
Assume that reading endows a person with critical thinking skills. Clock the fact that the mainstream media makes the lion’s share of its money in urban areas where illiteracy is at its highest. Connect the dots. The MSM “dumbs down” firearms-related stories to consumers ill equipped with the critical thinking skills needed to appreciate — or care about — the producers’ underlying anti-gun rights bias. It’s win-win as far as the MSM is concerned.
The Internet changed — is changing — everything. America’s traditional college system is collapsing under its own weight, as union-driven costs spiral and the Internet-driven free market rewards efficiency and productivity, rather than politically correct college cred.
Is the Internet enabling, indeed forcing a return to the educated electorate that was America at its birth, when 90 percent of citizens were highly literate? (This before compulsory education.) The jury’s out on that. Meanwhile, let’s face it: the sensationalist anti-gun rights mainstream media haven’t lost much of their power to mold minds. They show little sign of acknowledging or changing their bias.
On the positive side, Fox News. And Internet-based “citizen journalists”: writers, podcasters and videographers who promote the Second Amendment as the defense against government tyranny and personal predation. That said, “new media” hasn’t even dented the mainstream media’s anti-gun bias. But we do undermine it with rational discourse, for those capable of understanding. The more of those, the better.