A Look at Bias in the Media

       The media can be a very useful tool for staying in touch with the world. The media is important for keeping the public informed on important issues such as, the presidential election. However, the media is also filled with outrageous stories, such as the boy trapped in a hot air balloon or the woman who attacked a McDonald’s employee because he got her order wrong. Media bias has been influencing people for the worse since before the first newspaper was published. Media bias can help give power to those who should not have it and take it away from those who should. The two points of the media are to inform and entertain, but stories that bring about fear and paranoia do neither. The media can cause as much harm as it does good. People are only now beginning to notice Media Bias. Jeremy Boreing, a screenwriter and film producer, said, "The media has always provided a platform for specific bias" (The Media has always been Biased); with people finally seeing the amount of bias and deception in the media, it is important that something is done to regulate that bias. Even though the Constitution calls for the freedom of speech, there should be some form of censorship on media stories that cause harm to the American people, especially media stories formed from bias.

       Media bias is something that has always been used to gain something or make someone else lose something. In fact, media bias is something that those in positions of power in the American system use to their advantages. There have been several president elects who, instead of campaigning, used the media to slander their competitor’s name, much like today. Not only have those in charge used the media to slander someone else, but they’ve used it to try and hide things from the masses as well. One prime example is that of the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers showed just how deep in the Vietnam War America was involved, and the American Government wished to keep the information within the papers private. Eventually, the papers were released to the public and anger at the deception of the Government to its people was felt. In fact, this large document has only just recently been made completely available to the public. Another example of media bias, which some may consider even more scandalous than the Pentagon Papers, was Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal. The Watergate Scandal concerned the burglarizing of the offices of the Democratic National Committee by five men. Eventually it came to light, thanks to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, that these men were all connected with President Richard Nixon in some way or form. After this connection was discovered, men from the president’s campaign began trying to cover it up by destroying documents and lying to reporters. But it was impossible to cover everything up, and on the 8th of August, President Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford took his place. President Ford later excused Nixon of any crimes he may have committed as president, in an attempt to help the country move on from this scandal. However, many were outraged by this and accused President Ford of being the same as Nixon. There was no evidence for the allegations against President Ford, but that did not stop the media from running the stories.

       The media causes bias and disarray among the American people, and sometimes that bias leads America to war. This was the case with the Spanish-American War. Several news writers of this time practiced something called yellow journalism, which promoted the embellishing of facts to make a story more interesting. In the time before the Spanish-American War began, Spain was already receiving a great amount of hostility from America because of Yellow Journalism. Two of the largest contributors to this were William Hearst and his illustrator Frederick Remington. Heart had sent Remington to Cuba in order to get stories, but Remington found none and had even said so when he sent this message, "Everything is quiet. There is no trouble. There will be no war. I wish to return" (Frederick Remington). Hearst quickly replied, "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war" (William Hearst), although he denied ever sending that message. During this time Remington illustrated several pictures showing Spain cruelty, and Hearst created stories to go with it. Soon, stories of rough, cruel Spain soldiers strip searching Cuban women came to the news, and Spain started getting more hostility. The point that truly changed everything however was when the American U.S.S. Maine exploded in Spanish waters. Hearst and Remington made it out that Spain was to blame and soon everyone was shouting for war. America went to war with the destruction of the Maineas the tipping point; it is still unknowns as to what caused the Maine to explode. This is just one example of what the media can do; just as it can furnish a war, the media can bring a war to a premature end as well. The Vietnam War is a prime example of this. The Vietnam War was in America’s favor, but the media made it appear as the opposite. The media portrayed unorganized soldiers, a strong offensive against the American soldiers, and the bombings of cities. The fact was the soldiers were well organized, America had the North Vietnamese at their ropes, and bombing from air vehicles was only brought in when necessary. The deciding point of the end of the war however was the Tet Offensive of 1968. The attack was, contrary to what the media said, a major victory for America and helped beat North Vietnam back. It was believed that North Vietnam would likely seek peace after the Tet Offensive, but because of the media, the troops were eventually called back. This also gave the North Vietnamese the will to keep going, believing their will was stronger than that of the Americans. Had it not been for the media, the Vietnam War could have ended very differently.

       The media is something that needs to be censured to some extent. Media Bias causes harm to the people and can lead to entirety of the people to rise up for a belief or obligation that had been completely fabricated. The Media is a tool used to inform the people, but the way it is now makes it a tool for others to exploit. Bias not only causes events like the Spanish-American War or the Watergate Scandal, but it causes fear and panic in the form of terrorism. The duty of a terrorist is to strike fear into their enemies, something which the media can easily help promote when not monitored. In order to keep the fear of terrorism in check, someone needs to censure the media in order to keep us informed, but not terrified. People need to be kept informed, this cannot be denied, but there is no need for the amount of bias that permeates the news today. There are many people who study human psyche today, and have an inside look on what could be potentially harmful to the American people as a whole. It is these people that could help monitor the media in order to protect against stories that do nothing but bring about hostility and fear. The Constitution is clear on the matter of censuring of the media, and it is well known that censuring would go against the right of the freedom of speech, but the freedom of speech is not more important than the pursuit of happiness which media bias can make more difficult to obtain. The media can and should inform people on current events and on what is important in the world, but it should not bring about hostility and fear when there is little reason to truly have these feelings. Having someone monitor and censure the media does go against the right of free speech, but it is as Thomas Jefferson said to James Madison, "There [are moments] in which the aid of an able pen [is] important to place things in their just attitude." The media has come far from its original place and purpose, and it is time that it is put back.

Works Cited for this Essay

Boreing, Jeremy D. "The Media Have Always Been Biased." Media Bias (2011): n. pag. Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 4 April 2012.

Bishop, Donald, Captain. "The Press and the TET Offensive: a flawed institution under stress."

Airpower. Air University Review, November-December 1978. Web. 4 April 2012.

Thinkquest. "Propoganda in the Spanish-American War." Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation, n.d. Web. 4 April 2012.

u-s-history. "Pentagon Papers: Federal Government, American Constitutional Crisis." n.p., n.d. Web. 4 April 2012.

u-s-history. "Watergate Scandal: President, 1972-1977." n.p., n.d. Web. 4 April 2012