When we look at other countries, whether it be North Korea, China or Russia, we often remind ourselves that we live in a free country where the press can report just about anything that they wish. When making the comparison, this is probably true for the most part. However, the mainstream media outlets in the United States does seem to lean one way or the other, usually along party lines. Long gone are the days when you would get just about the same news, regardless of what channel you were watching that night.
Since much of our news has been pulled into the political circle, some outlets may favor the Government while others oppose it, depending on which political party that particular outlet usually associates itself with. It is well known for example, that Fox News is strongly in favor of the Republican party, while others such as ABC tend to lean more to the left. Because of this, at any given time the Fox News website will usually have negative comments about our current Democratic Administration in the White House. At the same time, ABC may be broadcasting the same event, but it will attempt to paint a prettier picture in the process.
So does the Government control our media? Perhaps Control is too strong a word, but I think they do influence which news is selected and how it is reported. It’s not clear whether its a back room deal being made with selected broadcasters, or if its just the way the business works.
Before I go on, I need to make it clear that I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I am registered as an Independent voter. Personally, I favor and dislike qualities in both parties, so I try to vote for what our country needs at the time. Robin Williams said it best in the movie titled, Man of the Year. The late actor said that, Politician are like dirty diapers, and should be changed often for the same reasons. Of course, we all know what he was implying in that statement.
That being said, let’s look at the huge role that the media plays during an election. There is no other example that I can think of off hand that demonstrates the power of the press like during an election. In 2006, the nation was clearly bad shape. Our economy was headed down hill, while the price of oil made new record highs. In effect, the price of just about everything went up, primarily because it takes oil to produce and distribute just about everything that we buy. That year, this bad turn of events lead the Democrats to take both the House and the Senate. The liberal leaning media had no trouble blaming the Republicans for the country’s hard times. This continued up through to 2008, when President Obama won the white house. The democrats had mostly the media to thank for this victory.
Of course, in 2010 the media’s roles reversed. The country was not showing much improvement and the public knew this. This was a great opportunity for the right leaning side of the media to come out of hibernation. It might sound like a cheap trick like the one used by the Democrats a few years prior, but it worked. This time the Republican party won the House of Representatives, and they had the right leaning media to thank for it. With a Republican House, and a Democratic Senate and President, things were pretty much in a deadlock as they are now. Even after the last election in 2014, where the Republican party secured enough seats to win the Senate while still holding the house, I don’t expect much to happen over the next couple of years. This is primarily because we still have a democratic President who isn’t afraid to use the veto pen, much like George W. Bush did after the democrats won congress in 2006.
I do have to say that in this last election, the republicans did have a lot going for them. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a good example. Despite what the media tells us about this ongoing incident, it really is an invasion in my opinion. Shorty after, China began flexing its own muscle in the South China Sea. During all of this, it does appear that Russia and China seem to be getting along a little Too well here lately. Right leaning media loves to taunt these stories, not just because it exposes a potential weakness in the current administration’s handling of foreign affairs, but also because traditionally Republicans are well known to be big on National Defense. The democrats did the same thing when the economy tanked in 2006. While the GOP is big on defense, democrats tend to have more social concerns. Nothing wins an election quicker than when the American people are living in fear, and both sides of the media love to cash in on this if and when it favors their own party’s agenda.
After Russia annexed Crimea in Ukraine, they also started aiding the Rebels in East Ukraine. Russia denies any involvement, however NATO is quite persistent in stating the opposite. Though the President of the United States believes that Russia can be handled with sanctions alone, Republicans believe that more should be done.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, President Obama places heavy emphasis on this fact, but the United States must feel some responsibility due to the signing of the Budapest Memorandum. After the breakup of the old Soviet Union, this agreement was signed by both the United States and Russia. The agreement stated that if Ukraine were to give up its nuclear weapons, then Ukraine would not be invaded. The catch was that neither the United States nor Russia provided any guarantees that action would be taken if Ukraine’s borders were violated. The democratic side of the media doesn’t mention much about this agreement. In fact, little is said regarding Ukraine in general. Republicans attempt to make these events more well known to the public, but at a time of a declining economy, nobody seems to care. After all, how is what is happening in Ukraine any threat to America? It turns out that it may be just that.
This year, Russia has violated the air space of other nations more often than it has since the Cold War. Every few days we hear through social media of yet another occurrence of Russian bombers being intercepted by NATO aircraft, and escorted back into the general direction of where they came from. These incidents are not limited to just Europe since even the United States has had to turn back Russian planes upon approaching the coast of its own country.
So wait, Russian bombers have violated the airspace of the United States? Russia is making nuclear threats against NATO, which also includes the U.S.? Why is this not big news? It seems that the threat of a Nuclear War between the United States and Russia would be a big deal, but obviously it isn’t. Why? Because the current administration does not want the American people to be fearful at this time.
The Ebola outbreak in Africa is probably even a better example. Remember when a man from the infected region arrived in Texas? He was actually turned away at his first visit to the hospital, only to return a few days later and become the first person in the United States to be Diagnosed with the Ebola virus. Republicans demanded that we close all flights to and from the infected areas in Africa, but the Center for Disease Control, along with the President, told us it was extremely difficult to catch the virus. Not long after, one of the nurses who treated the man contracted the disease, along with yet another nurse who was permitted to jump on and airline to visit relatives in Ohio. These events caused great panic in the United States. Even the media outlets who generally leaned more towards favoring the President, spoke up about the fear of a potential Ebola outbreak in the United States. Fox News had a field day with the man in charge of running the CDC.
I bring this up because despite the media frenzy, it seemed that the Government downplayed any mention of the Ebola virus’s potentially disastrous outcome. At about the exact same time, another virus called Enterovirus D68, was hospitalizing children throughout the United States. In response to this particular virus, several schools were closed. For weeks, all the media spoke of was Ebola and D68, until one day…it just stopped. It was as if someone threw a switch, and the media frenzy was over.
Was this a media blackout put into effect by our Government just before the congressional elections of 2014? What reasons would the Administration have for doing this? Some believe that it could have to do with Obama’s refusal to act on sealing off our borders and stopping flights to the infected areas of Africa. Smaller media outlets continued to imply that Ebola was still a very great threat to the United States, and even went as far saying that the Government was covering up additional cases of Ebola.
At this point, I don’t know what to believe, but never in my life have I ever seen such a hot and potentially dangerous topic in the media, die out overnight. Look at the coverage the missing Malaysian Flight 370 got, this went on for months. In fact, this event was being reported even when there was nothing new to report. Forget the Ebola virus, or the threat of a new Cold War with Russia, we have got to find this missing airplane! Yes, a missing airplane is news, but it was all the left leaning media talked about. Sometimes Fox would continue to broadcast information on Russia and Ebola, but even these reports were were becoming limited.
So back to the question, does our Government influence the media? I’m convinced that this seems to be the case. What the public is told may rely on what political party happens to be in the White House at the time. Both parties cheat, and both parties twist the truth to suit each others agenda at the time. Whether they use the media to scare us, or to convince us that no threat exists even though one very well exists. I imagine that there are two things that drive the media in today’s times, politics and money. If mainstream media can make more to gain by sitting on a big story, rather than transmitting it, then that is probably the route that they will take.
It goes back to what our parents always told us, that we should never believe everything we read. We live in a time when we have to not only read between the lines, but we also have to look at the big picture as well. The media no longer tells the people what they need to know to protect themselves. Instead they tell the people what they need to hear in order to protect the media’s own political and financial interests. If those interests involve covering or not covering an event at the request of the Government, then that will most likely be the case.
I welcome your comments or any corrections on this topic.