Why Mainstream Media Are So Right Wing Biased and How to Change That

I just did a Twitter thread a few days ago, on why mainstream media is so Right Wing biased. Rather than keep this information just on Twitter, I’m reproducing it here too.

People used to argue with me when I said mainstream media were Right Wing biased. That’s not happening as much since the Afghanistan withdrawal. Since then, mainstream media have been inviting every neoconservative who’s been wrong about Afghanistan for the last 20 years, to be interviewed on TV and for newspapers. They’ve also been invited to write guest columns.

Most of these perennially wrong people have high status because they once held high offices, and because news media have kept platforming them over the years. Media’s powerful platforming has increased the standing of neocons, despite their wrong predictions, lies about what was happening in Afghanistan, and cheerleading for the military industrial complex . The MIC and the pro-war media have been the only winners in the 20 year Afghanistan War. Both ordinary Americans and Afghans lost.

Reasons Why Mainstream Media Are So Right Wing Biased

1) The GOP “works the refs” by accusing media of Left Wing bias. The GOP doesn’t say that because it’s true. GOP propagandists speak to attain a goal — not to communicate what they think. The goal has been to push mainstream media Rightward, by pushing media to prove they’re not Left Wing biased.

If you are a journalist, you can’t prove you’re not biased to a Right Wing con artist who already knows you aren’t biased but just wants to turn your outlet into Fox or Breitbart. The Right Winger is never satisfied. So you keep trying to prove you’re not Left biased — forever. This strategy has been spectacularly successful. Afghanistan withdrawal coverage is a case in point. The coverage is heavily Right Wing biased.

2) The GOP has an outrage machine that everyone fears and bends to. Democrats don’t have one. So Democrats often can’t defend themselves. They often can’t get fair media coverage.

3) Media think that to be considered “fair” they have to criticize normal Biden equally as often as they criticized super corrupt Trump. They seem to think that treating both sides equally is fair. So they treat constant liars as being equally credible with people who try their best to get the facts right and speak truth.

Mainstream media journalists also seem to think they have to follow the lead of Fox “News” in order to prove they are not Left Wing biased. This video from Vox.com illustrates that point well.

You’re watching Fox News. You just don’t know it.

https://www.vox.com/2019/5/24/18639159/fox-news-hack-gap-gatekeeping

4) Media bosses like Right Wing bias — or else both sides coverage which turns out to be Right Wing biased, because it ends up privileging Right Wing liars. Media bosses hire and promote people who do “both sides” coverage or will be otherwise Right Wing biased. They reject most applicants who won’t be.

5) The GOP repeats talking points in mainstream media incessantly until everyone —mainstream media journalists, Dem voters, Dem politicians — everyone — thinks of these points as “conventional wisdom.” Most media consumers respect the views of people who conform to this “conventional wisdom” more than the views of people who don’t accept the incessantly repeated conventional wisdom.

Democrats, stupidly, refuse to use repeated talking points. So not so many people remember what Democrats say.

How Democrats Can Get Better Media Coverage to Help Us Move Forward & Defeat Trumpublicans

6) Democratic politicians have long time trusted consultants who keep advising them to be bipartisan, passive and conciliatory toward the Insurrectionist party. We all need to phone — and snail mail write — Biden, Pelosi and Schumer, to demand they fire these consultants and replace them with aggressive Democrats. Don’t bother to tweet at them. Officials can’t tell if a tweet came from within the U.S., so it will likely be ignored.

7) Here’s one last reason. It may be the most important reason.

We live in a plutocracy. High status people and organizations have outsized power. Consolidation in media — and thus concentrated ownership of media by the most wealthy people — has contributed a lot to its Right Wing bias, as described in the article below.

Twenty Years of Media Consolidation Has Not Been Good For Our Democracy

The media has become controlled by a handful of corporations thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

https://billmoyers.com/story/twenty-years-of-media-consolidation-has-not-been-good-for-our-democracy/

If the public wants change in powerful organizations —such as change in major media companies toward fairer coverage — we need to pressure them to support the changes and to stop standing in the way of the public who wants these changes.

Not enough of us have pressured them.

Major news media are very powerful — probably more powerful than our government. After all, news media choose our government.

It was too late, once Trump got elected in 2016, for us to phone and write New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other news media and pressure them to stop the incessant coverage of Hillary’s emails and the incessant amused coverage of Trump’s crazy actions and words. It was too late to demand that WaPo and NYT to issue an apology for printing excerpts from the Hillary Clinton hit job book Clinton Cash as if they were true. The die was cast.

People think they can phone or write their representatives, once they’re elected. But in the case of Republicans, that’s usually too late. Trumpublicans don’t seem to care what their constituents think, since they get elected through gerrymandering, voter suppression and other forms of cheating. If a party cheats and lies effectively enough, they don’t need many votes.

Right Wing media and mainstream media together chose Trump in 2016. Let’s pressure mainstream media not to choose Trump in 2024 and not to choose a Trumpublican House & Senate in 2022— before it’s too late. Whenever they print or televise lies or deceptive stories or show Right Wing bias, we need to phone and write them. There’s no point in tweeting them, since tweets — with the exception of some of disinformation tweets from large Right Wing accounts — are probably the most ignored form of human communication.

Even if you don’t consume much media, you can still participate. Here is a list of people on Twitter you can follow who will give you information about TV programs and articles that show bias. @froomkin @brianbeutler @ericboehlert @jayrosen_nyu @davewiegel and @juddlegum often tweet about biased and deceptive articles and TV shows, complete with quotes to specify exactly what the error was. I sometimes do too. I’m @upine on Twitter.

You can get info from these sources. Then you can contact the media outlets. You can find contact info on the web. Here are a few examples.

https://help.nytimes.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015385887-Contact-Us#newsroom

Personally, I never contact Right Wing propaganda outlets like Fox, Wall Street Journal, Sinclair, OAN, Newsmax or Politico. These outlets are consistently and intentionally Right Wing biased. Politico only became extreme in the past year, after which it got sold to a big German Right Wing outlet for a billion dollars. These outlets act as if they have a clear and intentional mission of getting Trumpublicans elected.

A different strategy is needed to deal with disinformation outlets spreading propaganda on subjects such as the Big Lie, the insurrection and vaccines. I’ve written a lot about that. Here’s one article.

Counterpropaganda strategies can be used that are similar to those used by the military in war — but adapted for domestic counterpropaganda. Since it is a domestic problem, the military shouldn’t do it. It should be done by nonprofits. We need to appeal to people who can afford to fund nonprofit organizations that can spread truth as far and as wide as the lies are being spread — and to the same audience.

What you can do here is to contact liberal philanthropists — George Soros, Tom Steyer, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Nick Hanauer, MacKenzie Scott, Laurene Powell Jobs— any liberal philanthropist or philanthropy organization you can find. You can ask them to start and fund nonprofit organizations to spread truth as far and as wide as the lies are being spread and to the same audience. Feel free to send them the article I linked to above, if you like.

Some nonprofits are spreading truth right now, but they are spreading it “to the choir” — that is, to people who don’t believe Right Wing lies — not to people who are in the same audience being targeted by the Right Wing lies. It will be a challenge to find ways to appeal to that audience. As far as I am aware, no organization has yet tried.

The reason so many revolutions fail — even peaceful ones — is that most people don’t understand how power works. So they don’t direct their hopes and rage in effective ways. Our system of power in the U.S. works through plutocracy. So the high status people and organizations are the key to constructive change.

Do you think I’m wrong about that — about needing to get big organizations and big funding to get this done? Feel free to prove me wrong. Feel free to start a nonprofit organization from small donations, to get this done. If anyone can get propaganda fought in this way, I’m all for that too.

I do see that a tiny number of House of Representatives elections have been won by candidates who used only small donations — although no larger elections — such as those for Senate or president — have been won that way.

I am not against small donors or individuals changing the world for the better. I just don’t see it happening so much, so I focus on the means by which I see changes happening in our society.

However, any ethical way that the Right Wing propaganda machine can be disabled is fine with me. Any ethical way that mainstream media and social media can be gotten to drop their Right Wing bias is fine with me. I’ve written my own ideas. If you have others, I’d love to hear them.

If you want the same goals as I do, please consider joining me in contacting people and organizations that hold the keys to constructive change in our media environment — and thus in our government — as I have described here. May we all be successful.

psychologist