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Slanted news isn’t news, it’s propaganda

Those of you who’ve read this blog for years know that I was a journalist and a college journalism teacher as was my father before me. We grew up in another era, one in which opinion in a newspaper was confined to the editorial page. Those who wrote news stories were–as we said back then–supposed to leave their opinions at the door.

These days, it’s hard to find the truth because the major news outlets are biased in favor of Trump or those who oppose Trump. My wife and I–she was a newspaper reporter–have caught news outlets (AKA propaganda sheets) focused on both sides the aisle slanting the news. We watch an event or a speech live, and then the outlet reports it incorrectly, sometimes making up quotes that weren’t in the speech.

We saw on Facebook yesterday and today how damaging skewed news can be. Many of us were debating what appeared to be the taunting of an Indian elder in Washington, D.C. by a group from a Catholic school that was in town to speak out against abortion. Our first impression–based on how the news was reported–was that the school group verbally attacked others and was rather smug about it.

Today we learn that everything about the incident we thought we knew yesterday was wrong. That is, the news report made it appear that the school group verbally attacked the Indian when this was not what happened. In fact, the school group, who was already chanting after the formal end of their march, saw the Indian chanting, and when he came over to them, they thought he was chanting with them. They didn’t realize until they saw the news that the media viewed them as white kids making fun of a well-known Indian elder.

My initial perspective was that the kids had run amok and shouldn’t have been making fun of the Indian. Others used the incident as a springboard to criticizing the Catholic Church, suspecting that taunting the Indian was something the church believed in. Others said that since their kids were supposed to be representing a church school, they should not have worn the MAGA hats because they were in town to protest abortion and not as Trump supporters.

Even though the Catholic diocese has apologized to the elder, the media who put their agenda up as more important than the actual news should be the ones apologizing, both to the kids who were under fire for being white and conservative and to the readers for skewing the story so that it matched their political agenda.

The political arena is volatile enough these days without news outlets published biased reports. They think they are helping the political parties they agree with when, in fact, they are hurting the country. Journalists are supposed to present the facts and allow their readers to decide how they feel about what happened. Today’s media appear not to trust the readers because they hedge their bets by using propaganda rather than truth.

They are discounting all of us.

–Malcolm

 

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