The Illusion of the Liberal Media – Labour Article
It is relatively well-known that a lot of the press in the West is owned by billionaire media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch. However, this is usually countered with the argument that the mainstream media is “left-wing”.
Nearly every media-rating website places CNN, BuzzFeed, and other such news sources as “left-wing” or “liberal”. On the surface, this appears to be true. Going to the front page of BuzzFeed news shows headlines such as “This Is The Last Ever Trump Debate. He Wouldn’t Exist Without Them” and “Pope Francis Said He Supports Civil Unions For Same-Sex Couples”. These are, traditionally, left-leaning articles. They advocate for traditionally left-wing ideas, such as gay marriage and against the candidate that is representative of the right.
Searching “CNN” on YouTube produces similar results, with the top results all being hit pieces on Trump. Again, this would be regarded as left-wing; it involves attacking the President, who represents the party on the right.
Donald Trump himself has attacked the media in America for being left-wing and biased against him, once asking “who gets attacked more than me?”.
However, the political orientation of the media may not be as clear-cut as it seems. There is no doubt that outlets such as CNN and Buzzfeed post articles that are deemed to be “left-wing”. Yet, when you look further into the editorial content and financials, these news outlets do little to advance the left-wing ideology.
Looking at the published content of these organisations, it is clear why they are branded as “left-wing”. However, in reality, the content of these articles is often made up mostly of agreeable politics that is not truly left-wing. Examples of this include the support for gay marriage, (73% in the UK), and character attacks on Donald Trump. While Trump still has some support, it is not controversial to write articles showing him in a negative light.
Aside from articles about agreeable politics and character attacks on right-wing politicians, most mainstream media outlets do little to argue for truly left-wing politics or to encourage people to go out to vote in favour of left-wing parties. Instead, these media outlets often discuss issues that are likely to disenfranchise voters and encourage them to be less active inside the political system.
An example of this is the over-reporting of voter fraud in America by the media. This serves to disenfranchise voters and is used as an argument in favour of tighter restrictions, which can stop Democrat populations from voting.
On top of this, left-wing media outlets in America often attack the electoral college. In the UK, the same is done with FPTP, often by The Guardian. While it is true that these systems (especially the electoral college) favour the right-leaning party, criticising these systems does little to further left-wing politics. In reality, it disenfranchises voters. Especially those on the side it works against and leads to apathy amongst voters on the left.
Due to the nature of society in the West, money is increasingly more important in politics and the media, especially in America. A corporation’s political alignments can often be determined by how they spend their money. Businesses will spend large amounts of money in order to win favour with politicians. They get those that help them elected into office.
Looking into the financials of BuzzFeed, an outlet reported as “left”, it isn’t as far left as it is stated to be. Andreessen Horowitz, an investment firm, one of the lead investors into BuzzFeed, has contributed $50,000,000 to the company. When looking at contributions that Andreessen Horowitz makes to politicians, it is revealed that in every election cycle, aside from 2020, they contributed more to Republicans than they did to Democrats. This demonstrates that a company whose interests align with the Republicans are willing to become lead investors with BuzzFeed. It is highly unlikely that a firm would be willing to invest in a news source whose articles would encourage change affecting the bottom line of a company and its clients.
The same applies to CNN, owned by AT&T’s TimeWarner. When looking at how AT&T spends in elections, 54% of their money goes through PACs to Republican candidates. Again, raising the same point that a company who stands to benefit from a Republican federal government, would be unlikely to bankroll a media conglomerate that would result in the Democrats being elected.
Ultimately, media outlets defined as “left-wing” can steer the political discourse away from issues that will affect the bottom lines of their donors, such as tax increases, and towards more agreeable policies, such as gay marriage, which will not affect it.
While it may appear that there is a left-wing bias in the mainstream media, this is largely an illusion. This illusion is created by articles that, in reality, do little to shift the politics of the readers to the left. They instead focus readers on issues that won’t affect the company’s, and their investors’, financials.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Ollie White
Point of Information
Don’t dwell on what the media outlets cover, pay attention to what they don’t – A Conservative Response
Admittedly, Ollie made a lot of good points in his article. I liked Ollie’s arguments on funding. However, regardless of this, a lot of outlets have editorial freedom. For example, one of Murdoch’s creations was also The Independent; A poor attempt at an independent news outlet which very quickly turned sensational and left-wing. Spiked!, often hated by the left, is considered a right-wing grift, even though its founder is literally a Marxist.
Even analysing the current pandemic, the Guardian is very happy to dramatize COVID deaths and the social issues related to this. They write emotional articles crying for more government involvement in their lives. That’s literally socialism, left-wing. And don’t even get me started on the US. Both the Atlantic and the Washington Post came out in support of Joe Biden, and a lot of journalists writing for the left-wing media are often left-wing activists.
Gay marriage isn’t even an issue anymore. When the BLM protests were happening all over the country, most left-wing outlets were singing praises. When the looters killed a retired policeman, David Dorn, the left-wing media was silent. It’s not what they talk about, it’s what they ignore.
People were outraged over Goya’s CEO coming out in support of Trump. However, Trump simultaneously signed an economic package for the Hispanic community. None of these outlets reported on that. Putting more focus on every one of Trump’s gaffes not only gets boring after a while but completely ignores important things he has actually accomplished. Every article is skewed against him. If that’s not unfair bias, I don’t know what is.
Ollie claims that presenting Trump in a negative light is normal. I wouldn’t mind that if they also focused on the good. The problem is that they don’t.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
A free press for facts, not ideology – A Liberal Response
This eye-opening article serves to highlight that an independent press is a key part of democracy. The press is meant to be there to scrutinize power in the public sphere. Not to manipulate political discourse in the interest of private companies and shareholders.
The article is a sinister indictment of the state of American politics and the duplicity of the news outlets in relation to their output and their donor influences. A Liberal perspective would be to advocate for transparency in the media and their donors. America should work to remove dodgy money from their politics.
This is particularly important in areas where influence can be bought and sold, with the same companies bankrolling candidates and media organisations. It’s meant to be easy to buy Senators’ favour in the USA; it shouldn’t be easy to buy media influence over the voters too.
The point where I disagree with the article is where it begins to complain about media outlets that are left-wing not doing enough to support the Left. These media outlets are not intended to espouse left-wing ideology and further the case for socialism. Their duty is to report facts and events.
They may offer their own slant on the issue, as we all do. But it is nonsensical to expect sites like CNN and Buzzfeed to push ideological values when a free press should be able to support and criticise that which they see fit.
Furthermore, one of the reasons so much of the media is labelled as left-wing is the treatment of President Donald Trump. Dislike of a right-wing president is not necessarily a left-wing stance. Scrutiny of power has no inherent political leaning. It will be interesting to see if Biden wins the presidency how perceptions of the media will change as they critique a Democratic president.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Emma Hall
My name is Dinah Kolka and I am going into the first year of Journalism at Napier University in Edinburgh. Recently, I graduated from Edinburgh College with an HNC in Media and Communications. This ignited my interest in politics and journalism.