Have you ever heard of “Freedom of Transportation”? How about “Freedom of Education”? How about “Freedom of Healthcare”? No? How about “Freedom of the Press”. Ahhh there we go, you’ve heard of that one. It’s a biggie actually – the First Amendment to the Constitution. Transportation and healthcare are important societal institutions, but freedom of the press is particularly special and deserving of constitutional protection. It’s not so much that the press per se is important as is our right to be informed. A functioning democracy requires the populace to be in the know, rather than in the dark. So we bestow upon the press a special status, with special rights.
Constitutionally they are entrusted to inform us. In turn, major news organizations specifically hold themselves out to be purveyors of “news”. Not only is our trust in the media implied, they explicitly ask us to trust them. “News you can trust”, “the most trusted name is news”, “reliable sources” are all phrases we have heard.
So when we see biased reporting that appears more to advocate a political position rather than inform us of important facts, it is more than just annoying or even unfair, it’s a serious breach of trust. It’s also an abuse of power. Under the guise of informing, they’re actually advocating. The practical effect is to undermine democracy by taking the public out of the decision making equation. You can’t make a meaningful decision without all of the facts. Worse, because the bias is not disclosed the public is made to believe it has all of the facts and the citizenry become mere pawns in a political game.
So excuse me and my fellow bloggers for being p***ed off when we see the media doing such things as feeding the public grossly skewed polling results on matters of grave importance as if those polls represent “the truth.”
Funny how doctors and lawyers go to jail for breaches of trust, but the media seems to get a free pass.
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