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The Manipulation of Media February 28, 2007 – 8:11 p.m. – Permalink
the re(print) at seraphic zephyr.

This is a reprint of an article by Sam Wolken, written on January 22, 2007. Sam’s SlyForum, Seraphic Zephyr’s sister site, occasionally heralds the new arrivals of articles that cater to emphatic people with interests in politics. In this article, he inspects the effects of “viewer corruption” in the media.

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Jon Stewart’s interview on the late CNN television show Crossfire. He not only made Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala look foolish, but he managed to cause the show’s termination, as well. To me, this is a victory for the voting citizens of the United States. A first battle against television which oversimplifies politics and creates a biased, partisan debate. This disgraceful format often causes an absolute mockery of one party to sway viewers, thus making this system more than corrupt and simply existing as an outlet for a political party rather than news.

I am not attempting to attack either political party in this article, as both make use of this effective, but yet morally incorrect system of corrupting viewers. The worst effect of this approach to capture votes is, to me, the remarkable reaction from viewers. Fox News is currently the most watched cable news network, having recently overtaken CNN. Fox News, a station which is built around spinning news to frame the Republican Party in a complimentary light, is the most commonly used source of news, for cable viewers. This is a disgrace to the true, honest news shows, such as NBC Nightly News. Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor, is a prime example of this maniacal device. Bill O’Reilly makes a living running news through a conservative staff of writers, calling it a script, and then projecting his nonsensical rhetoric on air; this process has earned him the number one cable television show.

This process has grown so common, it has managed to get its own Comedy Central parody in the Colbert Report. One of the most witty and intelligent shows on air today, Stephen Colbert takes a similar conservative viewpoint on the news and preaches it in a way which is remarkably similar to that of Bill O’Reilly; however, Colbert’s audience laughs. So two hosts, Colbert and O’Reilly take the same news, preach it with the same conservative spin: one gets applause and laughter, one becomes both the highest rated news show and the most watched television show on cable. To me, this is the epitome of average American politics. Our two parties have managed to make their views so different, their takes on news so varied, that one audience treats it as pure fact, while another treats it as comedy.

Getting back to Crossfire, I believe Jon Stewart has done our public a great service in helping it become removed from the air. I feel shows with such an obvious political bias deserve no place in our media, at least not on stations which claim to show fact. CNN and Fox News should share news, not their politics, and fulfill their obligations to the American people to deliver what they ask for: the facts.