We may have just witnessed another round of tit-for-tat in our media. President Donald Trump criticized media outlets after CNN, ABC News and a Washington Post reporter corrected erroneous information. News outlets then took to writing about it — some praised Trump and vilified the outlets, others disparaged him.
Would you be surprised to know all these approaches (the different media outlets’ and Trump’s) are similarly distorted? Here’s a mini analysis using two of the four sources we examined, as well as one of Trump’s tweets.
President Donald Trump on Saturday took square aim at the media over erroneous reporting, capping a week of back and forth between the president and one of his favorite punching bags.
The Daily Caller
At a rally in Florida Friday night, President Donald Trump took a hammer to the fake news reports. Trump began touting how much the media has been apologizing for fake news.
Fake News CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday. They were caught red handed, just like lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his “mistake”). Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just gross incompetence?
You might think certain news outlets provide a more factual and balanced version of the news, but in this case that could be the byproduct of a cognitive bias. In other words, conservatives might tend to view The Daily Caller as a better outlet because they agree more with its views, for example. But if you look beyond the content or politics of each source, you’ll notice the distortion gets pretty repetitive — there’s spin, slant and opinion in all of them.
Some might argue reporting like the above is necessary, because it holds different parties accountable. And yes, accountability in both media and government is necessary for a fair, democratic society. The media can act as a type of checks-and-balances system on government, yet to do so, it must use data-based, responsible reporting. Otherwise it’s just fighting fire with fire.
Jens Erik Gould
Jens is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News