TELLTALE SIGNS OF MEDIA BIAS
One of the telltale signs of media bias is the profound lack of checking value in media reporting today. Professor Vincent Blasi wrote extensively about the indispensable role of the First Amendment freedom of the press in checking government men and measures, i.e., in ferreting out corruption and abuse of power. Indeed, that role has been lauded from colonial times through the Founding Era and beyond as a hallmark characteristic of a free press and as essential to keep those in power honest and responsive to the electorate.
Although today’s federal bureaucracy is rife with corruption and abuse of power (at levels that exceed any other time in American history), the national media spend precious little, if any, time documenting that corruption, that abuse of power, and the effects of bureaucratic enforcement. Instead, they more often than not print or summarize the press releases from agency enforcers without critical review or comment, thereby serving as a tool for propagandists, because those releases ordinarily propound an exaggerated, self-serving, and misleading representation of the facts as a means to destroy the government’s regulatory opponents in the court of public opinion even before the completion of judicial proceedings.
Every week, if not every day, in America a company succumbs from regulatory enforcement. That enforcement quite often results in bankruptcies, unemployment, and loss of opportunity. Frequently, the death of a company hangs on a technicality of little real world significance, yet the effective penalty imposed even for technical infractions of bureaucratic law can be draconian (crippling or completely annihilating the accused company). That overkill is judicially sanctioned; there is no check within the government to ensure that the punishment meted out by federal agencies is proportionate to the offense committed.
Although one would think that a company caught in a regulatory dragnet which ultimately suffers to the point of extinction, resulting in a loss of its products and a loss of employment, should be deemed newsworthy, repeatedly the only story that appears in the press is the one at the start of the process: Federal agency XYZ accuses Company A of harming consumers. The follow-up story, the investigatory reporting to determine the validity of the charge, the nature of the government’s evidence, the extent to which the enforcement is just and fair, the extent to which the offense is one that justifies the cost and burden on the accused, and the ultimate effect of punishments meted out are left without coverage or, if covered, are given short shrift.
In this way, the media shows bias and defeats a central justification for its existence. A free people depend upon a free press in no small measure because when the press functions properly it views with a jaundiced eye every move of those in power and reports upon the moves and the effects of the moves. Today, the media remains hypersensitive and skeptical about virtually every move made by industry in the market (save certain favored ones, like drug companies and others that finance the press through commercials and advertisements), yet it shows little skepticism and, often, fawning approval for virtually every action taken by government that proceeds under a public interest veneer (i.e., that is said to be for the public good).
The media shows its bias by accepting unquestioningly much of the pablum and propaganda dished out by federal agencies as they go about applying a wrecking ball to American industry. The media often turns a blind eye to the pervasive crony capitalism that has made “K Street” in Washington synonymous with lobbying to advance anti-competitive regulation, protective of the largest firms in each major industry.
When media bias so infects journalism as to render the checking value of the First Amendment largely ineffectual, then we have lost much because that critical window into the inner workings of government that has exposed everything from the Teapot Dome scandal to Watergate is no longer present, and those who abuse government power may do so without ever having to account for their corrupt actions.
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© 2015 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved
Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney who practices constitutional and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies. Ron Paul calls Jonathan “a hero of the health freedom revolution” and says “all freedom-loving Americans are in [his] debt . . . for his courtroom [victories] on behalf of health freedom.” He has defeated the FDA in federal court a remarkable eight times, seven on First Amendment grounds, and is the author of the Amazon bestsellers The Rise of Tyranny, Global Censorship of Health Information, and Restore the Republic. He is the American Justice columnist for U.S.A. Today Magazine and joins Robert Scott Bell weekly for “Jonathan Emord’s Sacred Fire of Liberty,” an hour long radio program on government threats to individual liberty. For more info visit Emord.com, join the Emord FDA/FTC Law Group on Linkedin, and follow Jonathan on twitter (@jonathanwemord).
The media shows its bias by accepting unquestioningly much of the pablum and propaganda dished out by federal agencies as they go about applying a wrecking ball to American industry.