The media has only itself to blame for people not trusting it

Came across this on Reddit, Poll shows half of Americans believe news media is intentionally misleading:

50% feel most national news organizations intend to mislead, misinform or persuade the public.

50% say there is so much bias in the news media that it is often difficult to sort out the facts.

I don’t want to make this too political, but the media only has itself to blame for Americans losing trust in it.

For example, the one-sidedness of the Covid debate. Even when the CDC famously flip-flopped on its mask guidelines, people who questioned the efficacy of masks, lockdowns, quarantines etc. were censored or suspended from social networks and denigrated as ‘scientifically illiterate’.

Sure enough, countries which had among the strictest lockdowns and mask mandates early on in the pandemic, like Italy, Germany, NZ, China, etc. had major relapses later. Is the media going to apologize for being so wrong? Of course not.

As for those vaccines stopping the spread of Covid: nope. Exhortations to “trust the science,” became a way to dismiss valid criticism and skepticism, even when the science kept coming up short. ‘We’, the science skeptics, were right about everything, whether it was masks not working as promised (or being mixed efficacy at best) or vaccines not stopping the spread.

That review, published by the Cochrane Library, an authoritative collection of scientific databases, analyzed 18 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that aimed to measure the impact of surgical masks or N95 respirators on the transmission of respiratory viruses. It found that wearing a mask in public places “probably makes little or no difference” in the number of infections.

Science, by definition, is supposed to be provisional, with what is considered as ‘truth’ based on a critical review of the evidence, not something taken as gospel because the media or self-anointed experts said so.

Or how half of voters were seemingly branded as white nationalists. Or pleonasms about how democracy is ‘on the brink’ because the wrong candidate won, even when said candidate was democratically elected. Or how Trump contesting the results was conflated as subverting the election even though Al Gore did the same.

Or how Hillary was touted as unbeatable in 2016, and then lost. Or ‘Russiagate’, which turned up no collusion despite the insistence of the NYTs for 3 years, and even after admitting that the Trump–Russia dossier was discredited, still standing by the inquiry into Russian interference (talk about goalpost moving). The NYTs had invested so much resources into this lead that they could bring themselves to admitting they were wrong all along. Or the Covington school kids hoax. Or the ‘noosegate’ hate crime hoax. Or the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax, among many others. All of these were initially taken as ‘facts’ by the media, until one by one discredited.

Again, this is not to just pick on the liberal media. Conservative media promoted the Iraq War on a false narrative of the alleged existence of WMDs.

The media, instead of waiting for sufficient evidence and then reporting, runs with some bits to form a narrative, however tenuous, and then when wrong pretends nothing happened or issues a belated retraction or apology, long after the damage has been done to the wrongly accused (but they profited anyway).

In spite of this, the media remains relatively popular even if a lot of people don’t trust it. CNN and the NYTs still generate considerable traffic, such as on social media and apps. This is probably because, as others have noted, that the media is right enough of the time. So if CNN reports on a murder or a wildfire, there is a high likelihood that these events are true (even if any mention of the race or ethnicity or photo of the murderer is omitted if it’s an African American). Being informed, despite bias or deliberate omission of details, is preferable to being in the dark completely.

If the media stuck to reporting and less about trying to be a moral authority, maybe people would trust it more. The media can fix this but it’s more profitable to not. Sensationalism and hype means more ad clicks and page views. Until the economic incentives change, the media has little reason to.

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