6 in 10 Americans think the media spreads misinformation. Here’s why

They're right.

Today is World Press Freedom Day, but many Americans don’t even trust the press.

The Associated Press reported Monday, “Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults say the news media is increasing political polarization in this country, and just under half say they have little to no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.”

Findings include a whopping 74% of Americans saying the media does more to increase political divisions. Meanwhile, only 6% said media decreases those divisions and 18% didn’t respond. The story added, “Overall, about 6 in 10 said the news media bears blame for the spread of misinformation, and a similar percentage also said it has a large amount of responsibility for addressing it.”

It’s true. The U.S. media is keen on spreading misinformation. They do have a responsibility to make corrections when they’re wrong.

Which they don’t.

Ostensibly, a World Press Freedom Day would be a celebration of the ability of countries to have a free press, one not restricted or dictated to by the government. The duty of those presses would be to find facts, challenge the government, and report the truth. 

But today’s press is more often a gatekeeper for the government and dutifully protects its official narratives.

Let’s start with a glaring recent example. In 2020, the New York Post reported that an obtained laptop belonging to Hunter Biden contained emails that allegedly showed corruption on the part of his father, Joe Biden. More than 50 former intelligence officials reportedly said it was ‘Russian disinformation.’ Joe Biden said it was that too. Politico originally reported the supposed disinformation explanation. Virtually every other major news outlet reported the same.

It was settled. The establishment narrative was the correct one. No need to ask further questions.

Then at least one reporter verified the emails. Turns out they were genuine. Then the Washington Post admitted the laptop story was real. The New York Times soon followed suit.

But did these major news outlets make corrections much less, apologize? None to my knowledge.

Why would they? Today’s press had done its job. It protected the powerful. That mission is now more important than telling or at least seeking what’s true.  

Even after the Hunter Biden emails were shown to be legit, the White House still wasn’t having it.

Here’s another example. When some speculated years ago that the COVID-19 virus might have come from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, mainstream politicians and the press automatically called it a “conspiracy theory.” 

This cockamamie ‘lab leak’ notion went directly against the government narrative and by golly, the media wasn’t going to let U.S. officials down.

As more information became available, more and more news outlets stopped labeling the lab leak theory a “conspiracy theory” and by February of this year, the New York Times finally reported, “New intelligence has prompted the Energy Department to conclude that an accidental laboratory leak in China most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic.”

It wasn’t the press’s vigorous pursuit of the truth that led to this conclusion. Few to no ‘journalists’ wanted any discussion of the lab leak theory. They wanted anyone holding those views to be mocked. The ultimate revelation was due in part to Rand Paul constantly haranguing Dr. Anthony Fauci and other government officials over this. (Ironically, a U.S. senator was a more effective journalist than the bulk of the American press.)

That’s crazy.

Just last week, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. did an interview for ABC News where he was allowed to express his views.

But when it came to his views on COVID-19 and vaccines, ABC News said it used its ‘editorial judgment’ and decided to not share Mr. Kennedy’s opinion with their audience.

Now, I don’t know what he said. He could have said COVID came from Joe Exotic and Tide Pods were the best cure. It didn’t matter what he said. He’s a public and newsworthy figure and his views should be seen to let viewers decide.

That’s what a traditional press would do. But that’s not what we have. The American press parroted whatever the CDC said throughout the pandemic, much of which was completely wrong, and apparently are now deciding they get to dictate what their audience believes about that issue.

There’s still a government line on COVID. And the press is still protecting it.

The only astounding thing about 6 in 10 Americans blaming the media for spreading misinformation is what could the other 4 possibly be thinking. These are just three examples, but even a casual observer of today’s legacy media can glean that mainstream media is far more interested in being the comms department for the federal government than delivering anything to the citizenry that resembles what most people think of as “the news.”

On this World Press Freedom Day, America technically still has a free press. It just chooses to no longer exercise that freedomlest it make its real boss mad.

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Jack Hunter
Jack Hunterhttp://LibertyTree.com
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the former politics editor for Rare.us.