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The Battalion

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The media’s double standard

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Sam Somogye reviews media coverage over a series of presidential administrations and highlights the favorable media bias towards Joe Biden. 

The other day I woke up, rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make my morning coffee. The first thing I do while my coffee is brewing is turn on the news to see what headline will dominate the daily news cycle. Given everything going on in the world, I was a little surprised one of the leading stories involved Major Biden, and no, that is not a military son of President Joe Biden. It’s one of his German shepherds. 

Apparently the pooch has been aggressive while living at the White House and it caught the attention of major networks and was even trending on Twitter. My immediate response to this story was, “Who the hell cares?”

The story of the president’s canine best friend is indicative of a much larger point to be made: With a Democrat in office, much of the media is playing softball. 

It’s no secret that former President Donald Trump was extremely newsworthy. During his tenure in office, his tweets alone made headlines daily, receiving criticism and often, rightfully so. However, the contrast between the two administrations and their media coverage is stark and troubling. 

One example of this is our southern border crisis. When Trump was president, much of the media referred to detention centers as “kids in cages.” With Biden at the helm, the media now refers to similar facilities as “migrant facilities for children.” It must be noted that these centers for teenagers are not the same ones for which the Trump Administration was criticized. Nonetheless, I am convinced that if this occurred during the Trump Administration, there would be far more scrutiny and overall coverage of the policy. 

Another example is the current sexual allegation suits being brought forward accusing New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct. When Brett Kavanugh, a conservative Supreme Court justice, was in the process of Senate confirmation, sexual assault accusations came out against him. A CNN headline from the time reads, “Woman accuses Kavanaugh of assault in letter to Senator.” In CNN’s coverage of Cuomo, the headline breaking the story was: “Cuomo denies former aide’s sexual harassment allegations.” By the way, this story came out almost a full 24 hours after the reports of sexual misconduct hit the wires. The framing and bias in this instance alone are clear. 

Overall, it seems as if Biden does not get as much media coverage as Trump did. This could simply be due to the fact that Trump was a far more controversial figure. However, controversial or not, each administration should be held to the same standard, which is not happening with Biden in office. 

A recent Gallup poll found only nine percent of Americans trust mass media “a great deal” and only 31 percent trust mass media “a fair amount.” These numbers are hardly surprising, especially since  67 percent of U.S. adults have seen their news sources present factual evidence to favor one side of the political aisle. The route the mass media is going down is a dark one, and unfortunately there does not seem to be a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. 

With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, a historic, though partisan, spending bill on the verge of becoming law and a crisis at the Southern border, the last thing I care to hear about is the president’s dog. Regrettably, this is what a biased media has led to. 

If the mass media wants to regain the trust of the American people, it must do better. Reliable journalism and reporting is a pillar of a functioning democracy. If only a small fraction of the American people trust this pillar, it says little about our democracy. 

Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion.
 

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