Is Our Mass Media Leading Us Astray
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Is Our Mass Media Leading Us Astray
For millions of people, the day begins with grabbing the TV remote and flipping on the news channels. It’s easy to do with our 21st-century proliferation of news channels and sources.
While Jesus Christ told His followers to watch and be alert to world conditions (Mark 13:35), a fixation with news and news watching can easily become a virtual addiction. Constantly following the news may make you feel connected, but what are you actually seeing and hearing? And more importantly, how does it affect your ability to properly discern the truth behind these events?
Television has replaced newspapers as a source of news over the past quarter century, along with the Internet and social media more recently. The respected Pew Research Center for Journalism and Media reports that seven in ten people in the United States watch broadcast TV news programs, both local and network, and nearly four in ten watch the cable TV news channels (“How Americans Get TV News at Home,” The Pew Research Center, Oct. 11, 2013).
Reporters used to be taught to bring out both sides of an issue when reporting a story. Opinions were reserved for the opinion pages, not the news reporting.
A drawback to TV news is that it often presents news and opinion in 30-second “sound bites” rather than the in-depth coverage text can provide. Reading a newspaper or newsmagazine requires mental effort many no longer want to expend. Newspaper readership peaked in the early 1990s and has been declining since. Thousands of newspapers have ceased publication, while others are only a thin shell of what they used to be.
Today’s media anchors and reporters are listened to by millions and held in high regard, some as virtual royalty. But are they objectively speaking the truth? Or are they espousing a particular worldview held by most reporters and editors today that tends to color the news?
A worldview that distorts reporting
Several decades ago journalism students were taught to report the news in a clear, unbiased, straightforward manner. Political motivations, personal values and the like had no place in the newsroom. Reporters were taught to bring out both sides of an issue when reporting a story. Opinions were reserved for the opinion pages, not the news reporting.
Recent decades have seen a dramatic change in journalistic approaches and ethics. Today many journalists feel free to inject their biases, personal belief systems and political views into news coverage. That a bias exists is now obvious to many observers and much of the public. It’s also well documented, even by the news industry itself.
The Pew Research Center in 2004 undertook a nationwide survey of 547 local and national reporters, editors, and executives. It showed that 34 percent of the national press identified as liberal, as opposed to 7 percent identifying as conservative (with “moderate” as the largest category). Liberal identification among national press types had shot up from 22 percent in 1995, and this trend has only continued.
After the 2008 U.S. elections, it was revealed that the Democratic Party received total donations of more than $1 million from 1,160 employees of the three major broadcast television networks (NBC, CBS, ABC), while the Republican Party received just under $143,000 via 193 donations (“Obama, Democrats Got 88% of 2008 Contributions by TV News Executives, Writers, Reporters” The Washington Examiner, Aug. 27, 2010).
“And the thing is, conservatives have a point. Study after study has shown that the mainstream media leans left, and that, as economists Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo have written, ‘an almost overwhelming fraction of journalists are liberal’” (“Conservatives Are Right: The Media Is Very Liberal,” Fortune, Nov. 2, 2015).
Factors behind a liberal bias
Why do so many in the mainstream media have these biases? The reasons are many. To begin with, most of today’s seasoned journalism veterans went to college during the turbulent times of the late 1960s and early 1970s and got caught up in the antiestablishment, left-wing causes so prevalent at the time. This formative period of great social upheaval heavily influenced their thinking and values.
Consider also that the major U.S. news organizations are concentrated in the East and West Coasts, clearly the strongholds of American liberal and progressive thought. Today more than one in eight journalists live and work in New York City alone, and a recent article in The Atlantic published a map showing that fully half of today’s journalists live and work in the Washington, D.C.-to-Boston corridor (“U.S. Media’s Real Elitism Problem,” The Atlantic, Nov. 19, 2016)
That growing coastal concentration of liberal thinking has helped to change the very culture of journalism. Numerous sources have pointed out that the media have become an elite unto themselves. Generally well educated, proud and often self-righteous, many of today’s journalists consider it their duty to shape opinion in ways they consider politically correct.
To their embarrassment, much has been made of the mainstream media’s utter failure to believe that Donald Trump had any real chance of being elected president in November 2016. As one observer noted, “It is very possible that reporters . . . dismissed Trump and Sanders because journalists couldn’t possibly fathom the deep, seething, often unspoken economic discontent that afflicts so many Americans and that has helped fuel both the Trump and Sanders movements” (Neal Gabler, “The Mainstream Media’s Big Disconnect: Why They Don’t Get Middle America,” BillMoyers.com, April 23, 2016).
Just as today’s media trash traditional values, false prophets in the Bible led the people of God to a set of false values in opposition to God’s law.
Many made no secret of their contempt for the Republican nominee and considered it their duty to work toward his defeat. Jim Rutenberg, long-time columnist for the venerable New York Times, put it this way: “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable” (“Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism,” The New York Times, Aug. 7, 2016, emphasis added throughout).
Did you grasp that? A major columnist for one of America’s oldest and most respected newspapers seemingly approves of the deliberately biased, non-objective coverage of an American presidential candidate who does not share the views of the mainstream media—a situation he says would be “untenable” by normal standards.
Yet the claim that this is outside the norm and “uncharted territory” is farcical, for the mainstream media has for a long time given quite slanted coverage in favor of liberal candidates and in opposition to conservative ones. It’s true, however, that this hasn’t seemed so unabashed before.
Modern media meets an ancient parallel
The mainstream media’s contempt for the value system that still motivates millions is open for all to see. Media elites make no secret of their open support of abortion, gay marriage, militant feminism, economic redistribution, suppression of Bible-based beliefs while promoting contrary faiths, and other liberal progressive values.
They oppose the sovereign rights of nations while espousing one-world views that call for open borders and free movement of all people throughout the world regardless of background. It’s head-scratchingly puzzling to see reporters lament the deaths and maiming of innocent people in terror attacks on Western soil and then see them in the next minute attack government efforts to restrict immigration from failed nations that churn out such terrorists by the hundreds and thousands.
Increasingly, Western journalists see their mission as selling these views to an often-reluctant populace.
But this is not without precedent. Many of those who believe in the Word of God and what it says for us may be surprised to learn that parallel conditions existed in ancient Israel. Much of the Old Testament record is a history of our ancient forebears and the times they lived in.
Was there a class of elites in the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah who took advantage of the trust of the people to deceive them, to promote ideas that would eventually lead to the ruin of the nation?
Notice what the prophet Isaiah had to say about conditions of his time: “Childish leaders oppress my people, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you; they send you down the wrong road” (Isaiah 3:12, New Living Translation).
With the passing of King Solomon and the split of the kingdom into the smaller kingdoms of Judah and Israel, national leadership was maintained by mostly evil kings and false prophets promoting one another. Following the bad advice and lead of this ancient elite class, both nations eventually went into foreign captivity.
Israel and Judah, for the most part, listened to the wrong voices—those who denigrated the law of God and instead turned the people to a form of ancient multiculturalism, adopting religious and cultural practices and customs from the pagan nations around them. We might term it religious liberalism. In simple terms, it was the worship of other gods and adoption of foreign religious customs and practices. And what was the result?
Just as today’s media trash traditional values, those prophets led the people to a set of false values in opposition to God’s law—though God warned, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
The false prophets advocated new and degenerate cultural norms, including promiscuity and homosexual activity. The rituals at pagan places of worship typically involved sex with either female or male prostitutes, depending on one’s proclivities or desires at the moment (see 1 Kings 14:24 and 2 Kings 23:7, New International Version).
Instead of strong national defense based on trust in God to fight their battles (Exodus 14:13; Deuteronomy 1:30; Nehemiah 4:20), Israel relied on alliances with the nations around them for national security. The allies often proved unreliable, even treacherous, as we see today.
Today millions believe in “reproductive rights,” a modern form of infanticide. Ancient Israel and Judah, following the norms of the pagan nations around them, practiced an even more horrible form of infanticide. Ancient false prophets condoned the sacrifice of infants to the pagan god Molech and others. Thousands and thousands of innocent children were sacrificed, with many cast into fiery furnaces to be burned alive in one of the most gruesome deaths ever developed by evil, Satan-inspired human beings.
We see a parallel today in the media’s overwhelming support of abortion, leading to the slaughter of millions of innocents. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, an estimated 58 million unborn American children have been sacrificed on the altar of convenience.
We see ample evidence of these false prophets’ religiously liberal influence over the nation in the Bible. By the time of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, at least 450 of them held sway over public opinion in ancient Israel (1 Kings 18:22). Israel had abandoned God’s law and sank into idolatry and immorality.
A national crisis had developed, and it was time for a showdown. Should the people continue to follow the path of multicultural religious liberalism or turn back to the God who brought them into the Promised Land?
Elijah summoned thousands of Israelites to a test to determine the true God who should be obeyed. Notice what he told them: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). The rest of 1 Kings 18 records how the true God made Himself unmistakably real to the people.
Results of heeding the false prophets’ lies
We have one of the clearest indications of what these false prophets taught from the book of Jeremiah, who prophesied in the southern kingdom of Judah from about 626 B.C. until after the fall of Jerusalem around 587 B.C. In Jeremiah 23, this man of God excoriates these false prophets for their teachings:
“The prophets of Samaria . . . prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray” (Jeremiah 23:13, New International Version).
“The prophets of Jerusalem . . . commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness” (Jeremiah 23:14, NIV).
“From the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land” (Jeremiah 23:15, NIV).
“The prophets . . . speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:16, NIV).
The book of Jeremiah describes a nation in decline, a nation that had already lost much of its liberty and yet stubbornly refused to repent of its evil ways. Rather than heed Jeremiah’s repeated calls for a return to God, the nation continued to listen to and heed the wrong voices. “Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their glory for what does not profit” (Jeremiah 2:11).
Historians have drawn parallels between America and the Roman Empire, and we can also draw parallels between America and ancient Israel and Judah. Just as false prophets in Israel of old caused God’s chosen people to forsake the laws and values He had given them, so today’s media elites sway public opinion towards a humanistic, godless mindset. Sadly, the record shows they have largely succeeded.
Listening to the wrong voices brought Israel and Judah to disaster. And listening to those wrong voices today is leading to America’s decline that will end in similar disaster.
In these tumultuous times, all of us must make a choice. Will you choose to follow the masses as the nation continues its downward moral slide, or will you swim against the current? It’s time to understand the agenda of today’s self-appointed prophets in our mainstream media agenda, and learn instead the source of real truth—God’s unshakable Word!