Complaints and grievances about media bias are nothing new, yet the constant, decades-long clamor about unfair and twisted coverage has done absolutely nothing to halt seemingly ceaseless and pervasive examples of journalistic malfeasance.
These boundless bouts of bias that have made headlines over and over again in perpetuity have created a toxic distrust — an iniquitous suspicion and cynicism that is further fuelling not only our ideological divides but also our current public health crisis.
The latest example of the biases we have come to know all too well comes from none other than Katie Couric, who purportedly withheld controversial quotes from a 2016 interview with the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an effort to “protect” Ginsburg from furor.
Though anecdotal, this story — taken in a collective with others like it — exposes a variety of troubling realities about the state of our media and the disparity with which mainstream outlets treat prominent Republicans and Democrats.
The perception among most conservatives and Christians in America today is that people within their camps would hardly be given the same consideration or “protection” that Ginsburg received from Couric.
And after years of such examples emerging, why would they think otherwise?
The press’ progressive sway is troubling on its own merits, but there is a far more damaging and perilous consideration that it births: a rigid, steel-like trust barrier has been erected between the press and large swaths of the general public.
A recent Gallup poll found that just 36% of Americans trust the press to “report the news fully, accurately and fairly.” That proportion is down 4 percentage points since 2016 and is the second-lowest on record.
The partisan breakdown, though, offers even more compelling context surrounding the crisis at hand. While 68% of Democrats have a fair or a great deal of trust in the press, just 31% of independents and 11% of Republicans feel the same.
The people most likely to be “protected” or positively framed are unshockingly the most likely to trust in our media institutions — and that’s saying something.
These statistics should serve as a dire gut-check for every mainstream media outlet in America, as the consequences of this diabolical dynamic are far more profound than many progressives are willing to recognize.
Even if one disagrees that there’s a pervasive liberal media bias afoot, the failure to take steps to correct these perceived blights, as well as the media’s digging in on various anti-conservative narratives, has done anything but regain public trust.
If your goal is to get people to trust you about masks, vaccines and death rates, perhaps your tactics shouldn’t involve demeaning, ignoring relevant questions or attempting to shut down discussion. If your aim is to inform, perhaps your tactics shouldn’t involve blind advocacy.
As the world continues to struggle nearly two years in the grip of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the media should be doing everything in their power to take steps to bolster public trust rather than embrace narratives that seem to further sway collective coverage to the left.
If people’s lives depend on being educated about the pandemic — and they do — then mainstream outlets should be bridging these divides, not continuing to sow the very distrust that has created chasms and inadvertently perpetuated the dangers of this pandemic.
• Billy Hallowell is a journalist, commentator and digital TV host who has covered thousands of faith and culture stories. He is the director of content and communications at Pure Flix, and previously served as the senior editor at Faithwire and the former faith and culture editor at TheBlaze.