Conservatives do not trust the media. Not much of a news flash, I know. But it's true, and every time my left-leaning Democratic friends hear the clarion call "fake news," they just roll their eyes in disgust.
I get it. I do too often, but there is also much truth to our frustration. My goal is to try to shrink the divide between left and right and be perhaps a Dr. Phil of politics. OK, maybe, some were hoping for Dr. Ruth, but we are talking about politics, people.
As a conservative myself, I have worked doubly hard to listen to both or all sides, if you include Libertarians, extreme left Bernie Brothers, etc. I try - yes, try - to listen to NPR, and usually enjoy the nerdy, geeky Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight.com podcast. But I learn most when left- and right-pundits share the stage together to actually debate issues.
What I have learned from listening to the FOX right and the MSNBC left is that both are creating a narrative that is out of balance and warped, but is exactly what their viewers want to hear. How do I know this? Because I have had frustrating conversations with both camps, and sometimes it's like talking to natives in Papa New Guinea who just give me a frozen gaze - a "no, I don't get you" look.
Both left and right are hooked on the high-carb diet of confirmation bias. They purposely seek out information that confirms their thinking, belief system, and view of the political world. So, we end up with an electorate that is fat and lazy - which would be funny if it were not for the online fights - and now, real street brawls - that are happening before our eyes.
So, with that said, now let us criticize the media's role that is contributing to this high-fat diet of bias narratives.
Gallup reported this: "45 percent of all Americans See More News Bias; Most Can't Name Neutral Source" and "Twenty-six percent of Democrats versus 67 percent of Republicans perceive a great deal of political bias in news coverage. Independents fall more squarely between."
So it is not just conservatives who see a problem with media reporting, but almost 50 percent of American do. It is a growing problem for not only mainstream media, but media at-large. And it all starts with the narrative.
Right now, the narrative in mainstream media is that Trump is to blame for the shooting in Pittsburgh. Just read through the New York Times, Washington Post, et al, and if the headlines don't make it clear, try reading a few paragraphs into any one of these stories, and you will see the narrative they are pushing.
"For Julia Santucci, there was without question a connection between what she saw as President Trump's 'fearmongering' about an immigrant invasion and the deadliest attack on American Jews in the nation's history, a few miles from her home."
That is a strong narrative to publish: Without question, Trump is to blame for the shooting. Wow. So if you dare question this narrative, you have just entered land mines of emotions, because those who are feeding from this narrative are not going to respond too kindly to your questioning the "unquestionable."
Pushing a narrative is not reporting; it's - well, pushing a narrative, and it is easy to do.
Mainstream media will continue to lose the trust of the American people if they continue down this path. Reasonable people who read many sources of media can see through the biases, but most do not. Yes, the media is culpable for feeding the public what it wants to hear, not what it should hear: the facts, the truth.
Albert Soto owns The Drip, a Tahlequah coffee house, and just opened a new location in Owasso.