When two major news publications practiced bias journalism, the legitimacy of our current president was called into question. Publishing unsubstantiated claims and possibly false information has lead to the continued polarization and division of this nation.
CNN and BuzzFeed reported allegations of Russian interference in the presidential election on Jan. 10. Earlier that day, CNN released reports suggesting the possibility of compromising information on Trump held by the Russian government. This led BuzzFeed to release a 35 page file, collected by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, on information that had not yet been legitimized.
We can assume that the motives behind both CNN and BuzzFeed’s actions were purely based on the obvious biases present in both publications. While journalists have a duty to inform the public of current events, they also must be held accountable for providing accurate information. They have this obligation because, as trusted journalists, people look to them for correct information with minimal bias. Unbiased reporting gives the public the power to formulate personal views and call for change themselves.
Living in a democracy, our obligation as citizens is to vote in major elections. When our opinions are swayed by false news, we begin to lose our personal freedoms. How are we supposed to make informed decisions about future leaders of this nation when we are getting our views from sources that purposely manipulate our thoughts so that our opinions are no longer our own?
Since the election, clear opposition toward Trump’s presidency has been evident in major cities all across the country. The release of documents by Buzzfeed and CNN can also be viewed as a protest to not only Trump but to the election system in general. Showing these documents did raise suspicions on Trump, but doing so also led some to question the constitutionality of the election itself. News media is a powerful tool used to educate the public, but when its power is abused, people may start to distrust the media. This causes big gaps between “news media” released by major broadcasting networks such as FOX News and CNN, while further increasing the tensions between Republicans and Democrats.
Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, released a statement saying “Americans can make up their own minds about the documents.” However, left wing hypocrisy was evident when in the early stages of the election CNN told viewers reading WikiLeaks was illegal and to let CNN discern and interpret the relevant contents of the release. Yet, when information was released regarding Trump’s Russian activities, the validity of the content was left up to audience discretion. When the Democratic party felt like its candidate Hillary Clinton was being threatened by the news media, the party hid behind CNN’s interpretation. But when Trump was scrutinized, CNN said the public has a right to interpret it for themselves.
Later, Brian Stelter from CNN compared what BuzzFeed had released to Wikileaks, describing how unprofessional the action was. This is ironic because it was CNN who had first discussed the documents. CNN attempted to let BuzzFeed take the blame for the incident, but it did not take any fault. BuzzFeed dumped an article online without knowing whether or not it was factual. But, it was also CNN which first discussed the documents and the possibility of Trump’s involvement in Russian affairs. So it is completely professional to discuss documents without knowing the legitimacy of them, but it is unprofessional to release them?
Multiple news outlets spent weeks trying to ascertain if the potential story had any factual backing. Despite their best efforts, not one was able to find anything of use. BuzzFeed still released the documents, leaving the public to decipher the truth. News media needs to stray away from biased reporting and focus on factual evidence. The documents should have never been released. It is evident that both CNN and BuzzFeed have not been objective in their reporting, nor neutral in their bias.