Viewers See What They Want

Well, what an election it has been. America has spoken and spoken loud.
They want George W. Bush for another four years. It was interesting to watch the different media outlets during the night of the election.
Flipping back and forth between Fox, CNN, ABC and NBC, I was able to watch the attitudes and reactions of the different anchors.
You had Brit Hume at Fox who was reserved, stoic and calm.
Over at CNN, Wolf Blitzer was having a heart attack, stating that Ohio was ‘too close to call’ even though the vote count was 138,000 in favor of Bush.
At NBC, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert were pretty relaxed and calling it for Bush in Ohio.
Peter Jennings from ABC took the cake, though. Just before White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card gave his speech at the Ronald Reagan building in D.C., Jennings interviewed the Republican national chairman, Ed Gillespie.
During the interview, Jennings asked Gillespie what it meant to say that the most important issue people voted on was faith.
Gillespie did not want to speculate and stated that the American public voted not just on that, but on security issues, the economy, Medicare, etc. Jennings asked him what the White House should say in regard to the close election in Ohio.
Gillespie, being smart, stated he would leave that to the White House.
Jennings seemed perturbed and asked him very harshly, ‘Without giving me any spin, can you tell me why the majority of Americans believe faith is the most important issue when voting?’
Spin? Faith? Importance? If there is anyone dividing America, it is the major media outlets.
Be it the right with Fox or the left with CBS, the media are the ones that decide what the decisive issues will be.
Do you remember the flu shot epidemic? Old people were dying in long lines all over America as they waited for their flu shots. This was a major issue per the media and it was all Bush’s fault. It became a divisive issue.
Now, we find out that the flu season is starting off lighter than expected. Two weeks ago we were all going to die. Do the candidates really divide America, or does the media?
I believe it is the media. However, I will go one step further: The media makes the issues based on what Americans want to hear and then America falls in lockstep with what they tell us to think.
We no longer have nonpartisan, objective media in America. News outlets are in the business of making money and they do so by pandering to their audience.
You cannot sit there and tell me that Bill O’Reilly is fair and balanced. His agenda is as clear as Rush Limbaugh’s. The same holds true for Wolf Blitzer and Dan Rather.
They can get away with their skewed views because the viewers who watch want to hear those views. If you are a screaming liberal, you will not get your information from Rush. If you are a right-wing fascist, you will not go to Dan to hear his take on world events.
We listen to what we want to hear.
We have become the ones who are no longer objective. We live in a Burger King world, where, in an effort to make a quick buck, the media outlets have given us what we want.
This symbiotic relationship is dangerous, though.
While the news can pretend to give us a fair and objective story, the truth is that we get what we want to hear.
That leads to the ultimate question: How much of what we hear is real, spin, doctored or just a flat-out lie?
As it stands now, my answer would be all of the above. We need to become more open-minded. We are capable. When we achieve this, the media will follow in lockstep with America.

Cameron Jackson is a fourth-year political science major. You can contact him at