Sorting Facts from Fiction: From CNN to Breitbart

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018


It doesn’t matter what office you work in, or to which party you belong. As a congressional intern, you do news clips. This means you sort through stories that pertain to whoever you work for.  

I worked in both Democrat and Republican offices, so I saw a fair amount of media outlets being shown to the staff. That’s not to say this is necessarily bad, as I gained knowledge from press releases, and quotes from various sources like The Hill, Politico, Drudge Report, and The Washington Examiner.

All media has a bias, some just choose not to acknowledge this. I could rave on and on about mainstream outlets; I could probably even write a book about it. The main takeaway would be this: get the facts straight.

For instance, let’s examine this popular CNN article, titled, “Two Time Iraq War Vet Now Deported.”

The headline was a dead give away, quite literally giving the reader only one option if they want to seem like they have a conscience: blame the Trump Administration, and cast the hardline immigration policy as evil.

This opinion is acceptable to have, as anyone can think anything they want to (welcome to Freedom of Speech) but then, there are those who actually read the article.

“Perez was born in Mexico and legally came to the United States at age 8 when his father, Miguel Perez Sr., a semi-pro soccer player, moved the family to Chicago because of a job offer, Perez told CNN earlier. He has two children born in the United States. His parents and one sister are now naturalized American citizens, and another sister is an American citizen by birth.”

Sounds good so far. So what happened?

“In 2010, he was convicted in Cook County, Illinois, on charges related to delivering more than 2 pounds of cocaine to an undercover officer. He was sentenced to 15 years and his green card was revoked. He had served half his sentence when ICE began deportation proceedings. He had been in the agency’s custody since 2016.”

Understandably, this man served our country in the military, and that should not be taken lightly; however, he also broke the laws that he swore an oath to protect. In addition, this article states the issue of his mental health, which is a valid concern — but even if those concerns are legitimate, selling two pounds of cocaine to an undercover cop does not exempt you from punishment.

But conservatives shouldn’t start running and cheering in the streets just yet… The same kind of bias happen on their own side.

The right-wing news source Breitbart always packs a punch. Their content may be unsettling to some, but that doesn’t mean their articles are entirely false. In fact, just because one piece of journalism is lousy from any particular news source, does not mean the entire site is to be dismissed as such. When I did news clips for a Republican member of the House of Representatives, he was sometimes quoted on the website.

Anything from the conservative outlet is sometimes cast as propaganda for the Trump Administration and associated with the alt-right. This is why Ben Shapiro, a notable conservative speaker and Editor in Chief of The Daily Wire resigned from the organization when no action was taken when then Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of assault on Shapiro’s colleague, Michelle Fields.

Here are three examples of the same story about the expulsion of the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. by different news outlets: Breitbart, The Guardian, (for kicks and giggles) CNN.

All of the articles say the same thing, and they get to the point, with the majority of each plainly stating facts that pertain to what happened.  The point being: when conservative outlets agree with the mainstream, they aren’t the problem; it’s when they go against the narrative that they become an issue.

Another example would be Breitbart’s coverage of the David Hogg and Laura Ingraham’s twitter feud.  After Ingraham merely commented on his college rejections letters with a mild criticism, a move Ben Shapiro believed was unwise, Hogg retaliated by asking his followers to boycott advertisers of her show. Despite your opinion on either person, it is objectively true to say one “controversial” tweet should not be met with complete vitriol. For example: if Mr. Hogg had done something similar, would his dialogue be met with the same hatred?

The same story was covered by Mother Jones in a much more tilted tone.

In the video posted by TMZ on Tuesday, Hogg appears gracious as he reflects on the string of rejection letters. He acknowledges the disappointment but says that his mind has been focused on the movement.”

Now, this is half opinion, and half pro-narrative. He could be very gracious and committed to his cause that’s fine.  Here is another unjust slant on Ingram’s take:

“That, however, hasn’t stopped conservatives from mocking Hogg. Fox News host Laura Ingraham went as far as to deride Hogg for the ‘totally predictable’ rejections in light of Hogg’s GPA and SAT scores.

At the end of the day, facts don’t care what outlet you read, or what degree you have. Having a doctorate in Gender Studies or a law degree from Harvard isn’t as meaningful when the dialogue you spew is rooted in false premises and distorted facts that come from your emotions instead of hard truths.

Mainly, even as a more right-leaning centrist, I would advise everyone out there to read anything that comes from an opposing view. If you glanced at the article that held Shapiro’s resignation, you’d have noticed it was from BuzzFeed. I happen to dislike their tilt on the news immensely, but I read their articles like I read any other source. If you can argue something objectively, precisely, and without sounding condescending, the point gets across. Unfortunately, those tactics are cast aside in this era of political distaste.

All in all, if what you read is solely for confirmation bias, you’re doing it wrong.

If you need some assistance trying to figure out the ideological tilt of some news, thank the University of Michigan and Pew Research.

Juan Ayala is a Masters student studying Public Policy with a passion for legislative affairs and all things politics. Previously, he interned in the House and Senate for both parties working with congressional staffers and numerous federal agencies. His free time consists of reading and trying different whiskey’s.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Juan Ayala

George Mason University

Juan Ayala is a Masters student studying Public Policy with a passion for legislative affairs and all things politics. Previously, he interned in the House and Senate for both parties working with congressional staffers and numerous federal agencies. His free time consists of reading and trying different whiskey’s.

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