The political media landscape includes a variety of access points–newspapers, radio, television, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter to name a few. There have even been “fake news” shows such as “The Daily Show” (formerly hosted by Jon Stewart) and “The Colbert Report” hosted by Stephen Colbert which is no longer on the air. “The Onion,” a satirical news Web site averages 11 million unique visitors per month. These satirical sources have often been cited as better providers of hard news that regular cable news outlets. No matter where one’s political opinion and ideology fall there are news outlets that will provide a reinforcement for that belief. In the 2016 presidential campaign Republican nominee accused the media of bias reporting against him. But news outlets such as FOX News were accused of reporting what was generally considered to false news against the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In one instance, FOX new reporter, Bret Baier was accused of reporting false information about the FBI investigation in early November into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. Mr. Baier later had walk-back this story because it was false. Is there an inherent bias in the media, whether an outlet is leaning to the Left or to the Right?

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Please read some of the information from the two Web sites which are focused on fairness and bias in the media: the non-profit media watchdog group, Media Matters and F.A.I.R–Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Take the time to review some of the articles and consider whether some news stories presented by the media are untrue, misleading or generally fair. Then discuss these questions with your classmates:

1) What should be the role of the media?

2) Is it designed to inform us or convince us of one way of thinking?

3) Or is its role to present the truth as best it can report it and allow us as consumers to make up our own minds?

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4) Are most media outlets fulfilling their role to inform and report on the news? Why or why not?

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