What Ever Happened to the Media and the American Spirit?

Letitia Wright

Letitia Wright was bullied into taking down her Twitter account for exercising her freedom of speech and questioning the medias narrative.

Blake Darmante, Broadcast Editor

When I first started this article I was prepared to argue my political position on the election, but what I realized is that there is a bigger idea to keep in mind. Now, I could share how I feel about the election, still, the chances are I’d probably end up offending some of my audience and I really wanted to do that as little as possible, so, I tried to create something everyone could get behind. The fact is, anybody would be lying if they said they didn’t have their own opinions and there is nothing wrong with people having their opinions. What is wrong, is when we as society deem certain opinions more valuable or correct than others and that is exactly what I see happening in the USA right now. We as a society have allowed ourselves to become upset at those who think differently and the media, which has a way of reigning over people, has taken that a step further. The media has fed the division and kept people at odds all the meanwhile hiding any views that they (the media) disagree with. Americans don’t need permission to disagree and that is what makes this country so great. When voices are silenced we hand over that freedom. 

News of the 2020 presidential election has become one of the most heated topics not just in the USA, but in the entire world and while everyone has their own idea of what the truth behind the election is, there is one truth that all can be sure of. At the end of the day, our identity as Americans is not found in any single political party or candidate, it is instead found in the idea that we are all one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Unfortunately, the recent election has tainted this foundational virtue of America. US citizens are divided by their political affiliations and view those with different dispositions as threats or even enemies. Trump supporters believe Democrats illegally manipulated the voting system and Biden supporters believe Republicans are harming democracy by challenging the election system. The divide is only growing and it is not too extreme to speculate that the road ahead could include civil war if Americans do not unite to uphold constitutional values. How did we as a country get here? The answer lies within a corrupt media and what it has done to the American spirit. 

The media as a whole plays an important role in American society, keeping the nation entertained and up to date, but with a new technological age where consumption is treated like air and information is easier than ever to access, there is zero shortage of corruption taking place. Americans essentially worship media and the vast majority of citizens consume it in some form on a daily basis whether that be the news, a social platform, etc. Since the nation relies so heavily on the media for various reasons, it can be difficult to see it for what it is. The reality of all media is that everything presented has some angle or form of bias. While the media has the constitutional right to uphold a bias i.e. “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” there is also a danger associated with this. Just because the media has the freedom to say what it wants, that doesn’t make it true or that the truth is being presented in its entirety. Furthermore, modern media has introduced a concept known as the “fact check.” “Fact checks” are an unreliable source of information because they are modified to meet the views of the organization presenting “the facts” and for people who take everything they consume at face value, which I would say is a majority of the US population, that is extremely problematic. A Pulitzer winning fact checker, PolitiFact, is one example of why fact checkers can cause problems with those who don’t self-check information. Statisticians across multiple internet websites have tallied up PolitiFact results and found that the fact engine has a left-leaning bias and uses evidence from left-leaning sources to cite fact. An article on Politico.com by Dylan Byers titled “Study:PolitiFact says Republicans lie more,” is just one of many internet sites that have documented proof of the above claim. PolitiFact is a left-leaning fact checker that shifts its information to match up with their narrative and if you look hard enough, you can find a right-leaning fact checker that does the very same, still, both “leans” can be misleading. The common issue is that all fact checkers have bias and that in turn affects what you consume. 

Image courtesy of the New York Times
The NYT has a special set of articles all designed to debunk misinformation. However, what one publication considers misinformation, another publication might consider fact.

Another strategy that the media uses is misinformation. Many media sources freely share so-called “misinformation” to further reinforce their agendas. One of the most popular news publications, the New York Times (NYT), has a special string of articles all dedicated to pinpointing and debunking misinformation, but when you venture beyond the scope of the NYT you find that one publication’s misinformation is another publication’s fact. Sadly, many Americans base their beliefs on these fact checks and misinformation releases which puts the internal stability of the USA at great risk.  

The American spirit and values that come with it are all but compromised in the aftermath of the 2020 election and much of that can be credited to the media. The American spirit was once about putting aside our differences to band together and remove tyranny so we the people could build a new country free of manipulative control. While we have done away with threats such as the British of the 18th century, America faces a new breed of tyrant originating from the media today known as censorship. It is a widely held belief that censorship is a form of protection. However, what it really does is create classifications of what is right and wrong. As a consumer, if you are told something is wrong, but you are not given all the information, it becomes impossible to decide for yourself, leaving you to blindly trust your source. Even though censorship may not appear like tyranny, it is still another form of controlling Americans. Moreover, censorship forces American values to be in line with the media. Go to any media platform you use for information and search COVID-19, chances are you will find a narrative encouraging you to follow CDC guidelines and “hang in there” till a vaccine comes out. It is no secret that the media censors anything that contrasts their narrative, marking information that goes against the CDC or vaccines as conspiracy, fallacy, and misinformation. Recently, actress Letitia Wright, known for her role in Black Panther, turned to multiple media outlets, including YouTube and Twitter, to express her weariness of the coming vaccine by reposting an anti-vaccination video. YouTube removed the video from its database promptly, but the battle that ensued over Twitter was a little more complicated. Wright, though she did receive some praise, was harassed so aggressively for sharing her opinions that she deleted her account. In one of her final posts, according to Twitter she wrote, “My intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies. Nothing else.”

Wright wasn’t after anyone, she was simply asking a harmless question, but because it didn’t align within the media’s wall of censorship, she was treated as if she had made some radical, inappropriate comment. There was little understanding of Wright from the people and barely any examination of her true character or intentions. Wright would later comment,

“If you don’t conform to popular opinions. But ask questions and think for yourself…you get cancelled.” said Wright.

 This is part of a heart-breaking display of how censorship has relocated American spirit and values to the point where people no longer examine others outside the scope of the media. On a larger scale, US citizens judge their leaders on both sides for their comments on various media platforms over their morals and actions. If the American spirit was great enough to remove the authority of an entire country, it is surely great enough to remove the authority and censorship of the media. 

The United States of America has experienced much strife as a result of a redefined American spirit and corrupt media. Americans are taught to trust crooked fact checks and misinformation reports. The American spirit that once united people of different beliefs, has been replaced to divide people by their beliefs. The situation is not hopeless though. If we the people, knowing all sources have an agenda, then take all accounts, opinions, and sources into consideration in addition to setting aside our prejudices, we can find the greater community that brought forth this nation as well as the truth. I know checking the media is easier said than done, at the same time I also believe that we as a people sell ourselves short when we don’t find answers for ourselves. The media has worked so tirelessly to create division with the current election that we have lost sight of how they are controlling us. Being united is the most important part of sustaining America and at no point should we let anything, no matter how important we might think it is, stand in the way of that. Presidents come and go, but the American spirit, the way we treat each  other, never will.