In his book “Manufacturing Consent”, Noam Chomsky details his theory of the “propaganda model” which attempts to explain the way in which the media works in a capitalist society, with news outlets consistently distributing news that will align with the interests of those in the upper echelons of the political and the economical spheres.
This idea of systematic bias in the media is one which asserts that the corporate media will usually only report on things that will go along with the establishment position and support the corporations and the people in power who own the companies which distribute the mainstream news.
The current Presidential race has thrown up fresh examples of such bias towards certain candidates who would be seen to support the establishment political positions and against others who seem to be bringing fresh ideas of genuine change to the system in the United States.
A recent article on DecisionData.org demonstrated this quite aptly. The website looked at the number of Google Searches each candidate received from June to the present day, and then placed this number side by side with the number of mainstream press mentions they have received. You would expect the two numbers to be reasonably proportional, especially within the same party, but the numbers do not represent that expectation.
Establishment politician Hillary Clinton, who has been significantly involved in the present administration and whose husband has been President before, was the subject of 9,235,231 Google Searches and 87,737 mainstream media mentions. Compare that to Bernie Sanders, whose big policies are to break up the big banks of America and fight against the machine of Corporate America – and therefore clearly a problem for the mainstream media, owned by big American Corporations, received a massive 21,536,032 Google Searches, but a tiny 29,525 mentions in the mainstream media.
Journalist Eric Alterman wrote a book about media bias in the US, and interestingly noted:
“The reporter, the editor, the producer and executive producer all understand implicitly that their jobs depend in part on keeping their corporate parents happy”
It seems therefore that when gathering stories, writing copy and presenting news to audiences on television, journalists working for large corporations, owned by those with vested interests in their values, ideals and political positions upheld, certain things need to be held back in order to protect that.
Chomsky lists the five filters that determine what the media will write about, with the first three particularly important: the ownership of the medium, the mediums source of funding, and their sources.
MinnPost’s David Schultz writes that these large, for-profit corporations which own the news companies generally share a pro-business bias, meaning a man like Bernie Sanders, who challenges economic inequality, corporate power, the legitimacy of capitalism and fights against Wall Street, will not toe the line and will not be beneficial to these companies if he were in power.
For these reasons, Sanders’ own campaign have asked for attention to be drawn to what they have called a “Bernie Blackout”, due to the serious lack of coverage despite his success in polls and popularity among Democrat voters. His campaign manager Jeff Weaver stated:
“The corporately-owned may not like Bernie’s anti-establishment views but for the sake of American democracy they must allow for a fair debate in this presidential campaign. Bernie must receive the same level of coverage on the nightly news as other leading candidates.”