Magenta Nation – Fakchex

Portland,,Or,,Usa,-,Feb,1,,2021:,Cnn,And,Fox

You may have heard statements such as “The left owns the media,” or “The right owns the media.” The implication is that the news media – to whom millions of Americans turn for information – is biased in favor of one perspective or another, depending on the political biases of the owners.

Is this true? Who actually owns and operates America’s traditional news ecosystem, and do their political beliefs determine how the news is covered?

The first answer to this question – who owns American media – is simple:  billionaires. Many of the most prominent news outlets are owned by wealthy families and individuals who have consolidated media empires. These billionaires have both liberal and conservative personal political leanings.

  • Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, purchased the Washington Post. Bezos has not personally declared strong support for either Democrats nor Republicans and tends to give to PACS and to causes versus either party.
  • Rupert Murdoch holds ownership and influence at The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, and of course Fox News, among other media. He and his media, especially Fox News, are known for a conservative perspective.
  • CNN has been under the umbrella of Warner Bros. Discovery since 2022, an operation run by David Zaslav and potentially influenced by conservative-leaning investor John Malone, who has said that his thinking aligns closely with that of Rupert Murdoch.
  • CBS is now under Paramount Global, formerly known as Viacom, which had been controlled by the Redstone family. Sumner Redstone had described himself as a liberal Democrat who nevertheless endorsed George W. Bush in 2004.
  • Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City, founded and owns Bloomberg News. Bloomberg was a Democrat until 2001, when he switched to the Republican party and ran for mayor. He became independent in 2007 and registered again as a Democrat in 2018.
  • Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, acquired the majority stake in The Atlantic in 2017. She is aligned with Democratic causes.
  • The Sinclair Broadcast Group, owned by members of the Sinclair family, owns more than 190 news stations across the country. It is known for taking a conservative perspective in its coverage, mandating that its networks run pro-Trump content and commentaries and promote conservative-leaning messages.

And while they aren’t technically news networks or publishers of traditional media,  billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg own the platforms that many people use to keep up with current events: X and Facebook (Meta), respectively. Elon Musk has said he is an independent and political moderate who has in the past voted for Democrats, but intends to vote Republican and has become a conservative. Zuckerberg says he is neither Democrat nor Republican; for different reasons, both sides tend to view him with skepticism, primarily because of how his social media empire influences voters.

From this analysis two conclusions emerge:

  • Wealthy people, by owning media outlets, are in a position to influence the news we receive. Whether they exercise this influence to promote their own political beliefs varies – some do, and some strive for neutrality.
  • Neither liberals nor conservatives control the U.S. news media. Some media lean one way, some another, and some strive for objective neutrality.

Knowing the political bent of those who own media outlets can be useful in determining if you are getting biased or unbiased news. However, using one’s critical thinking skills to note instances of bias and one-sidedness is the “acid test” to recognize objectivity. Also, a quick look at sources such as www.allsides.com can help you identify the outlets that are most objective and centrist.

If you want to know even more details about how media ownership breaks down, check out a thorough index compiled by Harvard University.

Thank you for reading this Fakchex article. Please share this article and join us in the fight to combat disinformation.

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Fakchex presents short, fact-based articles and videos on topics about which there is considerable disinformation. It is the only grassroots communication program that helps people personally combat disinformation. Fakchex articles are designed for sharing with people who care about these topics, but may not be aware of the facts OR may not have time to research them on their own. Together, we can combat the powerful forces of disinformation that prevent us from coming together to realistically address our problems and opportunities.

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