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America’s Religious War: Checking the Bias

So, given Naomi Wolf’s warnings to not simply swallow the news reported from the government about ISIS, we should perhaps take a look at the bias in the various outlets reporting on ISIS.

While “bias” has become synonymous with ideological bias, this is not exactly what I mean (although since this bias shapes editorial philosophy, it’s still relevant). In this case, I am referring to the media outlets themselves.

As with the rush to war in 2003, also against Iraq, the news media can – in the eagerness to cover the lead-up to war – become an important cog in the war machine. From Fox to MSNBC to Al Jazeera America, ISIL are the bad guys and there is no way around it.

Which, I must confess is my own bias as well. So when they say they’ve beheaded another innocent journalist or aid worker, I am inclined to believe it. Yet, having served in Iraq in 2005, I know that wars are giant money pits.

For example, Leon Panetta, by all accounts a respected and believable public servant, has joined the ranks of the Obama critics and said that the “war” against radical Islam will take 30 years or more. Oh, and he also has a book out that he’d very much like you to buy.

There is also the fact that war sells papers and gets the clicks and viewers that news organizations rely on for profit. While back when media was limited, they could exercise more discretion, the need for ratings is why CNN spent a month looking for flight MH370. We started packaging our news as entertainment, and every show needs a good villain.

Yet, this is not to suggest that most or any of the news stories about ISIL are false (outside of the obvious). So, we’re less likely to be lied into a war (again) but we could face an even bigger problem because of how important ideology is to the places where most people get their news.

 

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About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.