Growing up, Public Enemy # 1 referred to the likes of Al Capone. Today, Public Enemy # 1 refers to the mainstream media – if you believe President Trump. As the debate rages on about this, I want to look at this in a way that eliminates the usual political divisiveness.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, a public enemy is one that constitutes a menace to society. Well, Al Capone falls into that category. But what about the mainstream media?
The mainstream media’s job falls into two categories:
- Education – the media educates people on what is going on in and around their world. If it were not for the media, I would not have known that there were riots in the streets of Tehran. Or, that there was an attempt on the life of Venezuelan dictator Maduro. When it comes to education, the media does a noble job.
- Accountability – the media also helps hold our government accountable for its actions. They ask questions of our officials and do a deeper dive when the answers they get do not line up. The media does a decent job of this as well.
The problem comes in when the media reports with bias and an agenda – usually a political agenda. This may seem desirable to half of the country that supports the political agenda of the media, but it angers the other half of the country. The more bias and subjectivity we encounter, the more we ignore the media. We all remember the story of the “boy that cried wolf.” After lying many times to the locals, they stopped responding to his cry of ‘wolf’, and, unfortunately, when he needed help the most, no one came to his rescue.
Mainstream media is guilty of the same behavior. They exaggerate every action and word of President Trump, and most often report it in the most negative way possible. As such, much of the country is numb to their cries of collusion, meddling, impeachment, et al. Should the media grab on to a true story, it is doubtful that we will believe them – which could prove troublesome for society.
Today’s reporters act like politicians – every interaction with them turns into a political advertisement. It has reached the point, where we do not trust a word any politician utters – and the media is following close behind.
Journalists need to report the facts in an unbiased manner by providing both sides of each issue, allowing us to make decisions – and not the journalists - on how to interpret the information. Biased journalism will fall by the wayside, and we will lose a much-needed source of education and accountability. Biased journalism is Public Enemy #1!
God’s Word gives us the standard that all journalists should work by in Leviticus 19:11:
“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”
While we cannot change the media, with discernment we can take steps to insulate ourselves from their influence. Proverbs 15:14 gives us the following exhortation:
"The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly."