How to Detect Media Bias and Propaganda

In terms of public content, a sizable portion of the media has taken a political stance. For example, the New York Times has admitted that a large percentage of its opinion pages are liberal in nature, at the detriment of the conservative voice. Fox News, for its part, is widely regarded as the conservative voice, particularly considering the fact that conservatives do not control the media.
The hazard of this media dichotomy is that news audiences will be unable to distinguish between fact and fiction. The public ends up making decisions based on the author of a certain piece. Now that such reporting could be misleading, the public may make a decision which is based on misleading information. To make matters worse. If a certain media outlet is branded as a biased media, it takes a long time for such an entity to save its name.

Notable Examples

On September 25, 2016, the New York Times ran an editorial article titled Why Donald Trump

Should Not Be President. On October 24, 2016, Wayne Allan Root, writing for Fox News ran an article titled Why I’m (still) betting big on Donald Trump to win. Both articles had a heavy dose of media bias. This paper will scrutinize the media bias manifested in both cases. As a disclaimer, the paper should not be viewed as an endorsement or an attack of Donald Trump. On the contrary, it gives the reader an insight into the sources and depth of media bias from the two stories. Similarly, though the two articles do not talk much about Hillary Clinton, Clinton was the main challenger to Trump and therefore Trump’s politics cannot be divorced from mentioning Hillary Clinton.

Trump and the Media

During the run up to the US presidential election, there was a general feeling that the media was biased against Trump. The way it described the Trump’s campaign left a lot to be desired and did not portray fairness. This assumption was assessed through a poll carried out by Quinnipiac University which found that in deed, Trump did not receive a fair coverage. There was a tendency to concentrate to the negative things that Trump had said and in turn elevated Clinton to the position of a better leader.

On his part, Trump was no angel in his interaction with the media. He has branded the media as the source of fake news. In addition to that, Trump has fallen short of declaring a full blown war with the mainstream media and has in deed attacked several media personalities. Again, it should be noted that some of the controversial things Trump had actually said them in the full glare of the media and that they were not mere accusations.

A big section of the American population would not understand why Trump won. Fareed Zakaria, an established opponent of Trump admitted by saying, “I got it wrong.” This could as well show the futility of the media bias in some situations.

Media Analysis: New York Times

In the article by the New York Times, there are various sources and manifestations of bias. To start with, there is a bias of omission of the narrative concerning Trump. A balanced narrative should in deed have both voices, two sides of the coin.

The New York Times chronicles a list of negative things about the president. The editorial board starts by citing how Trump started his campaign- he branded the Mexican people as rapists.

The editorial board takes part in bias by labeling. It describes Trump as a dangerous person (para 2). In addition to that, the board encouraged the public to take a hard stance on Trump due to the words that he had spoken. The board writes thus:

It is time for others who are still undecided, and perhaps hoping for some dramatic change in our politics and governance, to take a hard look and see Mr. Trump for who he is.

Lastly, there is bias by spin in that the editorial team has given a single interpretation of Trump and his policy. It does not give both sides of the coin. For example, the board says that Donald Trump does not have the interest of the nation at hard but he is rather consumed with himself (para 3). When journalists through such phrases to their writing, it becomes very difficult or impossible to provide evidence of such claims.

The editorial board proposed that Hillary Clinton is the better candidate (para 16). It postulated Hillary Clinton as a candidate who is a national leader who offers concrete solutions to the day to day problems challenging the American leaders. The team cites that Clinton had a better appeal to the black community and had better strategies of addressing poverty. This shows that New York Times had already endorsed (albeit silently) their leader of choice.

The counter narrative here is that Trump is not as bad as the media has made the public believe. From the political science theoretical perspectives, some leaders choose to do pragmatism or real politik. It is just a style like any other. Similarly, Trump had done his research on the impact of uncontrolled immigration and its negative impact on the population, crime for instance.

Fact Checking

The editorial board terms Trump as dangerous: mostly false

Trump not having thoughtful policies: false

Trump is consumed with himself: mostly false

Media Bias Analysis: Wayne Allyn Root

Wayne Allyn Root gives Trump the rare support that he does not get from many media houses. He went against the grain about what pollsters were saying about Trump and stated categorically that Trump would win. He compared Trump’s campaign to the Brexit vote where the media, the politicians, and the establishment never thought the UK would ever leave the EU (para 2).

The media bias on the article starts from the onset. Through bias by replacement, it seems the title of the article was aimed at the conservative groups and not the liberals. By his own admission, the author has a cordial relationship with Donald Trump. He says that Trump once invited him as a guest to Las Vegas. In such a scenario, there is a likelihood that the journalist is going to report in favor of the friend. As the old saying goes, there is nothing like free lunch.

It should be noted that some of the things that Trump did and said alienated him from some sections of the community. In that case, the liberal leaning media exploited that in order to build a case in favor of Hillary Clinton.

The journalist says:

Trump attracts 10,000 or more crazed fans to his events. Hillary attracts 200 to 500. And most of those attendees are Democrat Party employees or union hacks paid to be there! The exact number since August 1 is 561,000 for Trump events vs 31,000 for Hillary events.

(para 15).

From the above quote, there are a number of things that show bias. To start with, there is bias by spin in that the journalist shows subjectivity in an environment that is supposed to be objective. He seems to suggest that Trump’s fans are more in number and more genuine. He further suggests that even those who attend the events are either DP staff or union hacks who attend because they are paid not that they want to attend. Allegations of such nature are not only unwarranted but also misleading.

The author goes to gave a head on critic of Hillary Clinton by stating that Clinton is struggling even to sell her book (para 16). The author adds “….Yet no one is buying her book.” This is wrong in that Hillary Clinton did well in selling her book. It should not be ignored that Clinton has had and continues to have a firm base in American politics.

The author uses unscientific sources of information to justify his case. For example, he uses the wife of his best friend as a reliable source of information. Even in the media circles, the importance of having a scientific approach cannot be underestimated. It is very risky to use friends as sources of information.

Lastly, the author uses betting statistics in order to show that Trump would win. He says that a whopping 71 % of betting money was on Hillary Clinton. This shows bias by labeling in that the author purports to use reliable sources in order to come to a conclusion. The author ends his article by stating that, “This is our Brexit. And I’m betting big on Trump.”

Fact checking: Fox News

Wayne Allyn Root says that polls favoring Trump are not reported in mainstream media: mostly false.

Attendees paid to attend Clinton’s rallies: false

No one is buying Clinton’s book: false

The Impact of Bias

Media bias has serious consequences to the media house, the government, the political processes, and the public. It should be noted that most media houses prefer a story that is catching and as far as possible, sensational. The problem with such sensationalism is that events may take place so fast that journalists may not have time to carry out a thorough investigation.

In some cases, the population can be fatigued with distorted news to an extent of not trusting the news entirely. It fosters a sense of distrust among the readers. In such cases, the viewers and readers consume the news for its own sake but rely on certain political leaders (Trump for instance) to help them identify the truth and falsehood.

There has been a major shift in the way the New York Times and the Fox News present their news. For example, Fox News had crashed with Barack Obama before (a democrat). The Obama camp viewed the media house “not as a news network,” but rather, an arm of the Republican party.

The New York Times, just like a number of other media houses, assume a liberal position. This means the following: friendly to feminism, friendly to the gay people, a pro-choice stand, and a racially sensitive stand.


The media bias is a threat to democracy. In addition to that, it has a direct negative impact of the truth. Emotion as well as ignorance takes the pride of place. It robs the readers and the viewers of the opportunity to make an independent and informed decision. If the media is to regain its trust, then it must make a deliberate step to give a balanced narrative of events. Overall, the media bias can easily manipulate the readers and the viewers.

Works Cited

Root, Wayne Allan. “Why I’m (still) betting big on Donald Trump to win.” Fox News, October

24, 2016. Derived from:

The Editorial Board. “Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President.” New York Times,

September 25, 2016. Derived from:

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