How much responsibility does media have to represent the the facts?

Now, this isn’t supposed to be a non-partisan discussion. It’s not a “gotcha” topic. It is a genuine attempt to understand what people on this forum believe that media should be responsible for.

Now I want to say up front, that I use the term corporate media in this post a lot. For the sake of this post what I mean when I use this term is simple. Corporate media simply means that the person/s who represent as a source of information are doing it to make money. That can be directly, though payment, subscriptions or even though viewership models that pay advertising dollars. Basically, if money is made, it’s corporate. I suppose there are other kinds of media that should be included here. Any media source that is created/ funded for the purpose of soliciting information on behalf of a certain group, regardless of whether or not the source is profitable.

Some of the tactics I’ve seen, and I’d be curious to get opinions is the “just asking questions” defense.

For example, If I place in media (social or otherwise) questions like, “how long have you been cheating on your spouse”? Or, “a reliable source told me you were molesting a young child, is that true?”

If I were in any kind of media (social or otherwise) that a question or an accusation?

Can we agree those can be accusations disguised as questions? I mean, it’s a legitimate question when there is evidence, it’s an accusation when there is not.

The other tactic is, I just ask questions, I’m not responsible for vetting facts, my audience is smart, I let them figure it out for themselves, while at the same time claiming to be a media source that is interested in facts and truth.

What about asking questions that are demonstrable false, using the excuses above, that cite others to anger or questions that cause people to get fired from their jobs?

The last (but certainly not the least) is inviting guests on your media program who 1) claim to be experts and have significant experience in one or more fields and then make shocking and damming claims.

Should the media source (now were talking corporate media of any kind) be responsible to vet their guest to be sure they are who they claim they are?

What about the information they are espousing? Any responsibility at all to ensure that the information they are given is reasonable, or at least invite another guest with the credentials to offer another opinion?

Now, let’s be clear.

All I’m asking for in this post is an agreement on some simple standards that we all can agree on. I do not wish to go into the past and find examples where right or left handed media broke these rules, we ALL know corporate media has broken these rules. We might disagree on who is the bigger offender, but I don’t want to sidetrack what might be a productive conversation between the varied political and ideological stances represented here on RO.

So to recap, can we agree one the following are not good practices in media?:

1) The “I’m only asking questions defense” is legitimate, but only to a point. At some point, corporate media has a responsibility to ensure that “asking questions” isn’t a façade for planting ideas in the minds of their viewers in order to create a cultural narrative that clearly defies the evidence.

2) The “corporation doesn’t do much/ any research, nor is the corporation responsible to ensure that what the corporation (media) says is in anyway true or factual, we rely on our audience to decide for themselves”.

3) Is corporate media responsible for the people they invite on their show and give airtime? That is, if a guest claims to be an expert, with degrees, years of experience or a witness to an event that is the subject of an opinion piece claiming to be factual. Does the corporation have any responsibility to vet the person’s credentials or claims?

Now some might argue that corporate media should represent both sides. Unfortunately, I think that ship has sailed. I think there’s enough media representing both sides of an issue, if a person wants to stay informed, they can simply go to different sites to hear both sides of an argument. In this day-and-age I don’t trust cooperate media to represent both sides fairly.

Does free speech apply here? Clearly there are examples where it does, but at what point does free speech cross the line?

Remember, try to keep this non-partisan if you can, think about how sources that you rely on and dislike should have to live by these conventions.


This is where you make your first mistake. The news networks for ABC, CBS and NBC have been doing badly for years. They have lost viewership and with it advertising dollars. I remember Dan Rather complaining years ago that the CBS News budget had been cut because the program was not generating its share of advertising revenue. I don’t think that the situation has gotten any better for them. I think that the network is subsidizing them now for political reasons.

I don’t know what keeps CNN afloat these days. Their audience fallen badly since Trump left office.

Let’s not get lost in the minutia. I’m not interested in debating the profitability. The point is that these companies take money in return for advertising and there are people that work for the companies you listed making millions of dollars. That is the incentive, hence corporate media.

Okay, PBS is supposed to be “Public Broadcasting” which, one would think, would make them neutral. Yet it isn’t. It’s as “progressive” as the rest of the mainstream media, and a lot of its funding comes from the government bureaucracy. Surprising? No.

The news media is doing your bidding, so what’s your question? If the Washington bureaucracy shuts down Fox News, your people will be in complete control, and you can change their collective name to “Pravda.”

You side has taken over almost all of the colleges and universities. That’s why your side is winning and probably has everything won in the long run until the economy and civilization collapses. Then the Chinese Communists will take over, and they will liquidate those who don’t bow to their system.


That would be problematic.

Big problem.

Yes to both vetting guests and info, although I wouldn’t necessarily make it a deal breaker for interviewing the former (particularly if said guest tips their hand).

Slander and libel come to mind.

I love a quote that’s in my vocational school yearbook: “Shouldn’t the right of free speech imply an obligation to say something sensible?” Obviously, though, the devil is in the details.

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I like it.

How much responsibility does media have to represent the the facts?

Zero. Literally zero.

I think you are asking the right questions, but going about it the wrong way. A more important and serious question would be;

Would you rather be informed, or entertained? Now everyone is going to say informed, so that’s a crappy answer. Unless you apply it to someone else. Consider two scenarios.

  1. “I just saw this on the news! it made me [x]! You should be [x] to because [y] says so!”

  2. “I was wondering about subject [x] and this article gave me a perspective about it I didn’t recognize before”

I’m not very subtle, am I? You can ask yourself the same question. After you watch the news you want do you either feel more emotional or more knowledgeable? How you answer that question is an indicator as to whether you’d rather be more informed or more entertained.

Either way, media outlets don’t owe you a damn thing.

I’ll dispute that. Everybody owes everybody the courtesy of not deceiving them. Yes, the audience is an issue, too. It’s both them and the media.