Recently I’ve gotten really into the Freakonomics podcast, a podcast by journalist Stephen Dubner and economist Steven Levitt who co-wrote the Freakonomics book. The podcast has actually been around for years and, in my mad quest to get caught up, I’m listening to some episodes from around the 2012 presidential election (simpler times). It’s been interesting to hear about some of the topics people had problems with during that election and how little they’ve changed in the past four years.
One episode in particular, How Biased Is Your Media?, really stood out for me. The current election has had a lot of people say the media is biased against Donald Trump and his campaign for president. (I’ll forget for a moment that most of those people complaining are representatives of the Trump campaign or media outlets that have literally said that they are “the platform for the alt-right.“) The closing remarks of the podcast are from Stephen Dubner, talking in 2012, that express how I feel about media bias:
We love to complain about partisanship in Washington, and in the media. But could it be that we get the partisanship we want? The partisanship we deserve? Here’s my advice: if you want an enemy to root against, watch more sports. That’s what sport is good for! It’s a proxy for war, for violence, for tribalism. When the game’s over, when you’re ready for some nuance, come back to the real world. And only then, if you think you’re calm enough to handle it, pick up a newspaper.
The whole episode is worth listening to (or reading). This isn’t to say there is no media bias out there but there’s probably a lot less than people think.