Opinion | Factoring in the leanings of news views

NOD TO THE RIGHT: Donald Trump being 'grilled' by Fox News.
NOD TO THE RIGHT: Donald Trump being 'grilled' by Fox News.

Being what our youngsters might call ‘a retired old fart’, I have time to watch a lot of television. But I am not one for Days of Our Lives or re-runs of MASH. I watch news programs, both Australian and international.

As that great British prime minister, Jim Hacker, would have said about Australia’s press, “The Herald is read by people who would like to run the country, the Telegraph is read by people who think they run the country, the Guardian is read by people who think the country should be run by a country far to our North while the Financial Times is read by the people who really run the country”.

If you want a good laugh, tune in to news broadcasts, particularly the right-leaning media.  Right-wing media often gives rise to more of a chuckle than the left-of-centre media, which tends to be a tad more highbrow, but not without its failings.

Foxtel’s Sunday morning current affairs program, Outsiders, is always good for a laugh, particularly if you enjoy fact checking. Statements in support of maintaining the status quo of marriage in Australia are made without a skerrick of supporting evidence. Statements such as “marriage has only been between a man and a woman for thousands of years”, though patently false, are peddled to the gullible for acceptance.

Outsiders support of Tony Abbott and his boys in the band knows no bounds, as does their support for the President in the White House Childcare Centre.

Outsiders believe that Australia should have more coal-fired power stations and the Adani mine in Queensland is heaven sent.  As can be deduced from the above, Outsiders believe that global warming is rubbish.

However, first prize in the right-wing news bias must go to the US Fox News Network. Fox News broadcasts provide American comedians like Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Seth Meyers with an almost endless stream of jokes.

Fox reports only good news when it comes to Donald Trump, even if they must invent it. Of Trump’s 26 television interviews, 18 have been with Fox. 

In one Trump interview on the Fox Business channel, interviewer Lou Dobbs said: “You’re also one of the most loved and respected (presidents) in history”, Trump nods.  “And how does that feel?” The interview continued in much the same vein, with Trump nodding and mouthing his agreement. During the interview, Dobbs on 16 occasions said “right” in response to Trump answers.

While the right-leaning media may get the highest scores for inaccurate reporting, we shouldn’t forget the other side of the coin. The Coalition parties and One Nation have long claimed the ABC is biased in favour of the left-of-centre parties. Several inquiries have been held into the perceived bias of the ABC; unfortunately, mostly commissioned by the ABC themselves, hardly providing an objective viewpoint. 

Probably the most troubling development in the Australian news media has been the rise of the so-called ‘shock jocks’. Disappointingly, it appears that a substantial number of people hang on every word uttered by people such as Ray Hadley and Alan Jones; words that often are just the broadcaster’s opinion without the full story.

News media throughout the world continually feeds suspect information to the masses and, unless people have the time to fact check, they will believe as fact information that is at least questionable. 

Mike Sargent, of Raymond Terrace, is a retired senior RAAF officer