After Senator-elect Scott Brown’s resounding win in Massachusetts, it is clear that when Americans have the facts, they make informed decisions and let their voices be heard about the important issues facing our country. Our founders understood how important information is to our Republic. Thomas Jefferson once said:
It is to me a new and consolatory proof that wherever the people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.
Last year, I started the Media Fairness Caucus (MFC) in Congress to help ensure that Americans stay well-informed and get the facts on important issues. The purpose of the MFC is not to censor or condemn, but to encourage the media to adhere to the highest standards of reporting and provide the American people with the facts, balanced stories and fair coverage of the news. The Caucus also points out examples of media bias and I present a “most biased media story of the week” award regularly on the House floor.
Recent surveys show that Americans have lost faith in the national media. Just one in ten Americans has a “great deal of confidence in the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly,” according to a Gallup poll. By a margin of three-to-one, Americans said the media are too liberal rather than too conservative.
Voters see the media as biased, liberal and too powerful, according to a Rasmussen poll. Just two in ten Americans say reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of political campaigns. A majority of voters believe, “The average reporter is more liberal than they are.” And two-thirds think the media have too much power and influence over government decisions.
Americans’ trust in the media has plummeted to an all-time low and only about a quarter of Americans say that news organizations are not politically biased, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
Independent research supports Americans lack of trust in the media. A UCLA study rated 18 of 20 major news outlets as more liberal than the average American voter.
According to Investor’s Business Daily, journalists contributed 15 times more money to Democrats than Republicans during the 2008 election cycle. And journalists who gave to President Obama outnumbered those who contributed to Sen. McCain by 20-to-1.
A study by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs found that network news programs gave President Obama more than three times the coverage that they gave former President George W. Bush early in their presidencies.
Although Americans lack confidence in the media, our founders rightly recognized the importance of a free press and established this right through the First Amendment to the Constitution. Members of the MFC strongly support freedom of the press and do not support any efforts to undermine that right.
Through the Media Fairness Caucus, members of Congress utilize their own First Amendment rights to confront media bias and to encourage American citizens to do the same. Using speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives, op-eds and letters to the editor, social networking, and other channels, members of the MFC work to highlight media bias at the national level and promote an open dialogue between national media and elected officials.
All true reform starts with the voice of the people. The Media Fairness Caucus’ goal is to give a voice to millions of Americans who feel the media has let them down.