Podcast: Biased and false news

Jeffrey Tran: Hi, my name is Jeffrey.

Angela Cao: My name is Angela.

Tran: And today we’re going to be talking about news.

Cao: And the role it plays in society. So for example, recently, Donald Trump called out a lot of news sources, including CNN, saying that they were “fake news” or biased against him.

Tran: In addition, he says that if there is any negative stories from news outlets such as ABC, NBC, CNN. He calls them “fake stories” and that they’re not credible towards the real story.

Cao: To some extent, I do think that he is right. Some news sources are more biased than others. I mean you can’t deny that CNN is more liberal than, for example, Fox News. Fox News, on the other hand, is also more biased to the conservative side. So there is always bias in news sources in my opinion. What do you think?

Tran: I think right now, CNN is actually doing a good job of trying not to stay biased. I think they’re really doing their job. For example, throughout the entire election cycle, look at the people that they hired or the people that talked on their show. Kellyanne Conway was always a major guest. So she’s the senior adviser for Donald Trump. If you look at former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, he got paid time to be on that show. They also have conservative analysts, like Jeffrey Lord. I think that even though these “biased” news sources, they’re still doing a good job of trying to share the other side. For doing so, I don’t think that they should be attacked as “fake news”.

Cao: I agree. I do agree that [Trump] is wrong when he calls them “fake news” but he is right when he says that there is bias in the news. Of course, when someone says “fake news” it’s a stretch. You can’t say something is false because it goes against your beliefs or because it possibly favors one side over the other. So I agree with Jeffrey in saying that yes, CNN is liberal but they have a little more of an open mind compared to other news sources and should not be considered as fake news.

Tran: So I think we agree that fake news is a stretch, and I think it’s even more scary when Donald Trump says the media is not an enemy against him, but rather it’s an enemy against the American people. I think the news organization part of our society is a major checks and balances to what Donald Trump is trying to do and what he’s trying to say. President Ronald Reagan said “Trust but verify.” This is a part of our society that is going to broadcast what Donald Trump says, but he’s not always right. They’re going to do their job of fact-checking and making sure he’s telling the truth.

Cao: Anyways, going back to other sources of news that are not as believable, what about satire news sources, like The Onion, for example? What do you think about that? Personally I believe that The Onion is a source of entertainment, and I don’t think people realize that. People take it seriously and that’s obviously not a good thing because not everyone is aware of these sites because these sites are created solely for entertainment, and not solely for informing the public. What do you think about those sites in general?

Tran: Yeah, I think I follow two of those sites. One of them is Occupied Democrats and the other is The Other 98 Percent. It’s actually really interesting when I see a story on the New York Times and read about it. It’s really interesting to see how they spin it in a couple of minutes on Occupied Democrats. They use crazy headlines that really try to deceive the public, saying “Oh this person had this reaction to this,” and it’s just really false.

Cao: Going back to biased news sources, do you think it’s possible for a news source to be extremely neutral, no bias at all. Do you think that’s possible?

Tran: I would say C-Span but their only job is to broadcast what’s happening in the House and the Senate. If you really want to follow C-Span, that takes up almost 12 hours of your day. I think it is the job of certain media outlets to interpret the news and give us the news in an objective, well-timed manner, telling us the truth and nothing but the truth.

Cao: How important do you think news sources are to informing the public?

Tran: They’re the major source to verify and really question people in office, people in power. So their job is really important for us, making sure that our public officials are doing their job in telling us the truth.

Cao: I agree, also it’s one of the only outlets to give that source of information. We can’t always find sources of information from online sources. If we don’t have these reliable unbiased news sites, we never know what we’re reading, if it’s real or not. So I think it’s nice to know some sources are still reliable and unbiased, and still try to keep the truth as close as possible.

Tran: I think when unnamed sources come out, there should still be a bit of trust in them because the mass media actually has strong journalistic values to make sure that they sit down with their sources, to make sure she or he is credible and to make sure documents are factual.

By Jeffrey Tran, Manager and Angela Cao, Longform editor
Edited by Eunice Lin

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