The Echo Chamber in the US

I’ve been thinking about the nature of journalism, having been engaged in it as a non-professional for 30 years, including a previous 5-year stint as a film reviewer. The “news,” which reporters “report,” should be as objective as possible. This is often not the case today. I object to newspapers’ front pages which have been turned into op-ed pages. Because The New York Times is the American “newspaper of record” and is widely read by liberals, its front page bias needs to be considered because it’s often duplicated. 

Liz Spayd, newly appointed public editor at the NYT in 2016: “The home page is a good place to start. Anchoring its top right corner is the Opinion section, which promotes the columns and editorials of its mostly liberal writers. ‘Readers know the difference between opinion and news,’ you’ll often hear. I’m not so sure all do, especially when websites make neighbors of the two and social platforms make them nearly impossible to tease apart. …What’s happening at The Times [putting editorial comment into front page reporting] isn’t only about The Times. It’s part of a fracturing media environment that reflects a fractured country. That in turn leads liberals and conservatives toward separate news sources.” 

Spayd was fired from the position a year later, when the public editor position was eliminated. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/public-editor/liz-spayd-the-new-york-times-public-editor.html) 

Bari Weiss, op-ed writer and editor (and Israel supporter) at the NYT who resigned is another example of the culture at the NYT. Read her resignation letter (www.bariweiss.com) or an article about her by Pulitzer Prize winner Judy Miller (https://www.opinion/new-york-times-bari-weiss-judith-miller). 

See also “Editorialized news reporting” by Eric Mandel (https://www.jpost.com/opinion/editorialized-news-reporting-is-worse-now-than-the-bari-weiss-controversy-)

Since 2016 and the nomination and subsequent election of Republican Donald Trump, the partisan journalism/mass media has gone from bad, to questionable, to outrageous. In the US, opinion is vehemently divided over the policies of the present administration and the president. As an American expatriate living in Israel, I and many others appreciate the stance taken by the Trump administration to create a new paradigm for the 100-year war between Zionists/Israelis and their Muslim opponents. My Israeli Anglo (Engish-speaking) friends and I realize how important American politics are to Israel and the West. We want to get objective reports of the administration’s activities.

Many of my American friends attribute my opinions to relying on right wing propaganda, especially the Fox News Network. Numerous times I have tried to point out the necessity of examining the news from more than one perspective. How? By watching news shows from MSNBC, which is admittedly leftist. I also read contrasting articles from opposing viewpoints on realclearpolitics.com. 

Then there is the close to overwhelming plethora of “progressive” actions reported constantly, such as kneeling, cancelling, apologizing for one’s skin color, “peaceful protesting,” and virtue signaling  – all constantly on view.

These mass/social media outlets, such as the three major TV networks, CNN, MSNBC, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Atlantic Magazine, the New Yorker magazine, Hollywood films, etc. are all predominantly leftist, although many consider themselves to be objective. Objective news reporting has been replaced by subjective, sectarian “reporting.” Leftist viewpoints permeate the cultural scene, ensuring that we absorb leftist propaganda without even trying. There’s plenty of rightest offenders too. See “Editorialized news reporting” by Eric Mandel (https://www.jpost.com/opinion/editorialized-news-reporting-is-worse-now-than-the-bari-weiss-controversy-)

I’m a vehement opponent of Obama’s Iran deal, which enables Iran to develop a nuclear weapon in 15 years and subsidized Iranian terror activities with $billions.  Then there was his decision – on the way out of office – to stick it to Israel by not vetoing UN Security Council Resolution 2334. This resolution, completely contrary to Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity,” while erasing Jewish history of Jews from our 3,000-year-old capital, Jerusalem, among other absurdities. According to Obama’s National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, support for these actions was the result of the echo chamber effect. (https://jcpa.org/article/understanding-resolution-2334-) 

Where does the concept of an echo chamber come from? During the 2015 run-up to President Obama’s Iran deal [JCPOA], legions of arms-control experts emerged from think tanks and on social media, becoming key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” Ben Rhodes admitted, when I [reporter David Samuels] asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/magazine/the-aspiring-novelist-who-became-obamas-foreign-policy-guru.html

As a result of the echo chamber effect, multiple sources of  information are necessary to form an educated opinion. Read one article and have your mind made up for you; read multiple articles and make up your own mind.

The “news” is what’s presented to you, through the filters of reporters, who are often biased. Quotes can be taken out of context, videos can be altered and edited, photographs can be misleading or fake, etc.  It’s not easy deciding what to believe when there are so many outlets reporting events. But that’s infinitely better than if we lived in a totalitarian state where the ruling party determines what the “news” is and punishes those who resist. Could this be where we are heading?

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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