The lesser of two evils depends on your party

By Katie Wolf

We all — at one time or another — have taken some time out of our busy schedules to sit down and watch television. Unfortunately, with great innovation comes unforeseen but inevitable side effects: mutants that are unwanted but creep to the surface. MSNBC and FOX NEWS are two of these mutants.

As much as both networks are complete opposites, one compliments the other like Batman and the Joker; Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort; Yin and Yang. Launched just 4 months apart from each other, these networks have niche characteristics that any viewer can associate with; conservative FOX is entertaining and comical while liberal MSNBC is boring and juvenile.

FOX  knows how to popularize its agenda or pre-constructed narrative. People need to be told opinions — even with extensive blackboard use — no matter how factual or creative they are. This is something MSNBC fails to understand. Air America’s demise is a good example. Never challenge people to think, tell them what to think. It is clear both strategies could better suit the public.

So who benefits from these two media mutants? Look no further then those that run our glorified country: Politicians. The lawmakers of our land reap the rewards from the labors of both these networks via live interviews. This platform allows any politician to articulate his or her position on current legislation while criticizing the other party. These tactics allow for audiences to favor a certain party over the other.

Politicians do help with extreme partisanship of both networks, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are two other kinds of broadcasting: opinion and news. What carries the most influence? Well lets find out …

Most would think the pundits do most of the work, but this is not the case. Take Bill O’Reilly for example. O’Reilly has an audience of three million people on average over his 16 years on the air. He is, also, the most popular TV pundit to date. Three million is only 1 percent of the overall U.S. population. This means no one watches pundits. Even Rush Limbaugh only yells at 16 million or 5 percent. The pundits are the most politically fundamentalist group, but they are as influential as Keith Olbermann’s rhetoric.

So the pundits are peanuts. That leaves the reporters. For those of you who attended journalism classes, you know news folk are strongly suggested to report without opinion and prejudice. Well it turns out both these networks should report unbiased, objective news, but they would rather make money. Every day both of these networks supply the hottest and most popular stories, and they are not afraid to skew the facts a smudge. It’s like selling your soul for ratings.

Both networks may not be objective, but there are underlining tones in their reporting. FOX tends to report on stories that make us feel uncomfortable about national security. The other FOX theme is simply “Yay America.” Can you say Republican values?

MSNBC tends to report like Senate Democrats: What are we doing? Why are we here? Can we just think about this for a second? Fortunately amongst the confusion, the network sticks to the script with the help of Democrats willing to speak about Washington business.

Let us not forget about the selection of experts each network offers. Their opinion may look like news, but a simple click to the next network shows an equally wrinkled face spewing a different point of view about the same topic. Who’s right? Well … are you a Republican or Democrat? Either way, partisanship is the only product being offered.

This is the goal. It is much easier to influence a constituent than a centrist on any issue. Let’s assume a Republican cheats on his wife. Conservatives will be more considerate and may forgive the politician for his actions even though the politician violated a core conservative belief. A liberal individual will be as sympathetic to Democrats who do not pay their taxes. And why does this happen? Because most individuals become very partisan as FOX NEWS and MSNBC fan the flames of their biases.

FOX NEWS and MSNBC are complete opposites, but they share a common objective apart from making a profit. The goal of their TV programming is to create a choice between good and evil; right and wrong; black and white with no other alternative. So next time when a news story reports on heroes and villains, do yourself a favor. Change the channel.