For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12)
This verse of scripture by the prophet Joseph Smith weighs heavily on my heart today. This topic of truth and where to find it has been on my mind so much lately, and I feel strongly it’s time to write about it, particularly in relation to American politics in the media.
Americans across the political spectrum have very different opinions of where they can find truth. I see too often online where people blatantly scrutinize certain news sources and those who read them, while completely believing what they read from other news sources. Do you see the problem with this?
Let’s talk about what a biased news source is. Well, it’s a source of information that appeals to just one side. In order to do that, the news source has to withhold information that would go against the perspectives, stances, and values of the side it is writing for. It also has to withhold information that would show any uprightness and sense from the opposing side(s). Sometimes, depending on the news source, there is not only withholding of important contextual information, but telling of actual lies in order to bring fear, doubt, and panic. These biased new sources write for those who only want truth that confirms the beliefs they already hold. In so doing, they cause division and bad feelings that often are not merited.
If we only read and watch news media that pats us on the back for our beliefs and puts down those who are different, we will never seek or find understanding and common ground. We will always be divided and we will always negatively judge those who don’t align with us. That is not good!
I understand that if we are very passionate about our political stances that it can be alarming, disheartening, and even scary to read about happenings in the country that seemingly threaten our ideals and perspectives, or would cause us to question our loyalty to a person or party. But, are leaders we follow or a party we align with the most important parts of who we are? What does it say about us if we refuse to see reason or red flags? In contrast, what does it say about us when we put America, humanity, ethics, and common decency above party? Perhaps we should all think about the most important loyalties we should cleave to when we make our decisions about truths we look for and accept.
Now, are all media outlets biased, and how would we even know?
Well, I have read articles from news sources, and posts from people claiming to be experts on politics, all over the spectrum. Here are some signs I have found of bias and untruths (this is not all-inclusive, and not all biased news sources will have all):
- Accusations and assumptions are made without any proof or without substantial proof.
- There are no cited sources, or the sources cited are of only one side of the political spectrum.
- The cited sources used to prove someone’s perspective or character are from years past, with no effort to cite current statements or analyze current character.
- The writing is fueled by anger, hate, and insults.
- The writer’s personal opinion takes precedent over fact-telling.
- The information presented seems incomplete or doesn’t make sense, yet there is no mention of the holes or ongoing investigations to fill them.
- There are only positive things written about one side, while facts about the other side are all negative.
- Blanket statements are made about a party without recognizing individual beliefs and platforms of a leader or candidate.
- Blame is always put on the other side.
- The article justifies wrongdoings within one party and then condemns the wrongdoings of another.
- Predictions of how awful life would be under the leadership of another party are rampant.
- After reading it, readers will have no sense of positive understanding towards sides other than their own.
- After reading it, readers will feel superior in their viewpoints, party, and leadership, feeling no need for growth.
I would say that all news outlets have some bias, as they do choose what to report on and what not to report on, based on what they feel is most important, but there will be a lot of differences in media that is trying to be balanced:
- There will be many quotes from all sides of the political spectrum with sources cited.
- Great detail about any event will be provided, usually from start to finish, with updates as they come in.
- Opinions of the author will not be used. Any opinions will be quotes from those who would have influence over the situation.
- Anger, hatred, and insults will not be involved in the writing, unless people relevant to the situation are being quoted. Quotes like this will come from all over the spectrum, not just one side.
- Blanket statements are not made, but rather each leader and member of a party are recognized for individual beliefs and platforms.
- Accusations and theories will be fact-checked in detail with sources cited.
- What is written will sometimes trouble readers and make them uncomfortable, perhaps leading them to question things and people they have believed in and supported.
My aunt sent me a Media Bias Chart several months ago, and I have used it in my search for centered, and as unbiased as possible truth. It has been very helpful to me. Here it is:
This isn’t a perfect representation of bias, but I have found it to be pretty accurate. Where does your reading material fall? If you are reading items on one of the far sides, I would encourage you to add to it and read some more of the centered articles, as they are sure to include more fact, context, and relevant information to help you draw more balanced conclusions based on current events.
This chart does not analyze visual media or talk radio, but all we have talked about regarding bias still applies. And be very careful with videos and pictures that show alarming “truths.” Videos and pictures can easily be edited to present any desired message.
I want you to ask yourself if you are afraid of a political party. Ask yourself if you believe a political party is evil. Ask yourself if you think one political party only lies while your political party always tells the truth. Ask yourself if you think that your party is God’s party. Ask yourself if you think that leadership under a political party other than yours will destroy the country. And now ask yourself why you think that and if that is a fair assessment.
Do you really believe everyone who isn’t a part of your political party, or who didn’t vote for your candidate is evil, godless, lying, and a threat to our freedom as we enjoy it? Think of what that would imply and how that would affect your relationships with everyone around you.
Regardless of your political viewpoints, it is a fact that there will be good and bad to come from your party or your chosen leadership. I have said all along that there is good in all parties – they just have different views on what is best for our country and what the best means are to help and improve our country.
There will also be bad apples in every party and from leaders of those parties. If there is a bad apple in yours, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, and people in other parties should not call names or judge you. It also doesn’t mean you have to continue to follow the bad apples simply because of your party choice. We are all more than our party and we have power to make positive change in our country and in our world. We just need to stand for truth and for goodness always. That can make us uncomfortable. It can stretch us. But that is a good thing. It shows humility, a desire for growth, and selflessness.
In order for us to make positive change, in order for us to seek understanding and unite with those who are different than us, in order for us to be a good example and persuade others to do good, we must seek for truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
After your study, if you still find yourself confused or lost, pray for help to recognize the truth and to accept it, regardless of how it may change you.
And after these prayers, when you finally find that balanced, detailed truth, free from omission, lies, and manipulation, what do you with it?
You share it. It takes courage to do it, and people will even oppose you for it.
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge said, “Opposition, criticism, and antagonism are companions to the truth…Look for the biggest dust cloud billowing above the most dirt that is kicked at One who was most opposed, challenged, and rejected, beaten, abandoned, and crucified, One who descended below all things, and there you will find the truth, the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind. Why did they not leave Him alone? Why? Because He is the truth, and the truth will always be opposed.”
I love this quote. It’s heartbreaking, but so inspiring. Our Savior, Jesus Christ is the truth. To stand for truth, we must stand for Him. We must emulate Him. We must stand for events that emulate His qualities and goodness, and we must boldly stand against events that tear down all He stands for.
Bringing light to the world is what will help bring peace, healing and unity. It isn’t in the defending of darkness disguised as light.
If you hear me stand for truth and right, and against wrong, it is not because I am a hater of a particular person or party. That will never be my reasoning, as I do not define myself by a party and I do not align myself to any leader with unwavering loyalty. No, the only person who I must have unwavering loyalty to is God. If you aren’t a believer in God, then have unwavering loyalty to the cause of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. I also have an unwavering loyalty to that beautiful cause that should unite America because this cause aligns with God’s plan for His children.
I hope that my words have given food for thought. I am not an expert and I am continuously working on my own biases, but I don’t have hate or fear in my heart. For that I am so grateful. It brings a freedom that you can only describe if you have felt it. I want that freedom for all. It starts with finding truth. I wish you the best as you search for it and find it.Remember, my friends, truth does not always align with us, so maybe we should align ourselves with truth. Click To Tweet