Most times the roots of blindness – whether it’s blindness due to pride or meanness or fear – run down into the clay-footed soil of human nature but the other day Peggy Noonan spotted an odd phenomenon.
Noonan wrote: “News bias now is in part a financial decision.”
Back in the old days the New York Times, Washington Post and News and Observer made money by selling ads in the newspaper that landed on your doorstep every morning: Want ads. Classified ads. Car dealership ads. Grocery store ads. Then the Internet came along and print ads all but vanished and suddenly ‘clicks’ were what made money.
The other morning I clicked on the News and Observer’s website and there were eleven ads. I clicked on an article and there were seven more ads. Every time I clicked on an article I saw more ads. And that’s how newspapers make money today: Clicks equal ads. And more clicks equal more money.
Which leads to a second phenomenon: Who does the most clicking? In politics it’s the most fired-up Democrats and the most fired-up Trump supporters. The extremes.
So today newspapers and media websites are choosing sides, aligning with one white-hot group or the other, to get more clicks. Noonan put it this way: “You play to those who love (or hate I might add) Trump… and reap the profits.”
Click bait – headlines like ‘Does Everything Donald Trump Touches Die?’ (by Vanity Fair) – pours gas on a kind of craziness but also reap tons of clicks from Trump haters. While headlines like – Fake Media Witch Hunt – reap mountains of clicks from the other side of the spectrum.
Media bias today isn’t clay-footed misjudgment. It’s a grab for the money. How that works out for our country, well, we’ll see.