Media Madness

It's no secret that America is becoming increasingly polarized. This is most likely due to people placing themselves into information bubbles of sources that reinforce their worldview. In a perfect world, it wouldn't matter which news source a person goes to, because they would all report the facts. However, in this world most news organizations, in addition to being biased, regularly report lies and misstatements and propagate them as though they were true.

One recent example of this is Michael Cohen pleading guilty to, among other things, two campaign finance violations. There's just one problem with this, as former FEC chair Bradly Smith points out in The Epoch Times, "Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to things that probably are not crimes."

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to things that probably are not crimes. - Bradley Smith, former FEC Chair

This reasoning is based on the campaign finance law personal use clause which states "For the purposes of paragraph (1), a contribution or donation shall be considered to be converted to personal use if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate's election campaign or individual's duties as a holder of Federal office."

Since Donald Trump's two extramarital affairs would fall under a fulfillment to an obligation that would exist irrespective of Trump running for office, the payments cannot be considered campaign expenses, and therefore the hush money payments are not campaign finance violations. However, there is more to the story. Bradley Smith reminds us, in a separate article for the Wall Street Journal, that one of the articles of impeachment brought against President Nixon was using campaign finances for hush money payments. This would mean that if President Trump used campaign finances, instead of his personal accounts, to fund the hush money payments, then there is legal precedent that argues he would have violated campaign finance law.

Nevertheless, The Huffington PostWashington Post, CNN and New York Times all trumpeted 
for days on end that President Trump and Michael Cohen violated campaign finance laws. This may be just one example of a media misstatement, but it is also one of the most obvious and disseminated, and all the major news organizations seemed to be in agreement over this blatant error.

Such blatant propaganda is not healthy for a freethinking society. Journalists have a very important job. Millions of people rely on them to be informed about world and domestic affairs. If journalists stop informing the public, then how will the public know whom to elect for president or whether certain policies or ideological theories have panned out? The media has to stop thinking of itself as an agency for mind molding and instead give the people what they need: facts.

As citizens, our job is to find sources that will give us these facts and promptly avoid ones that spread lies and propaganda. A great place to start is to inform oneself of the facts that are already available. From there, we must browse news agencies to see if they stick to these established facts or deviate from them. A great resource for learning many these facts is Just Facts. Once armed with the current body of knowledge on an issue, one can easily spot which news agencies are factual, and which ones are propaganda, and from there proceed to inform friends and relatives of these factual organizations to make society a more informed place brimming with an educated populace armed with the knowledge to choose proper political candidates and improve the domestic and international state of affairs through monetary contributions, volunteer work, and doing what's best for their fellow citizens.

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