DISCLAIMER: This post is neither for or against Donald Trump or Joe Biden. It’s not pro or con when it comes to Republicans or Democrats. I’ve voted for candidates in both parties over the decades. In the last presidential election I cast a dissenting vote for Gary Johnson because I found both candidates so objectionable for a variety of reasons.
The post isn’t pro or con when it comes to CNN, MSNBC or Fox. If I watch the news at all anymore, I give roughly the same time to each station because it’s like watching the world from completely different vantage points in space.
By now you’ve heard Donald Trump equated the impeachment inquiry into his phone call with the Ukrainian President to a lynching. The backlash over his comment was swift and fierce because of the history of lynching of blacks in America.
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of lynching is “to put to death (as by hanging) by mob action without legal approval or permission.” By definition, a lynching can occur in any culture regardless of race, sexual preference or anything else. However, words take on meaning beyond their stated definition based on their use and history. In the case of American culture, lynching has become synonymous with white mob actions against blacks.
Why that word?
Understanding the history tied to lynching in America, it begs the question – why would Trump use that particular word? For people who dislike (many would use the word “hate”) it’s clear – they see him as racist and that word is yet more proof of their already strong belief. Others may claim he’s just ignorant for using such a racially charged word.
But, could there be another, more strategic reason he used that one word? Perhaps. While it didn’t get nearly as much press last week, Joe Biden called the impeachment process of Bill Clinton “a partisan lynching.” Five other Democrats invoked that word about Clinton’s impeachment. No backlash in 1998, very little coverage in 2019.
President Trump may have used that word to point out a double-standard. I know some of you reading this might think that’s giving him too much credit. Maybe he’s a racist, maybe he’s smart, maybe he’s both.
Is there a double standard in the American press? Absolutely…on both sides!
CNN, MSNBC and other more liberal media outlets have given Joe Biden a pass. After all, times were different in 1998. He apologized. He’s been a Democrat all his life, and so on.
Fox continually gives Trump a pass too. They mercilessly condemned Obama for playing too much golf. Trump owns golf courses and plays all the time! That’s just one example but there are many more.
To deny favoritism from any news outlet would be intellectually dishonest. Each has a worldview/agenda that drives their bias reporting.
Humans have an amazing ability to justify almost anything and our ability to do so comes naturally. Just think about the small child who is about to be punished for hitting another child. “But he did it first!” is a common response. Kids don’t have to be taught to do that, it comes naturally. “Yea, but..” is used to justify so much of what we do.
If you love Trump you will find ways to explain his behavior as perfectly fine. On the flip side, many Trump supporters (Republicans more broadly) easily justified their contempt for virtually everything Obama did.
The same happens with liberals. They see Trump as pure evil and anyone can’t see that, well they must be part of the problem. Sorry but that’s just not true.
There are good people on both sides. I have friends who identify as Democrats and they’re very good people. Likewise, I know many folks who are die-hard Republicans and they are very good people too.
The difference is each side fundamentally views society, our challenges and potential solutions differently. While some of the people I know post inflammatory rhetoric on social media, when we get a chance to sit and talk, they’re good, reasonable people.
Don’t Be Manipulated
Make no mistake about it, when you watch MSNBC, CNN, Fox or any other “news” you’re not getting the news. You’re getting information that comes from an ideological slant then is supplemented by pundits who also have a biased viewpoint.
We can never remove all bias from the news any more than you or I can remove the biases we have. Having said that, as a society we’re working hard to try to reduce the influence biases cause in workplace (racial, sexual, gender, religious, etc.). We try to do so by setting up systems to help us.
So, here’s the big question – why aren’t media outlets going through anti-bias training? They have no problem pointing out how companies like Starbucks need to do so. Newsflash – media outlets do more to shape our thinking, behavior and politics than Starbucks. When we turn on the news why can’t we reasonably expect, as Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet used to say, “Just the facts.”?
Americans have an incredible ability to set aside differences and come together in the face of adversity. We did it in WWI, WWII, after the assassination of President Kennedy and after 911. We have the ability to set aside our differences and focus on the fact that we’re Americans. The country is far from perfect but still, people from all over the world want to come here because the opportunities are still greater here than anywhere else in the world.
To Do This Week
Question what you’re see, hear and read from the media. Just because what you encounter may be different that your view doesn’t make it wrong. By the same token, just because it aligns with your beliefs doesn’t make it right.
Have a conversation with someone who is different than you. In a non-judgmental way, ask them about how they see the world or certain issues. Don’t contend, just try to understand. I think you may be surprised by what you learn.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet when it comes to the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.
Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more nearly 80,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.