Recently an internship application asked me what I feel is the most critical threat to liberty currently facing our society. Here is my response:
Liberty functions best when citizens are informed about the workings of their government. When government actions are transparent, citizens have the freedom to respond and keep politicians in check. In the absence of accurate information, government transparency clouds, and citizens are left to form their political opinions on fragmented facts and biases.
Therefore, the most critical threat to liberty is bias in the media. If journalists fail to uphold a standard of objectivity, their role in maintaining democracy fails as well. Citizens rely on journalists to be “watchdogs” of government, but many popular news outlets have failed to distinguish hard news from political commentary. Rather than providing factual information about topics otherwise unknown to the average citizen, many news media are catering to reaffirm political predispositions of their audience.
Eliminating this threat to liberty begins with journalists. News media need to refocus their goals and revert back to traditional standards of objectivity above all else. Failing to differentiate fact from opinion in news leads the general public to distrust the media, and when news sources lose credibility, liberty cannot stand.