It would be bad enough if all Americans had to worry about was bad reporting on their television newscasts. In addition to the many recent cases of not only bias, but outright false reporting on the newscasts, there is a lot of "news reporting" working its way into entertainment media and the result is a misinformed public.
Having political viewpoints or news items woven into entertainment media is certainly nothing new. Since the show debuted in 1990, NBC’s "Law & Order" crime series has touted its plots were "ripped from the headlines." Often in television drama, and even on television sitcoms, political ideas and even agendas have been explored and even promoted. I remember, in particular, an episode of the early 90’s sitcom "Blossom" in which the young teenage characters were assured that sex was safe as long as they used a condom.
Today, in addition to political or social themes being woven into the storylines of fictional dramas and comedies, there are programs where news, or statements based on news events, is part of the presentation. On Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart delivers a fake news broadcast, similar to the Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" made famous by Chevy Chase and Jane Curtain in the 70's, with a liberal slant.
Sadly, a growing number of Americans get their "news" from the nightly monologues of comedians like Jay Leno and David Letterman who frequently base their comedy on current events, including political news. Since the comedy often relies on stereotypes and exaggerations of the truth, any news content in the material is often greatly distorted, and at times, just plain wrong.
On comedy shows, at least the public realizes they are getting a comedian's perspective of the news. Even though dozens of jokes based on the stupidity of George Bush or the wickedness of Dick Cheney or Halliburton, can have the effect of influencing the public and leading them to misconceptions, at least viewers know they are not getting their information from a news source.
The same cannot be said for some other programs. Viewers getting their news from morning "news" shows like "Today" or "Good Morning America" must surely believe they can rely on the information they get. After all, the news departments from the networks play a role in the programs.
Similarly, viewers of ABC's "The View" certainly must believe the information presented on a program co-owned, co-produced and co-hosted by Barbara Walters would be reliable. For years there has been a liberal slant to the opening round table "Hot Topics" segment of the program, but recently with the addition of Rosie O'Donnell the slant has turned into outright misinformation and propaganda – all with the Barbara Walters stamp of approval.