Determining what may be reliable or false information when it comes to the media can be difficult or it can be readily apparent. This often times depends upon the media outlet you have chose as well as your own personal political perspective. But one cannot always determine when the media is being completely truthful and unbiased.
This can be in the form of commentary based on political analysis, or telling the story from their perspective of how they covered it. It is up to viewers to find credible information about what really happened. Networks such as Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC are examples of this in one form or another.
Fox News holds a bias favoring the political right more than the political left. Fox News generally brings in regular guest speakers and commentators such as Charles Krauthammer a well known syndicated columnist that brings in works that according to Meg Greenfield, an editor for Krauthammer’s weekly column that his work is "independent and hard to peg politically. It's a very tough column. There's no 'trendy' in it.”
Other notable personalities include Chris Wallace who is a political anchor and commentator on Fox News Sunday. According to The Washington Post, Wallace was interviewed for his political affiliation and was reported that Wallace had been a registered Democrat for more than two decades. Wallace explained his party affiliation in terms of pragmatism, saying that “being a Democrat is the only feasible means of participating in the political process in heavily Democratic Washington, D.C.” He maintained that he had voted for candidates from both major parties in the past.
Sean Hannity on Fox News' "Hannity" is acclaimed for his overly favorable coverage of Donald Trump, his promotion of Trump's false and unsubstantiated voter fraud claims, and for periodically promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton.
Fox News focuses more on bringing in commentators to state their opinions primarily boosting conservative views and looking the other way at liberal ideals. In terms of reporting the news rather than commentating, Fox occasionally gives the Democratic side a chance only for the other side of politics to be viewed and to give their slogan “we report, you decide” a legitimate purpose.
While those on the right consider CNN to be liberal; and to the White House it is "Fake News"; CNN is generally considered to be in the middle politically. It also has a good reputation for truthfulness and accuracy. Of course, like all other news sources, they do have some opinion that disrupts what is only supposed to be reported. It all depends on the subject and which news anchor is speaking.
For example, Anderson Cooper has his own show where he reports the current breaking news and also focuses on a specific idea. When focusing on that specific event, he brings in relevant people in to discuss it. Those people are willing to stand up for what they believe in; regarding that topic. The discussion may or may not be biased.
Another example is Wolf Blitzer, who is the host of “The Situation Room” and CNN’s lead political anchor. Many people may think that CNN is extremely liberal but that’s not necessarily the case. It covers many topics that other conservative sources do and they’re comments might not differ.
CNN covers the stories in a way that makes them appear trustworthy. For example, "New Day" with Chris Cuomo contains topics that are discussed in a way that makes viewers more aware of the situation that’s being talked about.
MSNBC generally has a reputation for being on the left. The NBC news channel is criticized for occasional biased opinions on reports in the world of politics similar to reporters from other news channels such as Fox News and CNN whose reporters are also known for voicing their own opinions without displaying all of the facts.
Another branch of the same company, NBC's "The Today Show" is a good example of this. The senior anchor on the program, Matt Lauer, brings in his own opinions when talking about political matters. This makes it difficult for a viewer to differentiate fact from opinion.
NBC is home to many talented reporters such as Chris Matthews, commentator Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough and one of the highest praised news reporters, Andrea Mitchell. Andrea has been in the broadcasting business a long time and has developed a high reputation among her peers.
These networks, however, can be the audience's choice of whether or not they want to stay informed with the truth. Think of it like this: when audiences watch the news they usually take the media’s word for what happened and spread that around and create a buzz with social media. This can be misinterpreted from what the media is really trying to say and it's best to analyze what is actually being talked about.
For example, whether the story is straightforward or not always view multiple sources and figure out if they’re all pointing in a particular direction with what they’re trying to say. It can be an opinion piece by the moderator of that news station, or just the station reporting it how it happened based on sources they’ve cited. One question to ask yourself is how well would they know what they are talking about? If they are an official source, such as police spokesperson, they are likely second- or third-hand witnesses, but they may be basing what they say on multiple first hand witnesses.
The key question is, how do they know? If it’s not clear, you should be more skeptical. Another important thing to keep track of is when the event happened because time is a key factor in finding the truth from what people say. Overall taking the time to find legitimate information and to fact check the media can come a long way to determine what is or isn't true. Real news contains the byline of a journalist dedicated to reporting facts and this is key in finding the truth.