Mainstream media aims to be as relevant as possible to as many people as possible for the simple reason that more viewers mean more money. The not-so-unintentional consequence of this is a kind of nihilism about the truth.
The truth is not something CNN, Fox News, or the NYT editorial board are really interested in. Outlets such as these have relegated themselves to merely “fostering debate” and covering “all sides of an issue.” But not all issues have multiple sides and not all matters require endless debate. Some issues are easily resolved or can be satisfactorily addressed through some quality research and analysis. But outside a handful of topics of consensus, the MSM tries its best to avoid resolution. It does this by amplifying the most misinformed, biased, and irrationally opinionated voices.
Consider the gun “debate” that crops up every 5-6 weeks in our news cycle. Despite all appearances, there are clear answers to some of the fundamental questions everyone should have about gun violence, homicide rates, mass shootings, etc., and even if we don’t have answers now, at least there are research methodologies that can be pursued in a rational, scientific way to address those questions. Anyone who is sincerely interested in the truth of the matter would want to follow those methodologies in seeking robust answers. With all its resources, the MSM should be responsible for conducting such research and/or enabling those who can do so, and then disseminate the results far and wide. And if the results are still ambiguous, then at least the pursuant conversation would be an informed one.
But that is not what the MSM is interested in. Because they are not interested in the truth. They are interested in viewership/readership and that means catering to the lowest common denominator. And given the abysmal state of literacy and education in the US — especially when it comes to logical analysis, science, etc. — that common denominator is quite low indeed.