I think my opinions on the media fall in the middle. On one hand, I agree with Cyp about how parent's have the job of teaching their children to not take everything at face value and understand there's more to an issue than what we see before us either on the television, or sometimes in real life. I agree that we can't blame the media, or books, or Internet, or whatever for how a person ends up acting. It's like the people who try to ban or censor books because an idea might "influence" a child a certain way.
However, I also understand that the media does have an effect on us and our perception of the world, and I think can at times be blamed for various reactions and backlash. I mean, unfortunately, people are sheep at times even after they've been taught to think for themselves. Psy's Bill O'Reilly post is a really good example of how media can influence people: it gives them something to quote and justify their beliefs with, because rather than looking at something like O'reilly objectively and actually realizing he's just stating an opinion--not fact--people often times take his word as the truth, and feel justified if harboring whatever belief it is they might have (which can in turn, lead to actions like hate crimes and the like.) Is it the show's fault? Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to tell. Probably not, because someone who'd do something harmful to others has something missing to begin with (take the Manson family, for example. Are the Beatles to blame for their lyrics? I personally don't think so, but there were many people who did.)
I think that's the major flaw of mass media, is that even though time and time again we've been shown that information is not always correct or set in stone, people have grown to trust the media and take their word for it. Not all people, and not always, but enough. I mean, we're not still in the "War of the World Days" where people are going to fly into mass hysterics due to a broad cast, but I think it still has an effect on our thoughts and actions, even if just in a subconscious way.
Did any of that make sense? I guess I'm trying to say, I don't believe in censorship, but I do think the media should be held to a higher standard than it's fallen to today. Rather than having opinion pieces and talk shows/discussions where people's opinions are included, I think the news really needs to be non-bias: sensationalism, like we see today. NPR does a decent job of trying to show both sides of an issue, or conflict (I listened to a few shows where they were talking about Syria and earlier than that they did coverage of Gaddafi and the conflict going on in Libya.) I mean, yeah, most people want non-bias (that's a given) but it's really not what we have going on right now.
On a side note, and I hate to bring this up, wasn't mass media and brainwashing used uh...by Hitler? And I know not all people fell for it (an aunt related by marriage on my mom's side hated the Nazis, in spite of her older brother being one is just one example.) I mean, yes, the hate and negative sentiments need to exist already, but the media can definitely make a bad situation worse. It's sad, but no matter how much you try to teach people independent thinking, there's going to be a large majority that's still looking around trying to figure what everyone else is going to do. It's just in a lot of people's nature to do so (that's why people can be easily lead or deceived at times.) Still, I can't say I condone censorship of opinions, and I can't say the media is to blame for everyone's hate crime or actions...I just think the two aren't mutually exclusive--people are a product of more than just their parent's and teacher's upbringing. I mean, experience is a major part of it, too. So, raising them to be independent thinkers may not work, because there are outside influences affecting the personality also. I think I'm just contradicting myself now, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at--it's not a black and white issue of "if you raise your kids right, then it doesn't matter what the media produces." Likewise, one can't say "the media is to blame, because they only showed one side of an issue, and I didn't take the time to research or think for myself, so my actions are the fault of the media."
I'm going to stop there before I sound dumber than I already do...>_>