No one can dispute that the major media outlets have a direct and indirect affect on our population. How much effect and whether the effect is good or bad is something that can be disputed. From ads to product placement, every time we turn on our TV sets we are constantly bombarded with everything other then what we are looking for.
If you are still in doubt as to how much effect television has on our population consider these facts: When Bill Clinton played his Saxophone on live TV, the sale of Saxophones went up, when President George H.W. Bush made the wreck less statement "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli" the sale of broccoli went down, and when a La Perla bra was featured on Desperate Housewives
the stores sold out within days.
Yes one can argue that the situations above were "accidents" but what about times when news and entertainment networks use valuable air time to trash private citizens? In 2006 Dick Wolf (Law and Order's chief) made a stand in character for Elisabeth Hasselbeck co-host of The View. He named the character Elisabeth Hassenback and in the episode she was raped and murdered. Of course this drew criticism from thousands of viewers, even people who disliked Elisabeth didn't approve of what Dick Wolf had done.
These are not standalone situations; media outlets continue to force their political and religious views on the general public even when the programming has nothing to do with politics our religion. How much effect this is having on our population can be argued but sitting back and thinking that our media networks do not have a hidden agenda is just ludicrous.
* You can also have a look at: Mass media on politics