Patterico's Pontifications

8/14/2004

Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News Article

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 10:11 pm

Liberal bias takes many forms. When the alleged bias is the omission or distortion of critical facts, demonstrating the bias is a more straightforward project. But there is a more subtle and far more pervasive bias that is harder to explain to skeptics: a bias based on the wording of a piece. This sort of bias manifests itself in the tone, the word usage, and the perspective of a piece. I am going to attempt to explain this sort of bias today, by showing some of the devices used.

Today the Washington Post prints one of those articles that drive conservatives like me crazy. The article, a front-page news analysis titled Kerry Put On Defensive About Iraq, just drips with sympathy for Kerry. But I don’t find any clear misstatements of fact in the piece. The bias is in the way it’s worded, starting with the very first paragraph:

Over the past week, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have thrown Sen. John F. Kerry on the defensive with a daily assault designed to tarnish his credentials as a possible commander in chief. But the orchestrated attacks also revealed the president’s vulnerabilities on the issue that continues to shape the presidential campaign as much as any other.

I chuckled when I read the part about the “orchestrated attacks.” It reminded me of the survey that one web site did of all the times Dan Rather had used the phrase “carefully orchestrated leak.” You will not be surprised to learn that Rather always used the phrase to refer to alleged leaks by Republicans. Republicans are apparently the masters of “orchestration,” whether you’re talking leaks or attacks.

You see, whenever one candidate criticizes another, there are two ways to characterize what’s happening. If you think the criticism may be valid, you will refer to the criticism passively, and discuss the “mounting criticism” of the candidate being criticized. But if you don’t like the criticism, then you will refer to the criticism as an “attack.” You will consistently phrase the description of the criticism in the active voice, as in: “Cheney attacked Kerry over the issue of . . .” Rather than saying that the parties voicing the criticism have “pointed out” their opponent’s misstatements, you will say they “seized on” those misstatements.

This is the approach taken by this piece, beginning with its title: “Kerry Put On Defensive About Iraq” (rather than simply: “Kerry On Defensive About Iraq.”) It is replete with phrases accusing Bush and Cheney of attacking Kerry. Here are a few examples:

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have thrown Sen. John F. Kerry on the defensive with a daily assault designed to tarnish his credentials . . .

. . . .

The attacks also underscore the urgency within Bush’s campaign to deny Kerry a sustained post-convention bounce.

. . . .

Given that reality, Bush has gone on the offensive against Kerry.

. . . .

Bush and Cheney have seized on Kerry’s comment that he would vote again to give Bush authority to go to war, his claim that he would try to reduce troop strength significantly during his first six months in office and his comment about waging a more sensitive war on terrorism.

The GOP attacks followed a familiar pattern. Bush struck first . . . [t]hen Cheney moved in with tougher language designed to raise questions about Kerry’s reliability. Bush and Cheney also selectively interpreted Kerry’s words to cast them in the worst possible light.

. . . .

Cheney seized on a comment Kerry had made to the Unity convention of minority journalists about how he would differ from Bush on terrorism.

. . . .

Cheney fired back that sensitivity never won a war.

. . . .

Bush has also put Kerry on the defensive over a comment the Democrat made about troop levels in Iraq.

It’s hard to read the piece without coming to the conclusion that Bush and Cheney are just a pair of bullies. But what are they doing? Simply engaging in partisan rhetoric characteristic of any presidential campaign — rhetoric that Kerry engages in as well. Yet Kerry and his advisers are never described as “attacking” the Administration.

Another interesting thing about this news analysis is that it is told from the point of view of the Kerry campaign. In narrative fiction writing, this form of narrative viewpoint is known as a “limited omniscient” or “third person restricted” viewpoint:

To foster greater emotional involvement by the reader, the third person perspective can be limited to just one character. The narrator is still an objective observer, but one who comments on the thoughts and actions that are available only to the chosen character.

This is the way the news analysis is written. We see the thoughts of the Kerry advisers as though we can see into their minds: “Kerry advisers see the criticisms as both wrong and distorted.” But the thoughts of the Bush campaign are a matter of speculation — the writer seemingly has to guess what Bush and his advisers are thinking: “Bush’s goal appears aimed at shifting the focus of the debate from what has happened in Iraq to who can best be trusted to keep the country safe in the future. . . ”

What difference does it make to tell a story from the perspective of only one party? Roger Ebert once explained how, by making Norman Bates the protagonist of the horror film “Psycho,” Alfred Hitchcock was able to get the audience to see things from Bates’s point of view — to the point where, at times, we are actually rooting for the killer to get away with his crime:

The sequence ends with the masterful shot of Bates pushing Marion’s car (containing her body and the cash) into a swamp. The car sinks, then pauses. Norman watches intently. The car finally disappears under the surface.

Analyzing our feelings, we realize we wanted that car to sink, as much as Norman did.

The point: we are more likely to identify with, and sympathize with, the party whose point of view is given prominence.

It would be possible to tell the exact same story that is told in the Post news analysis, but put a completely different spin on the facts, by simply changing the tone, the facts that are highlighted, and the point of view that is emphasized. To demonstrate this, in the extended entry, I have placed the original story in the left-hand column, and have placed in the right-hand column a rewritten version of the story — one that uses the techniques I have just described, to spin the analysis to favor Bush. I think you’ll find that the rewritten version conveys a very different overall impression.

Kerry Put On Defensive About Iraq Kerry On Defensive About Iraq
Over the past week, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have thrown Sen. John F. Kerry on the defensive with a daily assault designed to tarnish his credentials as a possible commander in chief. But the orchestrated attacks also revealed the president’s vulnerabilities on the issue that continues to shape the presidential campaign as much as any other.

The volleys over terrorism came after Kerry and his advisers believed they had put behind them most questions about his capacity to lead the country in a war on terrorism. Instead, Kerry and his advisers allowed themselves to be drawn into a new debate about Iraq and terrorism and were forced to rebut daily charges that Kerry has equivocated and sent conflicting signals on national security.

Kerry advisers see the criticisms as both wrong and distorted. But the exchanges are a reminder of how the issue of Iraq has bedeviled Kerry’s candidacy first in the Democratic primaries and now the general election as he has navigated between the demands of the antiwar faction in his party and a desire to project strong leadership to a general-election audience.

The attacks also underscore the urgency within Bush’s campaign to deny Kerry a sustained post-convention bounce. With some polls showing that Kerry made clear gains against Bush on terrorism and national security, the president’s weakness on the issues that once were his great strengths is on clear display.

More than half the country disapproves of how the president has handled Iraq, and reservations about the situation there have spilled over into attitudes toward Bush on terrorism. The fighting there this week is a reminder that Iraq is far from stabilized, regardless of how much Bush talks about the progress that has been made. Given that reality, Bush has gone on the offensive against Kerry.

Kerry designed his convention in Boston around a single goal, to establish the Democratic nominee as capable of being commander in chief. He assembled his former Swift boat crewmates and retired military brass to offer testimonials to his courage, experience and judgment. Bolstered by some polls, Kerry advisers argued that the four-day convention did exactly what they had hoped.

But Kerry left himself susceptible to criticism with his effort to draw clear distinctions with Bush on how he would have dealt with Iraq before the war and how he would differ with Bush on the future course in Iraq and the war on terrorism. Bush and Cheney have seized on Kerry’s comment that he would vote again to give Bush authority to go to war, his claim that he would try to reduce troop strength significantly during his first six months in office and his comment about waging a more sensitive war on terrorism.

The GOP attacks followed a familiar pattern. Bush struck first, elevating the issue and drawing more attention to the criticism than any of his surrogates could have attracted. Then Cheney moved in with tougher language designed to raise questions about Kerry’s reliability. Bush and Cheney also selectively interpreted Kerry’s words to cast them in the worst possible light.

At the beginning of the week, Kerry said that, even if he had known then what is known now about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, he still would have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war. But he qualified that by criticizing Bush for going to war without more international support and for rushing to war without a plan to win the peace. “I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has,” he said. Bush chose to ignore that qualifier.

Cheney seized on a comment Kerry had made to the Unity convention of minority journalists about how he would differ from Bush on terrorism. “I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history,” he said.

Cheney fired back that sensitivity never won a war. “America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive,” he said. “A ‘sensitive war’ will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more.”

Kerry allies accuse the vice president of taking the comment out of context. Bush allies say it is Kerry who has sown confusion with his own words.

Bush has also put Kerry on the defensive over a comment the Democrat made about troop levels in Iraq. In an interview with National Public Radio, Kerry said, “I believe that within a year from now, we could significantly reduce American forces in Iraq, and that’s my plan.”

Bush responded that establishing artificial timetables for troop withdrawals will embolden insurgents in Iraq to wait out the United States and will make Iraqi citizens more timid in taking responsibility to defeat the insurgents themselves. Kerry advisers said Kerry was only setting a goal, not setting out a timetable. Troop reductions, they said, will depend on bringing more stability to Iraq and training more Iraqis as a security force.

But the Kerry advisers said the other key is to bring in troops from other countries to share the burden. They contended that Bush has so poisoned relationships that only a new president can succeed on that front. Some European diplomats and politicians have privately cast doubt on whether Kerry could easily do what Bush has not.

On the campaign trail, Bush devotes a significant portion of his stump speech to a vigorous defense of his actions in Iraq, which reflects his weakened position politically. But in defending himself as someone who has had no doubts about his decision to dislodge Saddam Hussein, he has contrasted himself with Kerry and has tried to cast doubt on his rival as an equivocator under whose leadership Hussein would still be in power.

In Phoenix on Tuesday night, Bush explained his decision to invade Iraq this way: “I had a choice to make. My choice was do I forget the lessons of September the 11th and hope for the best and trust the word and deeds of a madman, or do I take action to defend America. I will defend America every time.”

Bush’s goal appears aimed at shifting the focus of the debate from what has happened in Iraq to who can best be trusted to keep the country safe in the future, and he casts the choice as one between a president who knows the difference between good and evil and a challenger who finds shades of gray wherever he looks.

Kerry is equally determined to fight back on his own terms and to try to hold the president responsible for what has happened to the image of the United States around the world. It is a debate that will go a long way in determining the outcome of the election in November.

Over the past week, Sen. John F. Kerry has been on the defensive, confronted with mounting concerns about his credentials as a possible commander in chief. In attempting to respond, Kerry and his allies have mounted an orchestrated attack on the president’s handling of the Iraq war. The dispute over Iraq continues to influence the presidential campaign.

Kerry has tried to avoid any further questions about his capacity to lead the country in a war on terrorism. However, his campaign has been dogged by growing criticism that Kerry has equivocated and sent conflicting signals on national security. As a result of these mounting questions, the Kerry campaign has been thrown back on its heels, with Kerry and his advisers forced into a defensive mode.

The apparent strategy of the Kerry campaign is to try to paint the growing criticism as both wrong and distorted. But critics say that the issue of Iraq has bedeviled Kerry’s candidacy throughout his campaign, as he has tried to appease the antiwar faction in his party, while at the same time attempting to project strong leadership to a general-election audience.

Polls have failed to show a sustained post-convention bounce for Kerry. Bush allies note that, though recent polls may appear to show Kerry gaining on Bush on national security issues, Bush still leads Kerry on these issues. Moreover, they say, the polls do not take account of recent questions raised about Kerry.

Almost half of the country approves of how the president has handled Iraq, though reservations about the situation there — fueled by attacks by Kerry and rabid opponents of the war, such as Howard Dean — have spilled over into attitudes toward Bush on terrorism. Although Iraq is far from stabilized, sources close to Bush point out that much progress has been made.

Kerry hoped that the Democratic convention would establish him as capable of being commander in chief. Kerry advisers have tried to argue that the goals of the convention were met. Some of Kerry’s former Swift boat crewmates claimed that Kerry has shown courage, experience and judgment. However, since the convention, hundreds of veterans, including many who served with Kerry, have argued to the contrary.

Bush campaign advisers point to recent controversial comments by Kerry, including his statement that he would wage a more “sensitive” war on terrorism. Bush advisers also dispute that Kerry would have done a better job on Iraq before the war, or that Kerry would do a better job in the future on Iraq or the war on terror. They note that Kerry has said that he would vote again to give Bush authority to go to war. Yet Kerry admits that he would try to reduce troop strength significantly during his first six months in office.

The Bush campaign believes that Kerry is so weak on national security issues that they have advised Bush to raise the issue personally, which has had the expected effect of drawing more attention to the criticism. Vice-President Cheney has echoed Bush’s concerns with comments that highlight the growing questions about Kerry’s reliability.

At the beginning of the week, Kerry said that, even if he had known then what is known now about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, he still would have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war. But he qualified that by criticizing Bush for going to war without more international support and for allegedly rushing to war without a plan to win the peace. Kerry did not explain how he would have convinced nations like France to go along with the decision to invade Iraq.

Cheney pointed to a comment Kerry had made to the Unity convention of minority journalists about how he would differ from Bush on terrorism. “I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history,” Kerry said.

Cheney noted that “sensitivity” never won a war. “America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive,” he said. “A ‘sensitive war’ will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more.”

Although Kerry allies try to argue that Cheney took Kerry’s comment out of context, Bush allies respond that Kerry has sown confusion with his own words.

Kerry also found himself on the defensive over a comment that he made about troop levels in Iraq. In an interview with National Public Radio, Kerry said, “I believe that within a year from now, we could significantly reduce American forces in Iraq, and that’s my plan.”

Bush explained that establishing artificial timetables for troop withdrawals will inevitably embolden insurgents in Iraq to wait out the United States and will make Iraqi citizens more timid in taking responsibility to defeat the insurgents themselves. Kerry advisers claimed Kerry was only setting a goal, not setting out a timetable. They argued that troop reductions will depend on bringing more stability to Iraq and training more Iraqis as a security force.

Although Bush has tried to convince other countries to share the burden by providing more troops, Kerry claims that he will have more success on this front. Kerry partisans claim that Bush has poisoned relationships with other countries, and that Kerry could convince these countries to provide troops. European diplomats and politicians privately dispute this claim.

Bush has argued that his actions in Iraq were necessary to defend the American people. Bush advisers dispute claims by the Kerry campaign that Bush’s emphasis on Iraq suggests weakness. They say that Bush has shown himself to be a strong leader who harbors no doubts about his decision to dislodge Saddam Hussein. In stark contrast, they say, Kerry is an equivocator under whose leadership Hussein would still be in power.

In Phoenix on Tuesday night, Bush explained his decision to invade Iraq this way: “I had a choice to make. My choice was do I forget the lessons of September the 11th and hope for the best and trust the word and deeds of a madman, or do I take action to defend America. I will defend America every time.”

Bush advisers explain that Bush wishes the country to focus on a single issue: who can best be trusted to keep the country safe in the future? Bush casts the choice as one between a president who knows the difference between good and evil and a challenger who finds shades of gray wherever he looks.

The apparent strategy of the Kerry campaign is to shift the focus to a different issue: the alleged negative image of the United States that Kerry claims Bush has created around the world. It is a debate that will go a long way in determining the outcome of the election in November.

UPDATE: Many thanks to those who have linked to this post. I hope new readers will bookmark/blogroll the site and return often.

49 Comments

  1. And today, there’s a piece on Bush and Hurricane Charley relief. The hook? How Bush is still trying soooooo hard to be different from his father. Not that he is. He’s trying to appear asif he is.

    Comment by Justene (0bb977) — 8/15/2004 @ 10:20 am

  2. Wonderful demonstration, Patterico! Required reading.

    Comment by Claire (222d9a) — 8/15/2004 @ 12:27 pm

  3. Brilliant!! As a college writing instructor (the only conservative in my department), I especially appreciate the comparison.

    Comment by Sherry (cc40ee) — 8/15/2004 @ 5:15 pm

  4. Well done. This is exactly the tactic required to demonstrate media bias.

    I once did the same with a headline from my local paper to point out the liberal bias to a liberal friend who couldn’t see it. I rewrote it to reflect a conservative bias — and then again to report the incident without a spin.

    It was the most success I’ve ever had in that type of dispute.

    Comment by Craig Howard (bdb1a0) — 8/15/2004 @ 8:13 pm

  5. I live in the DC area and get the Wash Post on Sundays. A couple of weeks ago (the week of the Dem Convention), the above the fold frontpage headline was something to the effect of “Kerry says Bush untruthful about Iraq War”. Meanwhile, what should have been a frontpage story was buried on the frontpage — of the style section — gushing with reasons why the Sandy Berger story should go away.

    And on the frontpage of the Business section was an above the fold article talking about how businesses really hadn’t benefitted from the Bush tax cuts — get this — because localities had raised property taxes and gas prices had gone up. Thus the “benefit” of the Bush tax cut was lost.
    Not a SINGLE mention of how much worse off businesses would have been WITHOUT the tax cut.

    Keep up this type of work. More needs to be done with this.

    PS I have always wanted to do a study where you isolated people from the news and fed them stories presented in the ways highlighted above. Just to show that the way the media presents stuff truly makes a huge difference….

    Comment by only_truth (b00c04) — 8/15/2004 @ 10:24 pm

  6. Outstanding work Patterico.

    Comment by Chris B (eaa483) — 8/15/2004 @ 11:39 pm

  7. Great way to demonstrate perspective. I don’t see the changes you made so much as the conservative counterpoint as much as an example of impartial journalism. Many of your changes are so subtle as, yet substantial, as to almost escape notice. You have managed to remove the bias in the original without diluting the facts. Well done.

    Comment by Richard @ TBR (428193) — 8/16/2004 @ 6:12 am

  8. This is very good work. I wish I had been so creative as to think to do something like this…

    I’m sure it also hones your debate skills (as well as your patience) that are required when talking with a Lib. Invariably, they always bring the discussion around to how bad Bush is. For demonstration purposes, let me throw out a little incident that happened at work…

    We were having a meeting on OSHA Safety Rules and my supervisor (a Liberal of the most staunch and unwavering persuasion), decided at some point after the meeting had started that he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut about his political opinions and came out with the statement that “If we are so concerned about safety, then we need to get our troops out of Iraq and Bush out of the White House.”

    Talk about bringing politics and Liberal bias into a place where it is clearly inappropriate! Yet, what do you say in a situation like that, when as a Conservative you are in 180-degree opposition to your supervisor who is a die-hard Liberal?

    Comment by Kasey (2d8909) — 8/16/2004 @ 7:27 am

  9. I agree Patterico, that damn liberal media – they slant everything in the favor of liberals! Here are some things I learned in the Liberal media (many of which are lies):

    Al Gore said he invented the Internet, Gore took undeserved credit for investigations into toxic waste in the “Love Canal” in upstate New York, Gore tried to steal the election, Clinton smoked weed and was mocked for “not inhaling”, Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick, Hillary seeked confidential background reports on former White House staff (filegate), I heard about the Whitewater scandal for years (however the word of the dismissal of Whitewater was very short-lived), Can you say “Monica Lewinsky?” – I hope you can since her name was in the news about a billion times, The Clintons trashed the White House, Clinton attacked Afghanistan to detract from the Lewinsky story, and how about this one, Clinton had a “black child”, anyone remember that?!

    There you have it, proof of a nasty biased liberal media.

    Alan Colmes asks the following in his book:
    If conservatives are the victims of a large scale mass liberal media, then why is it that all branches of the government are now conservative? Is it because conservatives aren’t being heard?

    Good question.

    I have a question of my own: Doesn’t it go completely against the conservative ideology to portray oneself as a victim? If so, conservatives really should stop crying about how they are victimized by a liberal media. (The same liberal media that completely destroyed Bill, Hillary and Gore).

    I could go on and on and talk about Fox News (GOP-TV) being the most watched news station, how talk radio is dominated by conservatives, how polls taken in 2000 of editors and publishers showed that most editors and publishers voted for Bush, etc, etc, blah blah blah – it’s not worth it because conservatives will never concede. If it really breaks your heart whenever you read a liberally biased article, all you have to do is go turn on Fox news, sit down, have a coke and a smile – you’ll feel better within 15 to 20 minutes.

    Excuse me now, I have to go to the store and buy my daily lying communist rag and read about how the traitors (anti-war demonstrators), socialists (union members), baby killers (pro-choicers), tree huggers (environmentalists), pedophiles (homosexuals), anti-americans (liberals) and communists (democrats) plan to destroy the country.

    Comment by Sonny P (2f5f05) — 8/16/2004 @ 10:56 am

  10. Leaving aside Colmes’ ridiculous question and the fact that Clinton was a centrist Democrat, and ignoring the stupid claim that anyone’s playing victim here, just take a look at the examples you gave. You seem to believe the mainstream media ran stories and investigated these things. They didn’t. No stories investigating Gore’s silly puffery ran in the media except to defend him.

    Virtually all your examples are like that. Just as a test of your credibilty, link us to a story about Clinton’s black child, won’t you?

    Mainstream media only, now. No moonbattery.

    Comment by spongeworthy (45b30e) — 8/16/2004 @ 12:54 pm

  11. Brilliant!

    Since my pings aren’t working right now, here’s the link to my post about it: http://www.theartoftheblog.com/the_art_of_the_blog/archives/001409.php

    Comment by J at TAotB (537f7a) — 8/16/2004 @ 2:57 pm

  12. Leaving aside Colmes’ ridiculous question

    Why is that a ridiculous question? If there was such a mass liberally biased media, isn’t it a direct contradiction that all branches of government are now conservative? They didn’t elect themselves to office… It’s no secret that the people in this country get the information they use to make decisions about who they elect to office from the mass media; it’s a perfectly logical question.

    ignoring the stupid claim that anyone’s playing victim here

    Why is this a “stupid claim” as you so eloquently put it? One of the biggest talking points in conservative America today is that they are unfairly treated by the “liberally biased” media. Don’t believe me? Try doing a google search of “liberal media.”

    You seem to believe the mainstream media ran stories and investigated these things. They didn’t. No stories investigating Gore’s silly puffery ran in the media except to defend him.

    Funny you could make a statement like that then have the pomposity to challenge my credibility. March 15, 1999 USA Today ran an article called “Inventing the Internet”, which was the first article to change Gore’s words from “creating”, when Gore made the now infamous statement relating to legislature that created the Internet, to “invented.”

    Virtually all your examples are like that.

    Oh, are they?

    Just as a test of your credibility, link us to a story about Clinton’s black child, won’t you?

    Mainstream media only, now. No moonbattery.

    How about more than one…

    Worldnet Daily
    NewsMax
    (unless of course you are willing to admit that NewsMax is “moonbattery”)

    NewsMax also pointed to the story coming from the Boston Globe but in order to get archives more than a year old from the Globe, you have to pay. So, you will just have trust NewsMax (although, that shouldn’t be a huge problem for you I’m sure).

    Comment by Sonny P (2f5f05) — 8/16/2004 @ 3:09 pm

  13. “If there was such a mass liberally biased media, isn’t it a direct contradiction that all branches of government are now conservative?”

    Nope. It just means that the massively liberal media isn’t all-powerful.

    Comment by Sebastian Holsclaw (f01cac) — 8/16/2004 @ 3:25 pm

  14. Great examples Sonny P. Wow. Bye the way, I’m pretty sure the “supermarket tabloid magazine” that the NewsMax article referred to was not the Boston Globe. Unless you concede that the Boston Globe is a supermarket tabloid magazine. Funny that you would rely on such an article in such a limited publication to represent main stream media. Good one.

    As to your question regarding conservative behaviour, it’s cute, but really, how many issues are to be relegated to only allowing “liberal” viewpoints?

    It really kills you to have one cable network bucking the establishment doesn’t it?

    Comment by Sonny G (brother of Ali) (9af437) — 8/16/2004 @ 4:01 pm

  15. Woops – you are correct about the Globe thing… I didn’t read the entire NewsMax article, I glanced through it and when I saw “Globe” I made the assumption… mea culpa.

    As to your question regarding conservative behaviour, it’s cute, but really, how many issues are to be relegated to only allowing “liberal” viewpoints?

    It really kills you to have one cable network bucking the establishment doesn’t it?

    No it doesn’t kill me, not even a little bit. What does kill me is all the crying I hear from conservatives about a “liberally biased mass media”. I put it in quotes because even the thought that the entire mass media is controlled by the left is laughable.

    Some media is biased to the left, some to the right, but the media doesn’t solely belong to one single political ideology.

    I suggest that the media has one bias for sure – a bias towards sensationalism. For instance, I called my local news stations to find out if this story was covered and the answer I got back was “no, there were no fatalities, so we didn’t send anyone up there.”

    Comment by Sonny P (2f5f05) — 8/16/2004 @ 8:13 pm

  16. And to Sonny G (brother of Ali) as a side note, I think if you are going to make comments on someone’s blog, you shouldn’t hide your identity. The idea being that if you want to scrutinize others, you should be willing to stand up to the same scrutiny. I personally believe that if you care enough about your opinions, you will stand behind them.

    Here are some quotes I’ve found from other bloggers on the net to help illustrate my point:

    If you can’t stand up to what you’re writing, why bother writing at all? If you don’t want you’re writing to be read and associated with you, for God’s sake buy a paper diary and write in it, but don’t publish it on the Internet for millions to read.horst p. prillinger

    Why the anonymity? While I can understand why there are certain venues and circumstances in which anonymity is both understandable or even important (calling a domestic abuse hotline, whistleblowing, etc.), on the whole I don’t have a lot of respect for people who are not willing to put their name on the line with their comments. Either you believe in your words, or you do not. ;) Adam Lasnik

    leaving anonymous comments, although technically possible, in general is cowardly.Anders Jacobsen

    I make no attempt to hide my identity. Therefore, I am 100% accountable for my views and opinions. If these people who post anonymously don’t want to be accountable for their views and opinions, then f**k them!Matt Margolis – a well known conservative blogger

    If you have an opinion, it should be backed up by an identity.Luke Reeves

    In the end, you can do whatever you want, but if you post without providing a real email address or URL, your opinions won’t get much consideration from me.

    Comment by Sonny P (2f5f05) — 8/16/2004 @ 8:23 pm

  17. On 9/11 I was watching ABC for the news of the
    attack.
    I did not know who Peter Jennings was, and I am
    a Canadian, but I never watched American news.
    As I sat there, stunned and horrified, I noticed
    something that felt strange to me. He never called the president…the president. It was
    always Mr. Bush. Well, that was odd, but then
    he did something else that struck me as strange,
    when talking about WHERE WAS THE PRESIDENT….
    said in a way that almost made a person watching
    angry. Ok, then when the president did not
    return to Washington right away, he mumbled
    this. “Well, I suppose every president would do
    it differently.” Spoken with disdain.

    As you can tell, I can still remember his actions
    and words so they were impacting on me.
    I continued to watch ABC for six more weeks, at
    the end of the six weeks, I, who did not know
    the word bias at that time, felt real anger with
    the president. My friends finally asked me what
    was wrong with me, as I don’t usually get this
    upset with a politician. So, I started to watch
    carefully what anyone said on ABC and there it
    was, the bias, and once seen, you can not go back
    to not seeing it.
    It took some time for me to find a place that was
    not biased, certainly the major networks were
    full of it, and I could not get Fox. I tried
    CNN and there it was, big time with Judy W. and
    W. Blitzer and others so I turned to the internet.
    After many weeks of reading the different
    columns, bloggers and newspapers I realized the
    internet was the only place I could find the
    truth as I chose to view it.
    I am now a stauch conservative with respect and
    admiration for President Bush, his family and
    his administration. I do not bother to read the
    liberal spin and certainly do not want to read
    the liberal blogs as the language used there is
    more suited for a men’s only bathroom.
    It was a journey of discovery for me and I have
    spent at least three hours a day learning the
    lessons. I think the American people, the real
    people are wonderfulm they are caring and giving
    and always the first to be there to help even
    what could be called their enemy.
    As for Kerry, I won’t start, I dislike the man
    and would never vote for him. He is a phony.
    It is out there, the big bias, so clear now it
    would take a liberal to not see it. The MSM are
    ignoring the vets to their peril, I think.
    I trust the Swiftvets far more than I trust the liberals.

    Comment by cjg (feaa7c) — 8/16/2004 @ 8:38 pm

  18. Wow Sonny P, is that really your last name? P? Are you from a far off land? I’m sure you don’t mind me asking, as you are obviously dying to change the topic to anything that would take the focus off the blatantly obvious fact that the mainstream media is biased far to the Democratic Party side of every issue. What’s laughable is for you to insist the bias doesn’t exist, even when provided with the miriad of examples on this single website.

    “Some media is biased to the left, (that would be all the major media outlets including every broadcast TV network, the two major national newspapers, NPR, and two of the three major cable news networks), some to the right (that would be most AM talk radio, some minor newspapers, and Fox News Channel), but the media doesn’t solely belong to one single political ideology.” Whoopie! A real zinger! A gotcha! An end-all-discussion-show-stopper.

    If the crying from Republicans annoys you so much, maybe you should just stick to the mainstream media and stop torturing yourself.

    Comment by Sonny G (brother of Ali) (9af437) — 8/16/2004 @ 9:27 pm

  19. I’ll do my best to avoid commenting on your stupid remarks.

    Wow Sonny P, is that really your last name? P? Are you from a far off land?

    No, I’m from the same planet as you, although my real URL is provided when I post, which will bring you to my own blog, where you can get further personal information, like my email address. Like I said, if you post without providing a real email address or URL, your opinions won’t get much consideration from me.

    I’m sure you don’t mind me asking, as you are obviously dying to change the topic to anything that would take the focus off the blatantly obvious fact that the mainstream media is biased far to the Democratic Party side of every issue. What’s laughable is for you to insist the bias doesn’t exist, even when provided with the miriad of examples on this single website.

    Yes this is exactly what I’m doing, my plan has been foiled.

    Whoopie! A real zinger! A gotcha! An end-all-discussion-show-stopper.

    Umm, okay – your puerile response to my point is noted.

    If the crying from Republicans annoys you so much, maybe you should just stick to the mainstream media and stop torturing yourself.

    Irresponsible reporting bothers me as much as it bothers anyone else, and I call it when I see it. But I refuse to concede that the mass media is liberally biased.

    Good luck “Sonny G”

    Comment by Sonny P (2f5f05) — 8/16/2004 @ 10:31 pm

  20. So refuse. We know what we’re dealing with. You can pretty much determine whether a liberal is worth kicking around the issues of the day by how they stand on whether the media is liberal/Democrat biased.

    Some try to redefine “liberal” to mean only the ANSWER loonies or Daily Worker readers. Some use a sliver of the media market to acquit the balance of the mainstream. IMO, that’s just willfully dishonest, but that’s just an opinion.

    But others, like Colmes and you, point to results that you dislike and assume that disproves anything. It’s like saying Pepsi doesn’t advertise because if they did no one would drink Coke. Hey, some folks like Coke over Pepsi, and all the cheerleading in the world won’t change their minds.

    The same applies to liberal claptrap–just because you guys are selling it on a vast majority of news outlets doesn’t mean everybody’s buying. And I’m amazed Colmes would try such a dumb defense.

    Comment by spongeworthy (45b30e) — 8/17/2004 @ 5:28 am

  21. Oh, I see, Sonny G, you’re here browsing over the multitude of evidence showing a “liberal” bias in mainstream media because you want to be bothered.

    You enjoy being annoyed by such things as documented proof and examples that you don’t even attempt to refute, and like to throw out blanket statements, like “…but the media doesn’t solely belong to one single political ideology.” to help in your quest to “refuse to concede that the mass media is liberally biased”.

    Good luck in keeping up the mental wall. It’s not fooling anyone else though.

    PS – your email address and last initial hardly discloses any varifiable identity, hypocrite.

    Comment by Sonny G (brother of Ali) (9af437) — 8/17/2004 @ 8:00 am

  22. You enjoy being annoyed by such things as documented proof and examples that you don’t even attempt to refute, and like to throw out blanket statements, like “…but the media doesn’t solely belong to one single political ideology.” to help in your quest to “refuse to concede that the mass media is liberally biased”.

    Why should I attempt to refute Patterico’s post? I happen to agree that the article was written with a liberal slant and I admire the way he did his rewrite. I never claimed to disagree with his post. My point this entire time has been that I disagree that the entire mass media is “liberally biased.” And as I pointed out in a previous comment, I call irresponsible reporting when I see it.

    PS – your email address and last initial hardly discloses any varifiable identity, hypocrite.

    My challenge to you was for a real URL and/or email address – but somehow I’m a hypocrite – okay. But hey, keep shouting it real loud, soon you will get people to believe it.

    I wasn’t going to include the long boring story, but since you called me a “hypocrite” – I guess it’s time to slap you.

    Conestoga Street, while a couple of months old, recently became my primary blog. I used to run Bionic Jive (which patterico has also linked to in the lefties category on his site – it now redirects to conestoga street). Bionic Jive not only gave you all my personal info, but also an extended biography. I haven’t included all of that on Conestoga Street because the format is very different so I’m still figuring out a way to include it without screwing up the format of my design. And since all my info was up at bionic jive and I linked to it from Conestoga Street, I didn’t think it was necessary to keep it on both sites. However, I just closed Bionic Jive this past week and I am still in the process of moving things over…

    In the meantime though, I went ahead and put my real name on my home page, just for you, although it would have shown up there within the next week or so when I got the time to make edits to my template. Patterico can verify this for you if you care that much, he’s seen bionic jive and commented there.

    I stand behind my words, always have. And that’s plenty more than I can say for you “Sonny G”.

    I’m done with this thread… you can have the last word (And I know you’ll take it).

    Comment by Sonny P (2f5f05) — 8/17/2004 @ 11:01 am

  23. The argument as I see it has been posed is that you are debating an “all or none” stance with regard to quote ‘liberal media’. The media is not entirely ‘liberal’, just like our atmosphere isn’t entirely comprised of Nitrogen (N2), but both outweigh other key elements in staggering proportion (78% N2 and ~90% leftwing drivel re: the media). Rebublican-slanted media is more like the Argon of our infromative atmosphere. While good ol’ Dubya isn’t the best Republican we’ve had represent the GOP (is it too late to clone Ronny?), as a Jeffersonian opting for the lesser of two evils, I must select him over Herman Munster and Butch Patrick (sans the pointed bangs). I realize Sonny P will probably tell me to “shove it” like Heinz heir (hair? — geez honey you’re worth half a billion dollars, couldn’t you get a better coif?). I did like the use of the word ‘puerile’ as this media argument has been exactly that, childish. The point has been belabored by the fact that if you’re a sentient being with any gray matter that the good Lord gave you at birth you’d come to the realization that anyone cognizant of ‘truth’ will not adhere to the wailing of the masses of asses. I for one couldn’t care less about the media bias, and if you’re too dumb to discern ‘truth’ from ‘fluff’, well I hope Darwinian Evolution takes its course and you go the way of the dodo or roa.

    Comment by kurt roessle (30f67a) — 8/17/2004 @ 3:22 pm

  24. “you call this news? this isn’t informative, this is sensationalism! this is entertainment! this is a sound bite!
    …”fortunately, that’s all I have the patience for”

    I quote Calvin, namesake of the famous protestant, a great believer in pre-destination and a constant insight to the very juvenile sensibilities in all of us.

    For every Washington post, there is a Wall street journal, for every ABC there is a Fox. I liked it best when NASCAR was on Fox, that way I wouldn’t have to change the channel all day Sunday. But all that is entertainment that appeals to my Conservative sensibilities, and not how I learn what’s going on in the world.

    Also, anyone smart enough to know what we breathe and the truest origins of his political ideas surely must know that Darwinian Evolution could never apply to a single individual, but I’m sure he was just making a point.

    Comment by Eric (84eed8) — 8/18/2004 @ 10:46 am

  25. Everyone would do well to read up on the “hostile media phenomenon.” A great deal of experimental research demonstrates that ideological partisans consistently tend to think that media is biased against their own particular side of an issue. Here are some cites:

    These are from academic journals, so they may be hard to find if you don’t have access:

    Vallone, R., L. Ross, and M.R. Lepper. 1985. The hostile media phenomenon: Biased perception and perceptions of media bias in coverage of the “Beirut Massacre.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 49:577-585.

    Giner-Sorolla, Roger, and Shelly Chaiken. 1994. The Causes of Hostile Media Judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 30:165-180.

    But these are on line:

    Peffley, Mark, Jason Glass, and James Avery. 2001. Public Perceptions of Bias in the News Media: Taking A Closer Look at the Hostile Media Phenomenon. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, at Chicago, Illinois.

    http://www.as.uky.edu/polisci/faculty/peffley/pdf/MediaBiasMidwest2001_4-04-01_.PDF

    Another thing to consider. There was probably a time when it made sense to talk about “the media” as an undifferentiated mass of information sources. Especially when the Big Three Networks were the primary source of information about national politics for virtually everyone. But, for goodness sakes, take a look around. To suggest that the conservative perspective is excluded from the marketplace of ideas is absurd. Completely absurd.

    So let’s stop talking about “the media” being biased. If you are talking about the New York Times, just say so. If you are talking about CNN or the Big 3, just say so.

    Comment by phil (7d2d06) — 8/21/2004 @ 4:01 pm

  26. Actually, Phil, I generally refer to the bias of the “mainstream media.”

    Your reliance on these studies is a logical fallacy — the fact that partisans see the other side as biased doesn’t mean that the other side isn’t actually biased. At best, if you believe the studies, you should discount to some extent arguments that the media is biased simply because partisans say it is. But that doesn’t excuse your failure to consider their actual arguments, which often have merit.

    Comment by Patterico (f7b3e5) — 8/21/2004 @ 4:58 pm

  27. We’ve been framed
    To create bias in a news article, it’s not necessary to misstate the facts; it is necessary only to establish a specific point of view as the default. Susanna Cornett…

    Trackback by dustbury.com (5a1bcd) — 8/15/2004 @ 9:24 am

  28. Required Reading
    weasel words exposed Patterico has demonstrated how the wording of an article can give vastly different meanings to the same set of facts being …er, ‘reported.’ A definite must read….

    Trackback by e-Claire (75cec2) — 8/15/2004 @ 12:32 pm

  29. All The Spin That’s Fit To Print
    Patterico’s Pontifications: Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News ArticleIt would be possible to tell the exact same story that is told in the…

    Trackback by Daily Pundit (f342d6) — 8/15/2004 @ 2:18 pm

  30. LINK ROUNDUP
    I rarely do these, but a lot of people have send me stuff over the past few days that I’ve…

    Trackback by The Spoons Experience (5ac6f4) — 8/15/2004 @ 4:31 pm

  31. Liberal Bias in the Media?
    Patterico re-spins a Washington Post article. This is a great study, definitely something to consider when confronting the Main Stream Media on a daily basis….

    Trackback by BinaryRoadTrip (94c6d8) — 8/15/2004 @ 5:15 pm

  32. http://www.allahpundit.com/archives/000808.html
    Barring any last-minute cameos, it’ll be crow for breakfast tomorrow. In the meantime, anyone care for an hors d’oeuvre? The new comments system is working like a charm, at least for those of us who managed to get TypeKey to…

    Trackback by Allah Is In The House (574c22) — 8/15/2004 @ 7:27 pm

  33. Side By Side
    Patterico explains the effect of narrative point-of-view, and then illustrates it.

    Trackback by The Horrors of an Easily Distracted Mind (fd779a) — 8/15/2004 @ 9:17 pm

  34. Twofer
    Patterico gets two — count’em, two — links today. First, there’s an excellent analysis of how word choice colors an…

    Trackback by VodkaPundit (150b64) — 8/15/2004 @ 10:12 pm

  35. Just Words
    Patterico has a great exercise on the subtlest form of media bias:Liberal bias takes many forms. When the alleged bias is the omission or distortion of critical facts, demonstrating the bias is a more straightforward project. But there is a…

    Trackback by Shot In The Dark (9bd2a3) — 8/16/2004 @ 5:01 am

  36. BIAS’D
    Wow, Patterico has a great post up illustrating the subtler (although not really subtle at all) ways the media slants a story towards one candidate/political actor or another.  It’s like he’s running a clinic or something!

    Trackback by chiasm.blog-city.com (6b7174) — 8/16/2004 @ 7:53 am

  37. Parlor Trickery
    One of the most interesting things about losing a staff member from one’s own department is receiving their email. Now, I knew that said former coworker was in love with the “non-partisan” Center for American Progress and felt it her

    Trackback by The Argus (af7df9) — 8/16/2004 @ 11:39 am

  38. Interesting reading
    A roundup of interesting stories from around the web, some new, and some a bit older that I’ve accumulated over…

    Trackback by Squidly.com (bbfc0c) — 8/16/2004 @ 7:15 pm

  39. Angles Smangles
    I just read an excellent analysis of reporting at Patterico’s Pontifications. One of the best I have read on media bias, written in stereo. You’ll understand when you read it….

    Trackback by Intergalactic Capitalist, the StarBanker Blog (75cec2) — 8/16/2004 @ 9:09 pm

  40. Oh, That Liberal Media
    Patterico’s Pontifications: Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News Article That the media is biased for Democrats in general and Kerry in particular is not news to most people. But some cannot see it. Patterico shows how the media…

    Trackback by Just Some Poor Schmuck (36e489) — 8/17/2004 @ 12:13 am

  41. …and what has gone on since…
    Weekend notes that do not pertain to me.

    Trackback by yarbroughs dot org (d13dcd) — 8/17/2004 @ 1:24 am

  42. Media Bias Exposed
    Are you old enough to remember what the news media was like when they employed reporters where they now employ partisan shills? Read to the comparison reporting on this page for a taste of non-partisan reporting. “Today the Washington Post…

    Trackback by The Black Republican (40cadb) — 8/17/2004 @ 7:44 am

  43. Patterico’s Pontifications
    First, read his extended post on liberal bias in a news article, which shows how “straight” news stories are easily slanted in a pernicious manner whereby the reader may only register the liberal spin subconsciously and therefore the spin becomes part …

    Trackback by The Key Monk (044bd7) — 8/17/2004 @ 8:53 am

  44. BIAS’D
    Wow, Patterico has a great post up illustrating the subtler (although not really subtle at all) ways the media slants a story towards one candidate/political actor or another.  It’s like he’s running a clinic or something!

    Trackback by chiasm.blog-city.com (6b7174) — 8/17/2004 @ 2:16 pm

  45. Submitted for Your Approval
    First off…  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here, and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now…  here are all the links submitted by members of the Watcher’s Council for this week’s vote. Council links:Libe…

    Trackback by Watcher of Weasels (07c6c2) — 8/17/2004 @ 8:49 pm

  46. Picking At A Scab
    Kevin Drum has discovered a rather large number of seemingly anti-Bush movies: By my count, that makes three separate movies this campaign season that are either pro-Kerry or anti-Bush: Fahrenheit 9/11 Bush’s Brain Going Upriver: The Long War of John…

    Trackback by Sebastian Holsclaw (edff68) — 8/17/2004 @ 11:59 pm

  47. The Council Has Spoken!
    First off…  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here, and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now…  the winning entries in the Watcher’s Council vote for this week are Swift Boats vs. the Media by Alpha Patrio…

    Trackback by Watcher of Weasels (07c6c2) — 8/19/2004 @ 9:05 pm

  48. Silly Watchers
    The Watcher’s Council gave first place to my post Swift Boats vs. the Media this week.Congratulations goes to Patterico’s Pontifications for taking the runner-up spot with his very fine post Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News Article.In the non-memb…

    Trackback by AlphaPatriot (07cc50) — 8/19/2004 @ 10:09 pm

  49. The Council Hath Spoken
    Boy, what a time to get started. Some great entries in this week’s Watcher’s Council, and some great results. Hearty congratulations to AlphaPatriot for winning this week’s Council category with the very informative and interesting entry Swift Boats…

    Trackback by Ubique Patriam Reminisci (465031) — 8/20/2004 @ 12:03 am

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