In the aftermath of the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday, a lot of information came out, and less than 36 hours we now know that most, if not almost all, of that information was incorrect. As Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) tweeted yesterday:
Phones weren’t shut down, other explosives were not found, there is no suspect in custody. Beyond “there was explosion” most MSM info wrong
— Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) April 16, 2013
Every time something big happens, particularly if it is tragic, the media reports a lot of things that just aren’t so. You’ve heard the saying “if it bleeds, it leads?” Well that is completely true, and every news outlet wants to be the absolute first to report every detail. When things are happening quickly, news outlets report whatever information they have, with no time to fact-check the details to make sure that what they report is accurate. In the 24-hour news cycle, every broadcast news outlet is competing for ratings, so being right, but second to report, does not help. Being wrong, but first to report, can help a broadcast station because they get the reputation as “the first on the scene,” but there is no accountability later for being wrong. After all, it’s a chaotic scene, so how can you blame them for being wrong?
On the right it is considered an axiom that the “mainstream media” is incredibly biased towards the left. Now, this is not a charge without merit - I think it’s hard to deny that most media comes from major cities that tend to lean liberal. But whether or not the media favors the left or the right, both sides know one thing for certain — their candidates will be covered extensively. Every word from Romney or Obama will make the news in some format.
But for anyone outside the two major parties, it is rare to even be mentioned, except in passing as a potential “spoiler” for one candidate or the other in a swing state. To the average voter, then, there are only two people running. One cannot be surprised then that the vast majority of Americans have never heard of third party candidates. They are presented a world where there are only two choices, as if the vast spectrum of political thought can only come in two colors, red and blue.
Take this quiz on USA Today for a perfect example. Immediately upon opening the quiz, you are shown a graphic that is half Obama and half Romney. Every option moves the bar one way or the other. For me, the first couple questions were about the economy and moved it to Romney. But then came questions about gay marriage, the War in Afghanistan, and cutting military spending, which knocked it to the blue side. In the end, my score came out 55%. Were the world truly consigned to two poles, then, I would have to vote Democrat.
Yes, there does appear to be a media bias. I see it all the time, just like you probably do. Part of the reason Fox News does as well as it does is because he simply presents a different media bias than what it’s watchers see elsewhere. They’ve presented something new, and are being rewarded for it.
However, many people don’t believe in media bias. They just don’t think it exists. Well, let’s take a quick lesson in media bias, and some of the reasons for it. For the record, I am the publisher of The Albany Journal, what was once a weekly newspaper in Albany, Georgia but is now an online news website. I’m not telling you this to try and make it out like my vast newspaper experience gives me some insight (I only bought the paper last October after all), but so some stories later on will make some sense.
When talking about media bias, there are some things that happen. I’m guilty of it as much as the next newspaper editor/publisher/news director. Some stories cross my desk, and my natural reaction is to not devote space to them. Even if they don’t cross my desk, I sometimes read articles on other sites and think “I wouldn’t run that”. Sometimes, it’s well founded. An eatery half way across the state that says it is going to start making their own bread just isn’t news for Albany.
Sometimes though, my subconscious makes the decision for me. For example, a story about how laws regarding junk food in schools may be helping reduce childhood obesity. Now, this as an AP story, and I don’t get to run AP stories, but this is a case of one I would probably not have run. Consciously, I would probably argue to myself that I just don’t think my readers would find it interesting, but is that really the reason?
I woke up this morning with news that Ron Paul got a third place finish. It was, most certainly, a disappointment, when we had earlier heard reports he could win the state. However, after crunching the numbers, Paul did surprisingly well, doubling his support from 2008 and was only a few thousand votes behind Romney and Santorum. He did very well, and his team should be proud of that.
Of course, the media is going to use it as an excuse to completely ignore Paul, just as Chris Cilizza did in his post about the different tents of the GOP that Romney and Santorum depended on in the caucus. Yes, I realize the post wasn’t really about Paul, but but in trying to show that there is a “socio-religious conservative” faction and an “Establishment” faction, Cilizza completely ignored the new “faction” that is growing within the Republican Party, the libertarian faction (and no, I don’t mean the Tea Partiers; they have some libertarians, but they also have a bunch of right-wing social conservatives who are just focusing on spending for the moment.) This is not something that should be ignored, since it may just well take over the party and push the other “factions” to the side, as more and more voters desire something approaching sanity.
Recently, the TEA Party movement celebrated its first anniversary. At first the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party activists were dismissed as a few grumpy right-wingers upset that America elected a black president. They were given little credence beyond being an amusing political side show. That soon changed. On April 15th hundreds of thousands of average Americans showed up at protest rallies across the nation, outraged at the “stimulus” package of goodies doled out to special interests, liberal activism organizations and Democrat pet projects. CNN reported that a few thousand people showed up at the rally in Atlanta, but I was there and can assure you that it was close to ten-fold that amount. It was shoulder-to-shoulder for about four blocks in one direction, not counting the people on the side streets.
Once they could no longer be dismissed as a fringe element, TEA Party activists were labeled as “Astro-turf” (fake grass roots), accused of being flunkies of Big Corporate America, mindlessly doing the bidding of their masters. They were accused of being a fabrication of FOX News and the Republican Party. They were accused of being everything except what they are…average Americans, generally with traditional conservative values, who were fed up over 20 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush politics, two political parties who paid only lip service to the people they claimed to serve while engaging in a bacchanalian orgy of political perks, who had finally been pushed over the edge by a pork-laden spending bill of almost $800 billion. They were saying “Enough is enough!”, and they were going to make their voices be heard.
Don’t mess with the White House’s messaging on the sequester. That’s essentially what Bob Woodward, the famous Washington Post journalist, was recently told by an Obama Administration official.
Woodward, who released a book last year about the events that led to the sequester, wrote last week that the spending cuts set to take place tomorrow were the White House’s idea and he has been making television appearances for several days now repeating that claim.
During an interview last night on CNN, Woodward told Wolf Bitlzer that he was willing to debate the sequester with someone from the White House. Biltzer explained, “We invited the White House to send someone here to debate this issue with you, and they declined.”
“Why? Why? Because it’s irrefutable — that’s exactly what happened,” Woodward flatly stated. Woodward then noted that he was getting some pushback, telling Bitlzer that a “very senior person” at the White House told him that he “will regret doing this.”
“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters ‘you’re gonna regret’ doing something that you believe in,” Woodward explained.
While writing the editoral, Woodward apparently let the White House know what he was doing and he was met with resistance from Gene Sperling, a top economic aide, who raised his voice at the journalist.
Looks like the early reports on Ron Paul’s appearence last week on CNN were false. Paul supposedly stormed out of an interview after taking a question on the newsletters controversy. It turns out that what CNN aired was the end of an interview, but not the first several minutes leading up to the question from Gloria Borger about the newsletters:
Paul still could have answered the questions better, but this certainly puts everything into context. Unfortunately, that won’t change the headlines that came after the interview was aired when reporters and bloggers wrote their stories on the interview.
MSNBC had a debate last week. The featured players were clearly Mitt Romney and new frontrunner Rick Perry. Michele Bachmann, who had been catapulted to “frontrunner status” after her win in the Aimes Straw Poll suddenly felt shut out. Welcome to the world where the media tells us who to vote for.
OK, that might be just a tad cynical, but it’s not that far from the truth. For example, Michele Bachmann received tons of press after her Aimes win, while Ron Paul’s second place finish barely got a mention. The result? A huge bump for Bachmann. Now that bump is starting to slide as much of her base eases over to Perry, who the press immediately gave lots of time to.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed either. For example, the New York Times seems to be seeing it as well, though they don’t necessarily disagree with the practice.
Mrs. Bachmann won the first important test of the Republican race in a straw poll in Iowa last month, but she has been upstaged ever since by the entrance of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas into the race.
She was uncharacteristically restrained at a debate last week in California while Mr. Perry and Mitt Romney tore into each other as if they were the only two candidates on stage. Moderators from MSNBC and Politico played into the storyline by returning to them repeatedly and giving each ample time to rebut the other. It was not until 14 minutes in that Mrs. Bachmann got to speak.
When they focus on these so-called “major players”, they give the impression that they’re the only real players. Instead, if they gave equal time to all candidates, then the people of the United States of America could easily make up their own minds. Unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen.
The media conveniently forgot that distrust in with the government isn’t new. While they are now slamming tea party protesters and others speaking out against President Barack Obama and his policies, they disregard the protests during George W. Bush’s presidency.
It was once your right to speak out against the government. Now you can’t do it without being called a “hater” or “unpatriotic” or “racist.” My how things change once the other side is in power.
There was a lot to protest, so I’m not taking up for Bush. I’m just pointing out that protesters were just as vitriolic then as they are now, as you can see in this video.
H/T: QandO (and just about every friend on Facebook)