Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mainstream Media Bias Against the President?

Does the Herald have a bias against Obama?


Consider the front page story that appeared about the last debate Tuesday morning.

On the front page [very significant] clearly labeled “news analysis” [also significant] is the headline: “The winner: maybe Obama.”  Hmmmm.  What does that suggest? To me, it casts doubt, creates suspicion,  hints that things are not as they seem, that perhaps there’s some manipulation or falseness involved.  You know, like the conspiracy to make the unemployment numbers seem better than they are.


Is this bias?  If one considers the levels of choice and decision making involved in getting something on the front page of a newspaper, perhaps it is. The writer, Marc Caputo, first decides on which words to use—what they infer and suggest and what they actually say. Caputo chooses “maybe.”  Hmmmmmm. Then his editor and his editor review and allow, “maybe.” The fact that it appears in the paper on the front page no less, suggests the management and owners of the Herald approve.


Then the story itself; it starts off with the first 5 or 6 paragraphs that seem to be pro-Romney. The next few paragraphs are a bit more neutral and slightly pro-Obama. Then it says, damning with faint praise: “And the president probably won, but he probably needed a far bigger win to change the trajectory of the race. He didn’t score the type of knockout that Romney did during the first debate. So Obama, who started to close the gap after the second debate, is likely to still trail in the polls….  A sign Obama was behind: He went on the attack early and often with one-liners and barbs. Romney held his own, but it’s tougher to score on defense.”


Poor, honest, hard-working, all-American Romney, struggling to hold his own against the vicious attacks of the nasty black man who isn’t even a citizen!


There’s no question of the slant in that article. Yes, the Herald labeled it “news analysis” which means opinion, but the fact of it’s being on the front page, suggests a strategic series of choices by those deciding what goes on the front page—the management team, to put it there.  Is this bias? If we know that most people don’t read the labels such as “new analysis” but only the headlines: “The winner: maybe Obama,” I think we have the kind of subtle bias that has not only characterized this campaign but all the coverage of the President.


The October 15 issue of the Christian Science Monitor in an article entitled: “Are the mainstream media biased?” has this paragraph near the end: “The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism crunched numbers late last year and found that coverage of Obama had a negative tone more often than did coverage of Republican presidential aspirants [right? That gang of charlatans and buffoons got more favorable coverage than the President? Can you believe that?].  As of this spring, the project was tracking the tone of coverage for Romney and Obama, and was finding a generally positive tone for Romney from March through May. For Obama, the tilt was more negative.”


So the negative bias seems to be real and pervasive, a constant drip, drip, drip clouding the perceptions of those casual, uninformed consumers of mainstream—I hate to agree with Palin but I will, “lame street” media. Are the casual, uninformed consumers of mainstream media also the uninformed voter and the much vaunted “independents” who still haven’t made up their minds? Maybe.

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