Tuesday, July 18, 2006

From back in January - On Media BIAS

The recent flak over the President's listening in on international calls involving suspected or potential terrorists, and the Abramoff scandal clearly illustrate media bias and the danger it represents to Americans.

If you casually read headlines and listen to news reports from most media outlets today, you will get two impressions: 1) President Bush has been illegally and indiscriminately bugging domestic calls between American citizens and 2) Jack Abramoff's illegal activities are tied almost exclusively to Republicans. Neither impression would be even remotely accurate. You have to pay only slight attention to see how it is done.

Regarding the NSA eavesdropping story, apparently our agents discovered a cache of phone numbers in a computer and some cell phones captured from Al Qaeda operatives overseas. They then secretly tapped those numbers for obvious reasons. There may have been other numbers as well, but so far it appears they were only listening to international calls involving suspicious person. The program has lead to arrests and terror plots foiled. All this seems to be reasonable in times like these. So, how does the American liberal media see the story? Not only does the media discount the value of such a program, but they support the criminal act of revealing the classified program, and they repeatedly "convict" Bush of doing something illegal when there is considerable evidence to support the legality of the Presidents actions. These reporters were aghast at the leaking of an unimportant non-covert CIA employee's name (Plame), claiming such an revelation could endanger the security of the USA and the lives of agents; now they seem okay with the leaking of a program clearly aimed at trapping terrorists and preventing wholesale murder of Americans around the world. They also ignored at least one related story, covered widely in the world press, regarding the administrations successful capture of terrorists in Italy. Those guys were planning to kill lots of Americans in America, but if that story were reported accurately it would support Bush's methods of uncovering these plots. This kind of dishonest, politically motivated reporting and non-reporting is irresponsible at best and seemingly treasonous at worst. It is pretty clear that any story that hurts Bush has to be reported aggressively and any story that might support Bush
has to be ignored or buried on page 17. This should not be tolerated, regardless of your political affiliation.



I read the front page story on the Abramoff indictment in USA Today on Wednesday. The writer stated that politicians tied to Abramoff were "almost two-thirds Republicans". This would mean over one-third were Democrats, but they failed to name a single Democrat in the "news" piece, while naming several Republicans. Since Democratic Senators of no less stature than Minority Leader Harry Reid and potential Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are among the more than 33% of those currently tied to Abramoff's money, you think an honest reporter might have at least mentioned their names. The page-two story in the same paper concluded that Republicans "appear" to be more tainted with scandal, citing a poll where 47% of those polled thought Republicans were dishonest, while only 44% felt the same about Democrats. Since the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, that makes the poll results pretty much dead even on that issue. In that piece they once again do not name a single Democrat connected to Abramoff while naming several prominent Republicans.

I watched about 15 minutes of Hardball last night to see how Matthews would treat the Abramoff story. He referred to Abramoff as a "Republican lobbyist". I'm not sure what makes a lobbyist as Republican or a Democrat, but that statement gives one the impression that Abramoff worked the Republican side of the isle. They had a text crawl on the lower third of the screen listing politicians tied to Abramoff and the amount of money involved. In the first ten minutes or so, only one Democrat was listed, while some Republican names appeared more than once. It was some 12 minutes into the show, about the time most people would have stopped reading the crawl, before the names of several Dems, including Clinton and Reid, showed up. I was hoping they would list them alphabetically to be fair, but they decided to weight the front-end with Republicans. This sort of thing seldom happens by accident.

Of course, lobbyists work any angle to serve the interests of their clients.

Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives should not be willing to sit still for this kind of bias in the media when so many Americans go uninformed, and base their opinions on slanted and incomplete information. I am all-for hanging every politician who did anything illegal in either case, and I won't allow my personal political leanings to cause me to turn a blind eye to their wrong doings, or to the way these stories are manipulated in the press. Unless more Americans start doing a little critical thinking when forming opinions, our democracy and way-of-life is in some peril.


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