I enjoy reading Dan’s answers every week.
Most of the questions I received were in the past couple of days and almost all of them dealt with gun control. But I think what I wrote earlier today is a good response to those queries.
So let’s deal with a question (actually two questions) from Minnesota, both of which are very simple and direct: “You deal with reporters a lot. Is the media biased? Or are people on the right just whining?”
First, I’m glad that someone else posed the question, because I wouldn’t be sure whether to ask “Are the media biased” or “Is the media biased.” I’m sure there’s a Grammar Nazi out there who knows the answer.
But back to the point of this post, I think the answer to both questions is yes. Conservatives and libertarians are whining, but that’s very understandable because the press does try to help the other side. And I have several examples.
- This slanted AP story on poverty
- The Brian Ross Tea Party slur
- An example of implicit bias by USA Today
- A Reuters report on job creation and so-called stimulus
- This Washington Post story that turned a spending cut molehill into a “spending slash” mountain
- A silly assertion in the New York Times that education spending has been reduced
- Some anti-gun control messaging from the Associated Press
- A Washington post claim that Germany is fiscally conservative
But I want to emphasize a key point. Media bias very rarely involves dishonesty. Deception yes, but not inaccuracies. It’s almost always about story selection and what gets emphasized.
Even when there’s a clear-cut mistake, such as the jaw-dropping New York Times assertion about lower education spending, I suspect it’s the result of group-think rather than a deliberate decision to lie.
But there often are deliberate decisions to steer the debate in a certain direction, and I there’s a very good example in a new expose by the Daily Caller. They caught the folks at Bloomberg highlighting poll data that helped Obama and burying the results that might give aid and comfort to the GOP.
A poll conducted last week by an Iowa-based firm showed Americans are conflicted about whether or not to support raising tax rates on wealthy Americans to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” But that’s not how Bloomberg News, which commissioned the poll, reported the results Thursday. In a story headlined “Americans Back Obama Tax-Rate Boost Tied to Entitlements,” Bloomberg emphasized only that the poll showed most Americans support President Barack Obama’s insistence on increasing taxes for high-income earners. “A majority of Americans say President Barack Obama is right to demand that tax-rate increases for the highest earners be a precondition for a budget deal that cuts U.S. entitlement programs,” the story, written by reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis, began. …But in the same poll, American adults were asked “whether it is better to raise the top tax rate the wealthy pay, or to limit the amount people can claim in tax breaks, such as mortgage interest and charitable contributions, so they end up paying tax on a bigger share of their income.” Fifty-two percent responded that they preferred limited tax breaks to a tax-rate hike. Only 39 percent said they would rather see tax rates on the wealthy increase. Nine percent indicated they weren’t sure. …Bloomberg mentioned the second question in the story’s 20th paragraph, and gave no indication that the results suggested support for Boehner or House Republicans.
Kudos to the Daily Caller for catching the folks at Bloomberg with the hands in the cookie jar.
Notice, though, that there are (presumably) no falsehoods or fabrications in the Bloomberg report. The bias shows up in terms of what gets prominent coverage and what gets buried.
You’ll be happy to know, by the way, that “Bloomberg News editor and political reporter Jeanne Cummings conceded to The Daily Caller that the poll’s results are apparently contradictory.”
Gee, what a big concession to fairness.
P.S. You can see a couple of good cartoons about media bias in this post, and another good one at the bottom of this post.