Friday, July 23, 2004

Larry Elder wrote an excellent column on media bias the other day. He demonstrates how journalists frame stories to convey a message above and beyond a straight reporting of the facts.
CNN's "American Morning" anchor compared an upcoming Kerry campaign speech to one being given on the same day by President George W. Bush: "President Bush heads to the swing state of Florida today. He'll be in Tampa appealing to conservative voters (emphasis added) with an address on human trafficking and then to a rally in Beckley, West Virginia. . . . And John Kerry will be in Washington speaking to the American Federation of Teachers. He's promising full funding for the No Child Left Behind Act. Later he'll hold a rally in Arlington, Virginia." And exactly what kind of voters did Kerry aim for in his teachers union speech? "Liberal" voters, perhaps?

On the same day, "CNN Headline News" compared the two speeches: "Earlier today, in Tampa, the president addressed the Justice Department conference on human trafficking. He says it's a global problem that the U.S. must tackle head-on. It's also an issue many conservative (emphasis added) voters say is important in November's election. . . . Bush's Democratic opponent is talking to teachers in the nation's capital today. Right now, John Kerry is addressing the American Federation of Teachers. The Democratic candidate says he would fully fund the No Child Left Behind education reforms authorized by Congress."

Wait a sec. Again, Kerry's speech before the teachers union, apparently, does not count as a pitch to his "liberal" base? And when did the issue of human trafficking concern primarily "conservatives"?

Elder hits this one right on the head. "Objective" journalists seem to believe that equal time=balanced reporting. By portraying Kerry's speeches as addressing important issues while implying that Bush is pandering to fringe groups, there is a not-so-subtly hidden message here as to who is the better man for the job.

Elder also did an intersting comparison of how the "three wise men" (Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather) covered the first days in office of President Clinton and President Bush (43) respectively. This one's well worth checking out. You can read the whole column here.

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