A Double Standard?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on May 5, 2010

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-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto (original post date 5/3/10).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

“In a blunt caution to political friend and foe, President Barack Obama said Saturday that partisan rants and name-calling under the guise of legitimate discourse pose a serious danger to America’s democracy, and may incite ‘extreme elements’ to violence,” the Associated Press reports from Ann Arbor, Mich.

Two thousand miles away, another AP dispatch reports, there occurred an example of exactly what the president was warning about:

Close to 20 businesses were damaged after what started as a peaceful immigrants’ rights march in downtown Santa Cruz [Calif.] turned violent, requiring police to call other agencies for help, authorities said.

Police spokesman Zach Friend said an estimated 250 people started marching through the city around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

It was a harmonious but “unpermitted and unsanctioned event,” he said, until some in the crowd started breaking windows and spraying paint on retail shops that line the downtown corridor.

Friend said he wasn’t sure if the damage was caused by people marching in support of immigrants’ rights, or if the group was “infiltrated by anarchists.”

Anarchy signs were spray-painted on some of the buildings.

“They’re a group of people who seem to fancy themselves as revolutionaries, but what they really are are a group of morons,” Friend said.

You’ve got to love the way the AP describes this: It started as a peaceful march but “turned violent.” It was totally harmonious “until some in the crowd started breaking windows.” And the window breakers might have just been infiltrators!

Compare this with the lead paragraph of the AP’s March 20 dispatch on the anti-ObamaCare tea-party protests:

House Democrats heard it all Saturday–words of inspiration from President Barack Obama and raucous chants of protests from demonstrators. And at times it was flat-out ugly, including some racial epithets aimed at black members of Congress.

The claims of racial epithets have since been disputed and were never substantiated, but let’s give the AP the benefit of the doubt and assume that at the time, the reporter knew of no reason to doubt the word of the congressmen making the claims.

Even so, had the tea-party protesters gotten the Santa Cruz treatment, the AP would have noted that the rally was completely nonviolent, even if it featured some ugly words; that there was no ugliness at all until the protest “turned ugly”; and that the people who (allegedly) shouted the ugly words might well have been infiltrators.

If the Santa Cruz protesters had gotten the tea-party treatment, by contrast, the AP would have described the event simply as a riot and would not have distinguished between the peaceful protesters and the violent few who might be infiltrators anyway. What’s more, conservative politicians and commentators would be sounding a constant refrain–echoed by the mainstream media–that politicians are inciting the violence with “antigovernment” statements like this one, reported April 23 by CBS News:

President Obama suggested today that the immigration bill expected to be signed into law in Arizona is a “misguided” piece of legislation that “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

We don’t think that journalists should give the Santa Cruz protesters the tea-party treatment or the tea partiers the Santa Cruz treatment. Both sides ought to get the same treatment–fair treatment–from those whose job is to cover the news impartially. …

Read the original post at OpinionJournal.com. (It is the first excerpt posted, “The Santa Cruz Riot”)


Questions

Double standard is defined as a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another. (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary, m-w.com)

Do you think the media displayed a double-standard in their reporting between the tea-party protesters (protesting government spending) and the Santa Cruz protesters (protesting the Arizona law on illegal immigrants)?  Explain your answer.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

Opinion question. Answers vary.