A Tale of Two Withdrawals: Respecting Edwards, But Giuliani “Living an Illusion”

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on February 6, 2008

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Read the excerpts below -
Excerpt #1 from Clay Waters' Jan. 30 post at TimesWatch.org 
Excerpt #2 from James Taranto's Jan. 30 post at OpinionJournal.com
Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

EXCERPT #1 (from the TimesWatch.org post):
…Democrat John Edwards and Republican Rudy Giuliani announc[ed] their withdrawal from the presidential race on the same day. It’s an ideal time to note the stark contrast in the Times’ coverage of two candidates, one a left-wing Democrat, the other a moderate Republican. While Edwards was serenaded out the door, Giuliani’s departure was mocked, with the former mayor accused of “living an illusion.”  ….

[Times reporters Julie] Bosman and …Jeff Zeleny posted a story to the Times website Thursday morning on Edwards’ withdrawal announcement, a piece highly respectful of the failed Edwards campaign, in a tone tinged with regret, and suggesting Edwards … was a trailblazer on health care. And they still constantly referred to him as a “populist,” not a liberal.  ….

The Times spun his last-place showings:

“Indeed, Mr. Edwards was poised to collect enough delegates in early nominating contests to potentially influence the outcome at the Democratic nominating convention in August, if neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama won enough delegates to clinch the nomination.”

Couldn’t the same be said about Giuliani? Apparently not. By contrast with Edwards, the Times had nothing good to say about the former New York City mayor.

Wednesday’s lead “news analysis,” “Dizzying Fall For Ex-Mayor,” by …Michael Powell and Michael Cooper. showed no similar respect for Giuliani:

….  The tone throughout was unnecessarily antagonistic.

“Perhaps a simpler dynamic was at work: The more that Republican voters saw of him, the less they wanted to vote for him.

“Mr. Giuliani was a temple-throbbing Italian-American New Yorker who ruled a cacophonous city seen as the very definition of liberalism. He was somewhat liberal on social issues — notably immigration and abortion — where Republican candidates are invariably conservative. And he possessed a complicated family life: he has been thrice-married and has two adult children who rarely speak to him. At the beginning of his campaign last spring, he sat for a celebrity photo shoot smooching with his third wife, who snuggled in his lap.” ….

The Times was almost uniformly hostile to Giuliani during the campaign. A Times Watch count shows that of the 34 stories devoted mostly to Giuliani that have run in the Times since November 26, negative stories outnumbered positive ones by 28-3 (the other three were classed as neutral). ….

Edwards had a good run, in the Times…. Since … late November, there were 24 print stories on Edwards …. Of those, 14 were positive portrayals of Edwards, while only five were labeled negative (another five were graded neutral). 
Go to
TimesWatch.org for the original posting.

EXCERPT #2 (from the OpinionJournal.com post):
[In] an Associated Press story about the Democrat John Edwards and Republican Rudy Giuliani’s decision to withdraw from the race,…the contrast is quite striking. Here is the AP’s Nedra Pickler on… Edwards:

Democrat John Edwards is exiting the presidential race Wednesday, ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voters’ sympathies but never diverted his campaign, The Associated Press has learned.  ….

Pickler also credits Edwards with having “waged a spirited top-tier campaign against the two better-funded rivals.” It seems that he “burst out of the starting gate with a flurry of progressive policy ideas”….

By contrast, the AP’s Devlin Barrett covers the Giuliani withdrawal straight:

Rudy Giuliani, who bet his presidential hopes on Florida only to come in third, prepared to quit the race Tuesday and endorse his friendliest rival, John McCain.  ….

Giuliani finished a distant third to winner John McCain and close second-place finisher Mitt Romney. ….

Barrett notes that the former mayor’s distant third-place finish in yesterday’s Florida primary “was a remarkable collapse for Giuliani”–ultimately a matter of opinion, we suppose, but one with which it’s hard to disagree. In describing Giuliani’s background, he has some kind words, but they are much more tempered than Pickler’s on Edwards:

Giuliani hung his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on his leadership. His stalwart performance as New York mayor in the tense days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks earned him national magazine covers, international accolades and widespread praise.

Yet, Giuliani was always a Republican anomaly–a moderate-to-liberal New Yorker who backed abortion rights, gay rights and gun control in a party dominated by Southern conservatives.

Now it is true that everyone, even reporters, is human. If you spend a good portion of your life covering politics, you are going to develop feelings about politicians, and if you’re not careful, they may slip into your news coverage. What bothers us about this Pickler dispatch–and about many other instances of media bias we’ve pointed to over the years–is that the reporter doesn’t even seem to have bothered to be careful. It may not be possible for a reporter to achieve the ideal of perfect objective detachment, but that’s no excuse not to try.
Go to OpinionJournal.com for the original posting.

 

Questions

1.  In reporting on their withdrawals from the presidential race, do you think that the NY Times and the AP were biased against Republican Rudy Giuliani while showing favor to Democrat John Edwards?  Explain your answer. 
2.  Ask a parent to read the excerpts below and answer the same question.


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
























Answer(s)

1. and 2.  OPINION QUESTIONS.  Answers vary.