Accountability Journalism

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on November 18, 2009

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-Read the excerpt below from OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

“[President] Obama has been accused by some Republicans of ‘dithering’ about whether to send more troops and deepen U.S. involvement in an increasingly unpopular war,” the Associated Press reports. Nonsense, “report” the AP’s Robert Burns and Ben Feller:

Obama’s drawn-out decision-making on Afghanistan is sending messages. To the Afghan government: Clean up your act. To the Pentagon: I’m no rubber stamp. To the American public: More troops can’t be the sole answer.

To our allies: You can’t trust American resolve. To our enemies: How do you spell “surrender”? To America’s brave soldiers: You are but pawns in my political calculations. Those last three are ours, of course, not the AP’s; and they are equally biased in the opposite direction. But only equally biased.

Here’s another eyebrow-raising example of the AP’s injecting opinion into news coverage, this one by Adam Goldman:

In what could be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, federal prosecutors sought to take over four U.S. mosques and a New York City skyscraper owned by a Muslim organization suspected of being controlled by the Iranian government. . . .

The action against the Shiite Muslim mosques is sure to inflame relations between the U.S. government and American Muslims, many of whom fear a backlash after last week’s Fort Hood shooting rampage, blamed on a Muslim American major.

How in the world does Goldman know it is “sure to inflame relations” between the government and Muslims? The only support he offers is this quote:

“Whatever the details of the government’s case against the owners of the mosques, as a civil rights organization we are concerned that the seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Ah, so it’ll be one of those inflammatory chilling effects!

In reporting on populist host Lou Dobbs’s departure from CNN, the AP’s David Bauder gives plenty of space to Dobbs’s critics:

His resignation was hailed by activists who were seeking his ouster.

“Our contention all along was that Lou Dobbs–who has a long history of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about immigrants and Latinos–does not belong on the most trusted name in news,” said Roberto Lovato, co-founder of Presente.org. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has the legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate.”

Tom Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the leading Latino legal organization, said, “The Latino community can and should celebrate that Lou Dobbs is no longer on CNN.”

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from Dobbs’ home state of New Jersey and the Senate’s only Hispanic member, called it “addition by subtraction” for CNN.

But in reporting on Anita Dunn’s departure from the White House, the AP’s Philip Elliott gives plenty of space to her criticisms:

Since moving to the West Wing, she has been a fierce defender for the administration, a top target of conservative commentators and led a fight with Fox News.

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” Dunn said last month. “And it is not ideological . . . what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”

Elliott quotes no one from Fox, or any other Dunn critic. “Accountability journalism,” which the AP proudly introduced when George W. Bush was president, seems to have morphed into “amiability journalism,” defending the administration in power–except when it is criticized from the left.

Read the original post at OpinionJournal.com. (scroll down for the post “Accountability Journalism”)

Questions

1.  What type of bias are the excerpts from the Associated Press (AP) an example of?

2.  Mr. Taranto states: “‘Accountability journalism,’ which the AP proudly introduced when George W. Bush was president, seems to have morphed into ‘amiability journalism,’ defending the administration in power–except when it is criticized from the left.”  Do you think this is a fair assertion?  Explain your answer.


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
























Answer(s)

1.  The excerpts are examples of bias by spin.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.