-Read the excerpt below from Tom Blumer's Media Research Center post.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column (or here). Then answer the questions.
In the past 48 hours, the AP reported but then deleted a particularly damning incident involving Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he made the announcement in front of U.S. troops about Bowe Bergdahl’s release. One blogger tweeted a link from an AP story describing what happened when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced to soldiers at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan that Bowe Bergdalh had been swapped for 5 Taliban:
AP reports: “Hagel met with silence when he told troops in Bagram hangar ‘This is a happy day. We got one of our own back.'”
The trouble is that the tweet’s AP link no longer contains the quoted verbiage. Readers going there who are unfamiliar with the AP’s shenanigans will have every reason to believe that tweeter was deliberately misleading them.
Although the blogger’s link was to a mobile version of AP’s story, I can demostrate in a Google News search on the two sentences he quoted that what he saw was once there:
The quoted language wouldn’t appear in the search results above unless it was once actually there in the underlying web pages.
Each of the first three listings now goes to the same story (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) at AP’s national site. Hagel’s quote isn’t there. Hagel’s name isn’t even in the dispatch now posted.
The fourth listing goes to the AP’s “Big Story” web site, which has apparently been designed to be the wire service’s permanent record of its work. The quote’s not there either, nor is Hagel’s name — which is really rich, because “Hagel” is one of the story’s tags, meaning that future searchers will come to the page expecting coverage of Hagel and will get none.
Though AP has purged the verbiage on soldiers’ silent reaction to Hagel on its own sites, not all of its subscribers have – yet. An AP Brief still present at the Sacramento Bee contains the language to which the blogger referred (saved here), and provides enough of the context. As for the deleted fact, read how the wire service tried to explain it:
Visiting troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stepped forward at Bagram Air Field to thank the special operations forces who retrieved Bergdahl, who officials said was the only American prisoner of war still held by insurgents in that conflict. Gen. Joseph Dunford spoke of the excitement that spread through U.S. ranks when the sergeant’s release was confirmed. “You almost got choked up,” he said. “It was pretty extraordinary.”
Tireless campaigners for their son’s freedom, Bob and Jani Bergdahl thanked all who were behind the effort to retrieve him. “You were not left behind,” Bob Bergdahl told reporters, as if speaking to his son. “We are so proud of the way this was carried out.” He spoke in Boise, Idaho, as residents in the sergeant’s hometown of Hailey prepared for a homecoming celebration.
Hagel was met with silence when he told troops in a Bagram hangar: “This is a happy day. We got one of our own back.” It was unclear whether the absence of cheers and applause came from a reluctance to display emotion in front of the Pentagon chief or from any doubts among the troops about Bergdahl.
No wonder this portion of the AP’s reporting has [been eliminated from the AP report.]
Unskeptically relaying General Dunford’s questionable assertion about “excitement that spread through U.S. ranks” is bad enough. But the [suggestion] that the silence might have been due to “reluctance to display emotion” [is unlikely]. Even “doubts among the troops about Bergdahl” downplays the situation. “Anger at someone they believe was a deserter and a possible enemy collaborator” is more like it.
AP and other outlets sholdn’t be revising away initial reports which represent the real first draft of history in favor of the history as they want it presented.
1. What type of bias does the report from Tom Blumer illustrate?
2. Mr. Blumer asserts: “The [suggestion] that the silence [of the soldiers to Secretary Hagel’s announcement that Bowe had been freed] might have been due to ‘reluctance to display emotion’ [is unlikely]. Even ‘doubts among the troops about Bergdahl’ downplays the situation. ‘Anger at someone they believe was a deserter and a possible enemy collaborator’ is more like it. Do you agree with his assertion? Explain your answer.
3. Mr. Blumer also says, “AP and other outlets shouldn’t be revising away initial reports which represent the real first draft of history in favor of the history as they want it presented.” Do you agree with this assertion? Explain your answer.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
1. Tom Blumer illustrates bias by spin and revision.
2. Opinion question. Answers vary.
3. Opinion question. Answers vary.