AP Headlines Bush Slip Of The Tongue

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on January 25, 2006

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from James Taranto's "Best of the Web" post at opinionjournal.com on Jan. 19th.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

NewsBusters.org, a project of the Media Research Center, criticizes the Associated Press for an allegedly snide headline:

The President met at the White House [yesterday] with Iraqi victims of the regime of Saddam Hussein. After spending an hour or so with the victims, and families of victims, he allowed the press in for a couple of minutes. The AP decided that the most worthy piece of information on the day, the thing that belonged in the headline, was the fact that the President either mispronounced or stumbled on the word “butcher.” They highlighted that fact in their headline, “Bush Meets Victims of ‘Butcherer’ Saddam.

Possibly the AP decided its headline had been unfair, because the story at NewsBusters’ link now reads “Bush Meets Victims of Saddam’s Reign.” But a Google or Yahoo news search turns up plenty of instances of the “butcherer” headline.

Newsbusters defends the president:

I don’t think anyone would argue that President Bush is the most articulate man to ever hold the office. But this is just nonsense. Anyone who speaks in public with any regularity makes gaffes. It is impossible not to. Republicans have theirs highlighted and ridiculed, because they indicate lack of intelligence, while Democrats have theirs ignored, because they represent simple mistakes that anyone might make. At least in the template worldview of the mainstream press.

But actually, this whole kerfuffle is over nothing. Butcher can be either a noun or a verb, so butcherer is a perfectly good word meaning “one who butchers.”

For the complete posting, go to NewsBusters.org

Questions

Why do you think that the AP changed its headline in the example below from “Bush Meets Victims of ‘Butcherer’ Saddam” to “Bush Meets Victims of Saddam’s Reign”?


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
























Answer(s)

Opinion question.  Answers vary.  Two possible answers:  When the AP’s focus on the president’s mispronunciation was pointed out, they knew it made them appear unfairly critical of the president, so they changed the headline.  OR  The AP knew their headline was inappropriate (perhaps readers contacted them about it) so they changed it.