Barely a news story

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on September 9, 2015

Barely a news story

Example of Media Bias:

The excerpt below is from a Media Research Center report:

CBS on Monday and Tuesday ignored Barack Obama’s latest executive order, this one affecting 300,000 workers. NBC and ABC skimped on the story, offering just seconds. On the NBC Nightly News, Kate Snow [announced], “With the stroke of the President’s pen on this Labor Day, about 300,000 workers will get something many have fought for: guaranteed paid sick leave.”

On Monday’s Today, Sheinelle Jones [related], “President Obama signs an executive order affecting hundreds of thousands of American workers. The measure requires that federal contractors give paid sick leave to employees including about 300,000 workers who currently do not receive it.”

Repeating administration talking points, she uncritically announced, “The Labor Department said the cost will be off set by fewer people leaving their jobs and increases in worker loyalty.”

NBCNews offered a similar line, vaguely noting, “The White House wouldn’t specify the cost federal contractors would face to implement the executive order.”

Of course, there was no criticism of the move on NBC and ABC [although the move is opposed by the affected businesses and many Americans].

Combining Today and Nightly News, NBC on Monday allowed a total of 42 seconds. Good Morning America on Monday managed 14 seconds. CBS skipped the story.

Transcripts of the September 7 news briefs can be found below:

NBC Nightly News 9/7/15 7:05
KATE SNOW: With the stroke of the President’s pen on this Labor Day, about 300,000 workers will get something many have fought for: guaranteed paid sick leave. President Obama announced an executive order giving sick leave to employees of federal contractors, among others. Starting in 2017 they’ll get up to seven sick days a year, depending on how many hours they work.

NBC’s Today 9/7/15 9:30
SHEINELLE JONES: Taking a look at the headlines on this Labor Day, President Obama signs an executive order affecting hundreds of thousands of American workers. The measure requires that federal contractors give paid sick leave to employees including about 300,000 workers who currently do not receive it. The Labor Department said the cost will be off set by fewer people leaving their jobs and increases in worker loyalty.

ABC’s GMA 9/7/15 7:14
TOM LLAMAS: And on this Labor Day, President Obama is signing an executive order that requires federal contractors to give employees paid sick leave. The order will affect about 300,000 workers. The President will also call on Congress to extend paid sick leave to private sector workers as well.

Questions

1. What do you learn from NBC and CBS about the executive order President Obama signed on Labor Day mandating federal contractors to give paid sick leave to employees? (These are private businesses which are hired to complete projects for the government.)

2. Contrast this with the New York Times news report on President Obama’s announcement. (Read the Times’ excerpt under “Resources” below.)

3. What type of bias do NBC, ABC and CBS exhibit in their reports on this news story?

(Challenge:  note the types of news stories the networks had time for during those news programs – was it the migrant crisis in Europe? the upcoming debate in Congress over President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as the Senate returned from recess on Tuesday? the presidential primary race? …)


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

Resources

In the Sept. 7 New York Times article “Obama Orders Federal Contractors to Provide Workers Paid Sick Leave” the reporter informed readers that the president’s order is controversial:

…Mr. Obama’s executive order on paid leave was his latest use of executive power to change the rules of the American workplace and was designed to appeal to his union base. A fight over trade this year ruptured the usual alliance between the Democratic president and the organized labor movement.

The paid leave order is the latest move by Mr. Obama to use his power over federal contracts to institute changes on a small slice of the labor market when he cannot persuade Congress to enact those measures for the whole country. …

Mr. Obama’s assertive exercise of his authority over federal contractors has generated objections from business groups that argue he is going too far and from lawmakers who complain that he is circumventing the legislative process. Critics say he is piling expensive directives onto companies doing business with the federal government as a sop to his political base without accounting for additional costs.

The National Federation of Independent Business, while acknowledging that Mr. Obama has the authority to place conditions on federal contractors, said his latest action was another burdensome government mandate on private firms.

“No business in America would require its suppliers and contractors to increase costs that will naturally boomerang back in the form of higher prices,” said Jack Mozloom, the federation’s media director. He said any call by the president to follow suit would ignore the fact that most employers are small businesses that cannot afford the benefit.
























Answer(s)

1. What do you learn from NBC and ABC about the executive order President Obama signed on Labor Day mandating federal contractors to give paid sick leave to employees? (These are private businesses that do jobs for the government.)

NBC and ABC informed viewers that President Obama signed an executive order on Labor Day mandating federal contractors give paid sick leave to employees and that this order will affect about 300,000 workers. NBC also informed viewers that the Labor Department said the cost will be off-set by fewer people leaving their jobs and increases in worker loyalty.

2. Contrast this with the New York Times news report on President Obama’s announcement. (Read the Times’ excerpt under “Resources” below.)

In its news report, The New York Times informed readers that the president’s executive order was controversial: the reporter implies President Obama wanted to appeal to his base – unions – with whom he had had disagreements; that he has used executive order before; that he did it to make the change he’d like to make in all businesses if he had Congressional approval; that business groups are opposed to his actions because they will increase costs for companies and in turn cause higher prices and that most employers are small businesses that cannot afford to pay such a benefit to employees.

3. CBS exhibits bias by omission – it does not even mention the story. NBC and CBS bias by spin – bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, to the exclusion of the other. Both networks made it sound like a straight news story (they omitted to report that this was a highly controversial action by the President.)