CNN Reports on Protests Against Israel

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on January 7, 2009

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-Read the excerpt below (from James Taranto's "Best of the Web" posted at OpinionJournal.com on Dec. 30)
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

CNN has a roundup of protests against Israel’s self-defense: “In London, England, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy.” A Berlin demo[nstration] drew 2,000…bigger than London’s, but still tiny by historical German standards. Elsewhere:

Protesters also have taken to the streets in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, according to news reports. There also were reports of demonstrations in Caracas, Venezuela.

Iranian media reported that thousands took part in anti-Israel demonstrations in Tehran on Monday, which the government declared a day of mourning for the Palestinians in Gaza. . . .

In the Muslim world, demonstrations also were held in Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Libya and Bahrain, the BBC and other news outlets reported.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the world’s population at around 6.75 billion. By our back-of-the-envelope calculation, the protesters in CNN’s report accounts for roughly one-millionth of that number, and about half of them are in countries ruled by autocracies that use anti-Semitism as a tool to preserve their power.

Yet the network headlines the story “World Rallies Around Palestinians Amid Gaza Offensive.” This is an enormous exaggeration. Or maybe it is a small world after all.

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”

Questions

1. What is the problem with CNN’s headline “World Rallies Around Palestinians Amid Gaza Offensive”? 

2. What type of bias is this an example of?


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
























Answer(s)

1.  CNN’s headline gives the reader the wrong impression – it implies that the majority of people around the world oppose Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip.  Based on the numbers and locations of people protesting against Israel, CNN cannot know where the majority of people in the world stand on this issue.  The importance of an accurate headline is that most people don’t read every word of every article; they often just skim the headlines and the opening paragraph. That means the people who read just the headline and first paragraph possibly got an inaccurate impression of world opinion on this issue.

2.  This headline is an example of bias by spin – it is the reporter/editor’s opinion about the Israeli-Hamas conflict.