‘Embarrassing News’

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on October 8, 2008

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Read the excerpt below (from the James Taranto's Oct. 6th "Best of the Web" posted at OpinionJournal.com). Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

‘Embarrassing News’
The McCain campaign has released Todd and Sarah Palin’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns, the Associated Press notes in a brief dispatch, which ends as follows:

The McCain-Palin campaign had said the tax returns would be released Monday, but it suddenly put them out Friday afternoon–a time long used by government to reveal embarrassing news because few people watch TV or read newspapers Friday evening and Saturday.

And the Palins’ tax returns are embarrassing because . . . well, the AP doesn’t say in its brief (129-word) dispatch. A later, longer version of the dispatch, which contains the same closing paragraph about “embarrassing news,” reveals that the Palins’ tax liability for 2007 turned out to be greater than they thought when they filed for an extension in April. As a result they may owe the IRS interest but not penalties. That’s embarrassing?

Could it be that the AP just throws in that disclaimer about “embarrassing news” on all Friday afternoon stories? Nope, … when Joe and Jill Biden released their tax returns three Fridays earlier, no such disclaimer was included in the AP’s report.

It did, however, mention that “the Bidens’ move is designed to pressure Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin to release her financial records.” Apparently in the AP’s eyes, all news is embarrassing to Sarah Palin. …

Read the entire post at OpinionJournal.com.

Questions

1.  Do you think the fact that the Palins may owe the IRS interest but not penalties is embarrassing to them?

2.  Do you think that the AP displayed a double-standard in reporting on Sarah Palin’s release of her tax returns and Joe Biden’s release of his tax returns?  Explain your answer.

3.  What type of bias is the excerpt below an example of?


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
























Answer(s)

1.  Opinion question. Answers vary.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.

3.  The excerpt is an example of bias by spin.  Spin involves tone – a reporter’s subjective comments about objective facts. [NOTE: subjective is defined as “influenced by or based on personal beliefs or feelings, rather than based on facts;” objective is defined as “based on real facts and not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings.”