Example of Media Bias:

A terrible drama is unfolding in Afghanistan: There are reports that Said Musa, [an Afghan convert to Christianity] will soon be executed for the ‘crime’ of choosing to become a Christian. (For background, see here.)

Musa was one of about 25 Christians arrested on May 31, 2010, after a …TV program showed video of a worship service held by indigenous Afghan Christians; he was arrested as he attempted to seek asylum at the German embassy. He converted to Christianity eight years ago, is the father of six young children, had a leg amputated after he stepped on a landmine while serving in the Afghan Army, and now has a prosthetic leg. His oldest child is eight and one is disabled (she cannot speak). He worked for the Red Cross/Red Crescent as an adviser to other amputees.

Musa was forced to appear before a judge without any legal counsel and without knowledge of the charges against him. “Nobody [wanted to be my] defender before the court. When I said ‘I am a Christian man,’ he [a potential lawyer] immediately spat on me and abused me and mocked me. . . . I am alone between 400 [people with] terrible values in the jail, like a sheep.” He has been beaten, mocked, and subjected to sleep deprivation and [other physical] abuse while in prison. No Afghan lawyer will defend him and authorities denied him access to a foreign lawyer.  ………

In a letter smuggled to the West, he said…”Please, please…help me.”

[Musa] has not…appealed to be released, only to be transferred to another prison. …..

Newspapers in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe have reported the story, but with, the exception of the Wall Street Journal and [National Review], American

outlets have not found it worthy of attention. The Journal reports that “Afghan officials have been unapologetic: ‘The sentence for a convert is death and there is no exception,’ said Jamal Khan, chief of staff at the Ministry of Justice. ‘They must be sentenced to death to serve as a lesson for others.'”

[The New York Times also reported on Musa’s plight in their February 6 paper – they spelled his name slightly differently as Sayed Mussa.

But…searches of the Nexis database for “Said Musa”, “Sayeed Mussa” or even “Afghanistan” and “convert” show no coverage by network television or major newspapers as of Feb. 22, 2011.]

The U.S. government – reportedly including Secretary of State Clinton – and other governments have pushed for his release, but to no avail.

(Read the original commentary with background links included at nationalreview.com/corner/260050/america-quiet-execution-afghan-christian-said-musa-paul-marshall.)

Identifying Media Bias

To accurately identify different types of bias, you should be aware of the issues of the day, and the liberal and conservative perspectives on each issue.

Types of Media Bias:


1.  What type of bias is the excerpt an example of?

2.  Before reading this excerpt, had you heard of Said Musa’s impending execution? 

3.  If Mr. Musa was a convert from Christianity to Islam and Christians were going to execute him for his new faith there would be many news reports about his situation. Why do you think the media chooses to ignore this news story?

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


1.  Bias by omission and story selection.

2.  Answers vary.

3.  Opinion question.  Answers vary.