NBC News Doctors a Tape

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on April 4, 2012

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

From a post by OpinionJournal.com’s editor James Taranto (original post date 4/2/12):
Like everyone else who has commented about the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman, we don’t know if this was a case of justifiable homicide, murder or something in between.

The Washington Post [informs us about some distorted reporting from] an NBC “Today” show report, [which] included a clip from a Zimmerman call to 911 in which he said these words: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

Zimmerman did say those words, but there were other words between the two sentences:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy–is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

In the real clip, you could argue that Zimmerman comes across as paranoid or overzealous. But to [distort] the quote to make him seem racist, as NBC did, is both inflammatory and dishonest. (The Post quotes an NBC statement that the network has “launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story.”)

Again, none of this is to argue that George Zimmerman is innocent. Lynch-mob justice and smear-job journalism are just as wrong if the target is guilty.

Questions

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

2.  Why do you think NBC chose to leave out the dispatcher’s question?


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
























Answer(s)

1.  The excerpt is an example of bias by omission and spin.

2.  Opinion question.  Answers vary.