Networks Ignore Religion Ban at Ground Zero Ceremony

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on September 7, 2011

Jump to...

Print

Directions

-Read the excerpt below from Paul Wilson's post at newsbusters.org.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

Mayor Bloomberg has vetoed the presence of religious speakers at the site of Ground Zero during the memorial ceremony on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, provoking a firestorm of criticism among religious leaders. But the three mainstream news networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – have completely ignored the story.

Since the Wall Street Journal first reported on the exclusion of religion from the ceremony on August 24, ABC, CBS, and NBC have run 71 segments (Nexis searches of 9/11 OR September 11 from August 24 to September 4) mentioning 9/11. Not one of them mentioned the controversy over the absence of religious participation at the Ground Zero ceremony on 9/11.

The networks have shown viewers a Smithsonian 9/11 exhibit and conducted interviews with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush about their response to the attacks. They produced numerous personal and human interest stories…

The networks’ silence is all the more deafening since plenty of major news outlets have covered the exclusion of religion from the ceremony. Fox News Channel covered the controversy during numerous segments…. USA Today’s editorial board also covered the debate on September 6. The Wall Street Journal, as previously noted, broke the story. The mainstream networks, however, remain mute.

Bloomberg also refused to invite first responders to the ceremony, citing space constraints. (The networks ignored that story as well…)

……..

Previous Ground Zero ceremonies on the anniversary of 9/11 were held without prayer. But the ceremony of the 10th anniversary is drawing more attention because of its symbolic value, and religious leaders are asking that their voices be included. …..

…religion [had] a major impact on 9/11. FDNY chaplain Fr. Mychal Judge died while trying to help people in the World Trade Center. Other chaplains of numerous faiths ministered to the wounded men and women of 9/11. And religion was instrumental in helping many through the tragedy of 9/11.

Leaders of religious groups asked Bloomberg to change his mind. William Donahue, president of the Catholic League, called for Mayor Bloomberg to reconsider his decision: “Mayor Bloomberg should reverse his decision, allowing a priest, minister, rabbi, and imam to make a short statement.” And Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission [questioned the Mayor’s decision].

Government officials also criticized Mayor Bloomberg’s decision. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani argued: “If I were the mayor, and this came up, I’d have a religious presence there.” Former New York City deputy mayor Rudy Washington, who organized an interfaith ceremony after 9/11, harshly criticized Bloomberg’s decision: “This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me.”

These voices have not appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC.

(Read the original report at newsbusters.org)

Questions

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

2.  Why do you think the major news networks – NBC, ABC and CBS – have not run any reports on this controversy?


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
























Answer(s)

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

2.  Opinion question.  Answers vary.