The Media vs. the Protesters

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on March 24, 2010

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-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto (original post date 3/22/10).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

Anti-ObamaCare protesters gathered on Capitol Hill Saturday, and from the media reports you might have gathered that it was some sort of Ku Klux Klan rally. From the Associated Press:

Rallies outside the Capitol are typically orderly, with speeches and well-behaved crowds. Saturday’s was different, with anger-fueled demonstrators surrounding members of Congress who walked by, yelling at them. . . .

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., told a reporter that as he left the Cannon House Office Building with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a leader of the civil rights era, some among the crowd chanted “the N-word, the N-word, 15 times.” Both Carson and Lewis are black, and Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones also said that it occurred.

“It was like going into the time machine with John Lewis,” said Carson, a large former police officer who said he wasn’t frightened but worried about the 70-year-old Lewis, who is twice his age. “He said it reminded him of another time.”

Kristie Greco, spokeswoman for Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said a protester spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who is black and said police escorted the lawmakers into the Capitol. Cleaver’s office said he would decline to press charges, but Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the U.S. Capitol Police said in an e-mail later: “We did not make any arrests today.”

Clyburn, who led fellow black students in integrating South Carolina’s public facilities a half century ago, called the behavior “absolutely shocking.”

“I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus,” Clyburn told reporters.

A reader who attended the protest sends us this account, which is quite different:

It was the usual mix of very nice people who are very upset by the undemocratic methods being used to run over their rights. …..

I’ve been to all the DC tea party events since last April 15 and have never seen any foam-at-the-mouth types–these are good people, polite but firm in their belief.

…Some have disputed the accuracy of the congressmen’s claims to have been the target of racial slurs; the Washington Times has a video of the congressmen walking by, and no racial epithets can be heard–although that of course doesn’t prove that they weren’t yelled at another time or out of range of the videographer’s microphone…

Food for thought comes from this passage from a Saul Alinsky biography [President Obama’s mentor]…:

College student activists in the 1960s and 1970s sought out Alinsky for advice about tactics and strategy. On one such occasion in the spring of 1972 at Tulane University’s annual week-long series of events featuring leading public figures, students asked Alinsky to help plan a protest of a scheduled speech by George Bush, then U.S. representative to the United Nations, a speech likely to be a defense of the Nixon Administration’s Vietnam War policies The students told Alinsky that they were thinking about picketing or disrupting Bush’s address. That’s the wrong approach, he rejoined–not very creative and besides, causing a disruption might get them thrown out of school.

“He told them, instead, to go hear the speech dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan, and whenever Bush said something in defense of the Vietnam War, they should cheer and wave placards, reading “The K.K.K. supports Bush.” And that is what the students did with very successful, attention-getting results.

Of course it’s quite possible that some knuckleheaded tea-partiers did shout racial slurs. If so, then shame on them. But even if so, it’s telling that the media focus on this. Remember Cindy Sheehan? When she was protesting George W. Bush, reporters routinely presented her as an ordinary grieving mother, eliding [omitting or ignoring] her crackpot anti-American views.

It’s another example of the supposedly objective media siding with liberal politicians–and it doesn’t necessarily help those politicians. If they believe that only nuts and bigots oppose ObamaCare, they may be in for a nasty surprise at the polls this November.

Read the original post at opinionjournal.com. (Scroll half-way down the page for the entry.)

Questions

On Monday, March 22nd, the news service Agence France Press (AFP) ran the story “Most US Media Support Health Care Legislation.”  Do you think the Associated Press displayed bias against the Americans protesting the health care bill by reporting the stories in the excerpt below?  Explain your answer.


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
























Answer(s)

Opinion question. Answers vary.