The Media vs. The War on Terror

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on September 13, 2006

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from Rich Noyes' Sept. 11th Special Report post at mrc.org.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the question.

MRC analysts analyzed 496 stories that aired on ABC’s World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News between September 11, 2001 and August 31, 2006. They examined all evening news stories about three major elements of the post-9/11 war on terrorism: the treatment of captured terrorists at Guantanamo Bay (277 stories); the National Security Agency’s program to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists calling to or from the U.S. (128 stories); and the USA Patriot Act (91 stories). Major findings:

  • ABC, CBS and NBC…favored critics of the Patriot Act. Of 23 soundbites from “experts” (such as law professors or ex-FBI agents), 61 percent faulted the law as a threat to privacy rights. Of 19 soundbites from ordinary citizens, every one condemned the Patriot Act, despite polls showing most Americans support the Patriot Act and believe it has prevented new acts of terrorism.
  • Most of the network coverage of Guantanamo Bay focused on charges that the captured al-Qaeda terrorists were due additional rights or privileges (100 stories) or allegations that detainees were being mistreated or abused (105 stories). Only 39 stories described the inmates as dangerous, and just six stories revealed that ex-detainees had committed new acts of terror after being released. ….
  • Most network stories (59%) cast the NSA’s post 9/11 terrorist surveillance program as either legally dubious or outright illegal…. Only 21 stories (16%) focused on the program’s value as a weapon in the War on Terror.
  • ABC, CBS, and NBC were five times more likely to showcase experts who criticized the NSA’s surveillance program. Of 75 total soundbites, 41 of them (55%) condemned the program, compared to just eight (11%) from experts who found it worth praising. The CBS Evening News has so far refused to show any pro-NSA experts.

The debate is not about whether reporters can challenge a president and his policies during a time of war. Of course they can. But the networks have chosen to highlight the complaints of those who paint the Bush administration as a danger equal to or greater than the terrorists themselves. Reporters could have spent the past five years challenging the administration with an agenda most Americans share, demanding that the government do everything within its lawful powers to protect the public and prevent another attack. Instead, liberal reporters have opted to join the ACLU in fretting that the War on Terror has already gone too far.…..

For the complete report, click here.

Questions

Do you agree with the suggestion in the last paragraph:
“Reporters could have spent the past five years challenging the administration with an agenda most Americans share, demanding that the government do everything within its lawful powers to protect the public and prevent another attack.”
?
Explain your answer.


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Answer(s)

Opinion question.  Answers vary.