TV Networks Oppose AZ’s Illegal Immigration Law

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on May 12, 2010

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from Tim Graham's May 6th "Media Reality Check" post from MediaResearchCenter.org.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

NOTE:  Arizona has enacted a new law cracking down on illegal immigrants in response to a dramatic rise in violence along the Arizona-Mexico border. The new law authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest anyone reasonably suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Under the new law, state and local law enforcement officers are authorized to determine during lawful stops the immigration status of people for whom there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally. Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard requiring that before someone is arrested or detained there must be reasonable belief that the person has been, is or is about to be engaged in criminal activity. Read the excerpt from the MRC report below, and then answer the questions.

… [As a recent] Rasmussen [poll] found 70% of Arizonans favored the [new law] on illegal [immigrants], and new national media polls found majority support as well, ABC, CBS, and NBC denounced the popular will as short-sighted and discriminatory.

From April 23 to May 3, the top three television networks offered viewers 50 stories and interview segments on their morning and evening news programs. The tone was strongly hostile to the law and promotional to the “growing storm” of left-wing protesters: 37 stories (or 74 percent) were negative, 10 were neutral, and only three were positive toward the Arizona law’s passage — 12 negative stories for every one that leaned positive. Stories were much kinder and sympathetic to illegal aliens than they were to police officers. Cops were potential abusers of power. Entering the country illegally was not an abuse of power. It was portrayed as an honorable step by the powerless.  …………….

While several stories forwarded outrage from the Mexican government over the Arizona law, none of the network stories mentioned the hypocrisy: Mexico has a stricter immigration-enforcement regime on its southern border than America does. As with sympathetic media coverage of large amnesty rallies in 2006, none of the stories allowed anyone to suggest it was improper for illegal aliens to petition the government whose laws they’re breaking or cancel out the votes of law-abiding citizens.  ……………

Viewers would assume protesters were in the majority. ABC Saturday anchor David Muir touted May Day protests on World News. “Angry backlash from coast to coast. Huge rallies across this country tonight against that new controversial immigration law.”

Real poll numbers were not important. The networks were very reluctant to note that the Arizona law was popular: only five stories mentioned that the protesters [opposed to the law cracking down on illegal immigrants] were on the losing side of public opinion, where almost 90% of those polled by CBS consider illegal immigration a serious problem. It’s a stunning contrast, then, that 74% of the stories channel the view of a tiny minority. When pressed, Americans suggested to pollsters they’re sympathetic toward the poverty of illegal aliens and concerned about race-based harassment. But the Big Three TV networks demonstrated no professional appetite for neutrality or civility on this conflict.

Read the complete report at MRC.org.

Questions

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

2.  Why do you think the media is focusing on opposition to Arizona’s new law, when a large majority of Arizonans and Americans support it?


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
























Answer(s)

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

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.