-Read the excerpt below from Scott Whitlock's post at Media Research on Jan. 22.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.
The three major networks, through Thursday morning (Jan. 22), devoted 67 minutes and 49 seconds to obsessing over every aspect of whether the New England Patriots cheated in their AFC championship win on Sunday (Jan. 18). Yet, only ABC allowed a scant 34 seconds to the Obama administration’s release of five terrorists out of Guantanamo Bay and back to areas connected with extremist violence. The contrast is 120-to-1.
NBC was, by far, the most lopsided in terms of journalistic priorities. From Monday through early Thursday, the network’s morning and evening shows produced 33 minutes and 35 seconds to the so-called “Deflategate.” Last week, however, NBC didn’t offer any coverage to the release of five detainees, just seven days after the slaughter of cartoonists in Paris.
ABC came in second, devoting 19 minutes and four seconds to examining every detail of the deflated footballs used in the Patriots win over the Colts. Even reaction to the State of the Union on Wednesday was secondary. Yet the network managed only 34 seconds for Guantanamo. Last Thursday, Good Morning America’s Amy Robach briefly related, “Well, the U.S. has freed five more detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The men were accused of fighting for Al Qaeda.”
She ominously noted, “Many of the prisoners were transferred to Oman which shares a border with Yemen, a hotbed of al Qaeda activity.” That 16 second story was followed up with an 18 second report on Thursday’s World News.
CBS, like NBC, didn’t cover the release of the terrorists. Yet, the network focused on Deflategate for 15 minutes and ten seconds. On Wednesday, during a segment on the State of the Union, co-host Gayle King quizzed Vice President Joe Biden: “What do you make of Deflategate, that 11 of the 12 balls allegedly that the Patriots used in that championship game were underinflated. What do you think of that, soft balls?”
Not only did the release of the detainees get almost no coverage, the contrasting football story featured hyperbolic language.
On January 21, GMA’s Robin Roberts proclaimed it a “super scandal. On January 22, George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, “The embattled Patriots coach speaking out this morning as more cheating allegations emerge.”
World News’s David Muir deemed it a “bombshell.” A CBS This Morning graphic promoted the story as a “pressure cooker.”
Americans oppose closing Guantanamo 53-29 percent, according to a new Rasmussen poll. Yet, shuttering the detention facility has been an Obama administration priority since the President issued an executive order on January 21, 2009. Now, President Obama appears to be trying to achieve his goal a few prisoners at a time. (In December of 2014, six detainees were released.)
While the networks have been flooding America with coverage of deflated footballs, they have been quietly covering for the President’s unpopular attempts to close Guantanamo Bay.
1. What type of bias do the “Big Three” networks display in their news coverage on these stories?
2. Do you think producers at CBS, NBC and ABC purposely underreported the release of the Gitmo terrorists? Explain your answer.
3. Why do you think the media in general does not refer to the “detainees” as terrorists? (see usatoday)
Something to consider: The Defense Department announced on Jan. 14: Al Khadr Abdallah Muhammad Al Yafi, Fadel Hussein Saleh Hentif, Abd Al-Rahman Abdullah Au Shabati and Mohammed Ahmed Salam were handed over to Oman and Akhmed Abdul Qadir was transferred to Estonia.
Try to find photos of these men. The media should be curious as to who they are, what they look like, why they were held at Gitmo for so long (how long?) and what they did. — If the men are innocent, isn’t it the media’s job to tell us about it?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
1. Bias by story selection and omission.
2. Opinion question. Answers vary.
3. Opinion question. Answers vary.