Wannabe Pundits

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on November 5, 2008

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below (from the James Taranto's Best of the Web posted at OpinionJournal.com on 11/5/07).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

NOTE: A pundit is a person who gives an opinion in an authoritative manner (most typically political analysis).  A wannabe pundit is someone who usually writes about sports, entertainment, food, technology or some other nonpolitical topic, but feels compelled to insert political commentary into his work.

Wannabe Pundits (from OpinionJournal.com)

OK, see if you can guess the topic of a column by Lee Benson of Salt Lake City’s Deseret Morning News. It begins as follows:

The financial news from the front–the president wants another $196 billion for wars that have already cost $600 billion–is bleak.

The financial news from the campaign trail–where candidates are going to spend $1 billion trying to become president–is depressing.

Here in Utah, the financial news from the private school voucher fight–where people on both sides have already spent $9 million (how about settling it with a coin-flip and give the money to the kids?)–is astonishing.

Give up? Here’s the next sentence:

But if you want financial news you can really grind your teeth over you have to move into the world of Alex Rodriguez, also known as A-Rod, who just this week told the New York Yankees he doesn’t want the $25 million they’re offering him to play baseball for them next season.

And Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times injects politics into a car column:

I spent a week in an up-spec Impreza WRX five-door ($29,833) and came away wondering why Subaru would dilute one of its core products in hopes of attracting a mainstream audience that will never, ever materialize. Come on, Subaru, follow the GOP model: Pander to your base.

This analogy doesn’t even make sense. The GOP often attracts a “mainstream audience,” as in the presidential elections of 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004. Stick to cars, Dan.

And then there’s this, from Tony Long of Wired News. Long remembers the 69th anniversary of Orson Welles’s radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’s “War of the Worlds.” Many listeners didn’t realize it was fiction and thought Martians actually had landed in New Jersey. … Long opines:

The resulting hysteria–people fleeing in their cars, barricading themselves inside their homes–led to calls for stricter regulation of radio broadcasting to prevent this sort of thing from occurring again. Fortunately, it was the Roosevelt administration and not the Bush administration that steered the ship of state in those days, and the furor eventually died down.

Right, because FDR would never do anything hysterical like lock up tens of thousands of innocent American citizens.

Questions

1.  What type of bias are the excerpts below examples of?

2.  Do you think it’s OK for columnists writing about sports, etc. to interject political bias into their columns?  Explain your answer.


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
























Answer(s)

1.  The excerpts are examples of bias by spin.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.