Sunday, March 20, 2005

Unrelenting Spin, Unrelenting Bias

Cori Dauber over at Rantingprofs performs an invaluable service. Every day she reads thoroughly through the NY Times, Washington Post and other media newspapers and discusses her findings in her blog. She is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies (and of Peace, War, and Defense) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Today in one of her posts "At Least they Covered It" she shows just how biased the Times is for about the millionth time:

I can't help mentioning that this is on the front page. Or that this is on the front page.
Yet the article, "Insurgency Loses Ground, Top Marine In Iraq Says," is stuffed inside the paper on page A-5. (The online edition has the slightly different headline, "Insurgency Is Fading Fast, Top Marine in Iraq Says,")

But the lead paragraph is the same in both editions:

The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, a development that he called evidence that the insurgency was weakening in one of the most violent areas of the country. (My emph.)

Notice the phrasing there, by the way -- a development he called evidence. And what, prey tell, would the reporter consider evidence that the insurgency was weakening? That is the great mystery of press coverage of this war. What stable metric can the military count on as evidence that they're doing real damage to the enemy and things are improving, at least on the security side?
Today was the 2nd anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. You would think this story would merit front page coverage. Clearly it is far too positive for the front page. I guess we should just be grateful, as Cori suggests, that they bothered to print it at all.

If you want to check out some of the other in-depth analyses of how the media covering the war, how about this one? Or this? Every day, with few exceptions, multiple instances of how the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan is being distorted; spun and mischaracterized by the mainstream news. The good news is buried (or not mentioned at all); the bad it trumpeted over and over. There is a complete lack of understanding about military matters generally; and specifically an incredible disinterest in familiarization with the way the military works (you might think this would be important--particularly if you intend to criticize the military on a regular basis. It would be nice if you knew what you were talking about). Occasionally, an outlet produces something reasonably balanced, but not often enough for anyone to trust what they say; or to mitigate the overall impression one gets that they want you to think that everything is a disaster and utterly hopeless.

I would question such paranoid feelings...except..except that on a daily basis, I see the same stories that give evidence to the unrelenting spin and unrelenting bias of the mainstream media. I'm just glad Cori reads them all and documents them, so I don't have to anymore.

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