Saturday, August 27, 2005

Media Bias on Sheehan

From McBride’s Media Matters:

. . . a discussion of how the media use biased labeling:
Conservatives have long complained that the media are more quick to label them as Conservative in stories but often leave out political labeling altogether when dealing with Liberals. The implication is that Liberals are mainstream and thus need no label but that Conservatives are biased or extreme and thus need labeling.

And so I noticed with interest that the Associated Press story on Cindy Sheehan in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel not only avoided any political labeling of Sheehan or her supporters but at the same time specifically identified Sheehan’s opponents as Conservatives.
And further:
Nowhere does the story say the protesters surrounding Sheehan are Liberal protesters. In fact, Sheehan is surrounded by extreme Liberal organizations such as Code Pink, the organizers of which have long time immersion in radical politics (see earlier posting) and the anti-Israel Crawford Peace House. Well before her Crawford stakeout, Sheehan was staking out extreme political positions, even praising a terrorist lawyer as her “Atticus Finch.”

In the next paragraph, the AP story paints the opponents of Sheehan as political by labeling them “a conservative California based group, Move American Forward....” etc.
A later post by McBride details the continued bias, as unsavory connections of Sheehan are concealed, and partisan opponents of the President (like the discredited Joe Wilson) are trotted out to comment.

The bias McBride noted in the coverage of Sheehan is broad, and it is systematic. A classic study by the Media Research Center simply counted the uses of the word “liberal” and the word “conservative” on the CBS, ABC and NBC evening news programs during 1997-2001.

While the word “liberal” was used only 247 times, the word “conservative” was used 992 times.

For the average liberal reporter, being a liberal isn’t anything significant or worth commenting on. Being a conservative, on the other hand, is to be in thrall of a particular, rather odd, worldview.

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