Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I stopped watching the evening TV news a long time ago.  I considered it biased before Bernard Goldberg wrote his book Bias.
I normally watch the local six o’clock news and 10p.m. news. Yesterday, I was watching the 5p.m. local news because I was going to the Morton High School basketball game that night and would miss the 6p.m. segment.  I got involved in something and the news carried over into the evening news (NBC news).  

The program had a “sound bite” news segment about a Congressional investigative committee dealing with the hurricane and New Orleans.  The NBC news segment showed two black women testifying before the committee.  The segment showed the following being said by the two women (These are not actual direct quotes since I wasn’t taking notes but they are correct in the substance of what was being said.):  “I believe”, “I think”, “I represent”, “If the residents of New Orleans were not poor, black people the government would have had a plan.”  The reporter also said a public opinion poll of poor black residents of New Orleans (We know how reporters love public opinion polls when the polls support their viewpoint.) said that six out of ten poor black residents polled thought the government response was slow because they were poor black people.

The problem with the news story, of course, is that not one single shred of evidence was relayed to support the opinions expressed.  The witnesses presented in the newscast “thought” something was true.  The witnesses “believed” something was true.  The poll was based upon the perceived opinions of the people polled.  It may have made for good liberal “sound bite” news but it said absolutely nothing to support the opinions expressed.  Because someone believes something to be true; that does not make it true.  You would think even liberal news reporters would know that!        

Today, the Peoria Journal Star printed a column (12/7/05, page A4) by national columnist Kathleen Parker—a generally conservative to moderate columnist in comparison to the other columnists published by the Star).  I’m going to quote the beginning and the end of the column and let you draw your own conclusions.  The headline is “All the news that’s fit to ignore.”

“Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, (Lieberman), Murtha, Murtha, Murtha.

That’s about how news coverage has gone the past several weeks concerning Rep. John Murtha’s call to withdraw from Iraq versus Sen. Joe Lieberman’s call to stand fast.  And the media wonder why newspaper circulations are dropping and why Fox News dominates television ratings.

It’s not that Murtha doesn’t deserve airtime to voice a point of view many Americans share.  It’s that Lieberman surely deserves at least equal time for a point of view that other Americans, as well as most Iraqis, share.

Those who rely on traditional news sources other than The Wall Street Journal, which published an op-ed by the Connecticut senator, may not even have known that Lieberman recently returned from Iraq.  Or that his conclusions were that the U.S. has to keep fighting the insurgency, and that two-thirds of Iraq is in ‘pretty good shape.’”

(The concluding two paragraphs.)  “And why, we might wonder, have the media, always so insistent in denying liberal bias, been so willing to play one story and not the other?

I’m just asking.”  


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