Pairing "biased" media

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jul 13 21:20:26 UTC 2009

At 7/13/2009 12:40 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>It would be well to make a distinction between "biased" and "having
>a point of view".  In my vocabulary, "biased" means dishonest
>reporting -- willfully omission of material information, disregard
>or misrepresentation of dissenting opinion, falsification. . . .

I did intend to make that distinction, with my use of "biased".  And
perhaps in contrast to Jon Lighter's

>George describes unscrupulous bias: willfull omission of clearly material
>information, etc.  Neither network, it seems to me, has quite reached that

I do think one can find "willful" -- in the sense of deliberate --
omission of material information in FOX (without too much searching)
and probably in CNN (with perhaps more effort).

For a minor example (two other pairs, although here the more truthful
report is from FOX!), compare CONCACAF's official site's reporting of
the suspension of Mexico's coach Javier Aguirre
with Fox Soccer Channel's (FSC's) news broadcast on Friday evening.

CONCACAF's report says:"Aguirre initiated a fracas at midfield of the
1-1 draw in the 80th minute when he left the technical area
surrounding the Mexican bench to stop a loose ball that Phillips had
been dribbling. Referee Joel Aguilar whistled the play dead when
Phillips had let the ball exit the field of play but continued to
play the ball as if it were live."

Here Aguirre is let off lightly by describing his action as merely
"to stop a loose ball", and Phillips implicitly censured for playing
on after an out-of-bounds whistle.  Yet the replays on Spanish
language television (not quite as clear on the Internet now as they
were during the broadcast of the match) clearly show Aguirre raising
his leg 2-3 feet off the ground and kicking out towards Phillips's
groin, whereas the ball is rolling along the ground.  Aguirre was
suspended for three matches, Phillips for only one.  I am skeptical
that merely "leaving the technical area" merits three matches; I have
seen MLS coaches leave the technical area and receive suspensions of
only one match.

The FSC commentators clearly imputed a kick at Phillips to
Aguirre.  I don't know if a transcript is available, but there are
some video excerpts on the Internet. One is (perhaps all are the same);
look at the third view.  (Spanish television had another shot, a much
clearer presentation angled parallel to the sideline.)  Or for three
stills and commentary:,175817


>The curs who yelp about the bias in liberal media are much more
>likely to maintain their point of view on poverty, climate change,
>evolution, and other topics the right wing holds in scorn, with
>dishonest reporting than is the Times or NPR.
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
>Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
>Date: Sunday, July 12, 2009 1:49 am
>Subject: Re: Pairing "biased" media
> > I think it's hard to find really good matched pairs, especially if
> > you're just looking at reporting and not opinion.  For one thing,
> > although many conservative news sources make no bones that they are
> > using their perspective in giving priority and context to news
> > reports, liberal news sources typically take the position that they
> > present the news straight and restrict editorializing to the editorial
> > pages.  (The Wall Street Journal does this too, and Fox News says it
> > does, but nobody believes them.)  In reality, news sources that take
> > this approach have biases to their reports too, but they typically are
> > for institutional rather than conventional political reasons (e.g., to
> > protect a news source or improve access) and tend to be more subtle.
> > Another problem is that many news sources deliberately run a mix of
> > conservative and liberal reports; MSNBC is the most prominent example
> > of this.
> >
> > The best current newspaper example I've seen is the one below, the
> > Boston Globe (liberal) v. the Boston Herald (conservative).  If you
> > want a counterexample of newspapers that have a political view but
> > minimize the effect on the news pages, you could cite the New York
> > Times (liberal) and the Wall Street Journal.  For a greater contrast
> > (but less obvious pair), you could use the St. Petersburg Times
> > (liberal) and the Washington Times (conservative).
> >
> > On television, I don't think there really is a liberal channel.
> > However, the Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow shows on MSNBC
> > (liberal) would be good matches to the Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly
> > shows on Fox News (conservative).
> >
> > On the radio, Air America is explicitly liberal and could be
> > contrasted to Premiere Radio Networks.
> >
> >
> > John Baker
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Joel S. Berson
> > Sent: Sat 7/11/2009 2:25 PM
> > Subject: Re: Pairing "biased" media
> >
> >
> >
> > Victor's suggestions are useful.  And I must remember the Boston
> > Herald, the newspaper of record in my (and my friend's) metropolitan
> > area, and accessible--at least the day's issue--to her
> > students.  (It's remarkable how few libraries hold copies of the
> > Herald beyond a few days or weeks.)
> >
> > But I'm hoping first of all for bias, apparent or hidden, in
> > "reporting"; I'll turn to "opinion" second.
> >
> > The simplest assignment might be to say "Find the same event reported
> > in the Herald and the Globe, and compare".  Or maybe PM (alas;
> > although there's a new biography of I. F. Stone) and the Daily News.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > At 7/11/2009 01:17 PM, Victor wrote:
> > >Hmmm... Fox vs. CNN is not really a fair comparison of *bias*. CNN may
> > >appear neutral on average, but that does not mean that that they are
> > >uniformly neutral. Lou Dobbs is always a great source of xenophobic
> > >bias, so it's not exactly "opposite" from Fox. The same is true of
> > >NYT--depends on topic and human subject, although columns usually show
> > >bias (see below). For the most part, however, CNN may appear biased (to
> > >the left) only to those who regularly watch Fox News.
> > >
> > >On the other hand, if print sources are desired, Washington Times and
> > >WSJ editorial page are great sources of bias in one direction. Boston
> > >Herald and NYPost columnists are also a good source of bias on the
> > >right. On the other side, most (but not all) columnists in the Boston
> > >Globe. NYT is one of many who try to balance their editorial content.
> > >Once you know who the conservative columnists are (and exclude Maureen
> > >Dowd from consideration), the rest can be used for left-leaning bias.
> > >
> > >Generally, there are several sources that collect "conservative"
> > >columnists. The two largest (and largely overlapping) are
> > >and regurgitation receptacle. I can't really
> > >think of a comparable source on the left. Of course, if you really want
> > >deteriorating prose and constant insults, there are always blogs.
> > >
> > >    VS-)
> > >
> > >Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > >>Also Fox vs. CNN.  Fo also goes out of its way to bash the N.Y. Times
> > >>whenever possible.
> > >>
> > >>You have to be very observant to ascertain that Fox and CNN are
> > reporting on
> > >>the same country.
> > >>
> > >>JL
> > >>
> > >>On Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 9:05 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> > >>
> > >>A friend wants to teach a session on bias in the media in her ESL
> > >>class.  She would like to have pairs (one or more on each side) of
> > >>media outlets (or whatever they're called) that have diametrically
> > >>opposed biases/slants/opinions -- television, newspaper, and magazine
> > >>pairs.  Particularly outlets that let bias creep into their
> > >>reporting, as opposed to those that try to keep opinion separated and
> > >>identified.
> > >>
> > >>For example, Fox News vs. (I think, but I do not watch it) MSNBC.
> > >>
> > >>Suggestions welcomed.
> > >>
> > >>Joel
> > >
> > >------------------------------------------------------------
> > >The American Dialect Society -
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

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