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October 1, 2004

Encouraged Misunderstanding

Is it me, or is the following AP headline (i.e., the only part of the story shown on the Providence Journal's homepage) indicative of the media's desire to make Iraq look like a mess so as to bolster Kerry and hurt Bush?

Over 100 Killed in U.S. Assault in Iraq

SAMARRA, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. and Iraqi forces battled their way into the heart of this Sunni stronghold Friday and moved house to house in search of militants in what appeared to be the first major offensive to regain control of areas lost to insurgents before the January elections.

More than 100 guerrillas were killed and 37 captured, according to an Iraqi official. The military said one American soldier was killed and four were wounded.

Maybe I just haven't seen it, but is it customary to make the enemies' death tally into the headline — particularly without specifying that that's what it is?

Posted by Justin Katz at October 1, 2004 5:49 PM
News Media

Not even touching on content, this must be the poorest (design-wise) website I have ever laid eyes on. Turn the light off? Why?!

Posted by: Anon at October 1, 2004 10:15 PM

Well, gee, anon, your feedback is very helpful. Particularly so since you apparently didn't even bother to try the feature that you're criticizing.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 1, 2004 11:14 PM


Visitors like these are ill equipped to touch upon the content. Lofty dismissal is the first reaction of the ignorant, arrogant and dense.

I've noticed that"Anon" seems to visit a lot of "conservative" blogs with this type of complaint. Something about jumping out of Move-On for a moment makes them forget their names.

Also, congratulations. I see that your blog made the Up and Comer List in National Review.

Posted by: Rhod at October 2, 2004 8:39 AM

Thanks for the support and congrats, Rhod. There's something about completely anonymous commenters (meaning those who offer neither name nor real email) that rankles, even as it should do so less. As with those who write and proliferate computer viruses, one can only offer a shake of the head at the destructive and petty strain within our natures. At least in the case of mean commenters, the destruction is primarily of their own psyches.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 2, 2004 9:15 AM

I've noticed that if a headline is either atypically broad or atypically specific it usually makes conservatives look worse than the article does.

Posted by: ELC at October 2, 2004 10:50 AM

Now, now. Anonymous posting on an ideologically opposed page is not solely the purview of the Move On crowd. I've been to many blogs where uninformed, substance-free bashing is left without identification.

That said, the headline is a little misleading, but as soon as I saw it, I took it to mean an enemy tally. It just never entered my mind that we would have lost 100 soldiers in a battle. I don't see it as Left Wing Media Bias. It's more that the ProJo is a poor substitute for a newspaper.

Now, if you can show me a trend in news headlines across the country that Iraq is being painted worse than it is, I would be convinced.

Posted by: Brian Weissman at October 3, 2004 2:10 PM

Brian said:
"Now, if you can show me a trend in news headlines across the country that Iraq is being painted worse than it is, I would be convinced."

Most intelligent people recognize that this will never occur, therefore I can only assume that your mind is closed on this issue.

The actual intent of that headline was to indicate that 100+ non-combatant Iraqi by-standers died during the assualt. It was especially written for people who just skim headlines for ammunition to bash Bush, or those who just skim headlines to pretend that they are informed on issues before going to the polls.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 4, 2004 1:09 PM

Why do "most intelligent people recognize this will never occur"? I am not closed minded. I just like to see evidence before I make up my mind. What I see is a poorly written headline which could be misconstrued if you wanted to misconstrue it.

Besides, if the news is as biased as you claim, then what does it matter whether they read the headline or the article? From your stance, they are getting partisan information anyway.

Where does one go to get the objective, unbiased news?

Posted by: Brian Weissman at October 4, 2004 2:13 PM

Most intelligent people recognize that the news business is about money, or at least the earning of money through the dissemination of world, regional, or local events. It is the nature of humans to be interested in maximizing income from their chosen profession. Newspapers have developed the mindset that sex and violence and tragedy sells. If it is not sex or violence or tragedy, it tends to get overlooked considering the economics of supplying good news as well as the other stuff when they can only print a set number of pages and continue to make money.

Other than that, it is difficult to get news of any sort without a hint of bias, including the circumstance of you personally getting your feet on the ground where the action is happening. If you were in the business of making money through the disemination of world, regional, or local events, how would you write that headline? Would you write it to maximize sales, or would you write it otherwise?

If you will only accept as proof a trend in news headlines across the country (which is what your statement indicates), from an industry that hunts revenue through the myopic lens of sex, violence and tragedy, then you appear to not be interested in truth.

Posted by: smmtheory at October 4, 2004 4:14 PM

"Where does one go to get the objective, unbiased news?"

Well, there technically isn't such a thing, because it's almost impossible to describe things without using value-laden words. But you can got to a variety of places, and you can go to places where their bias is open, so you know how to judge what they say. The problem with the MSM is that they don't openly acknowledge their bias, and pretend that they are reporting 'objectively', when in fact they are so unobjective it's amusing. Try to picture Dan Rather rushing a story that bashed Kerry with as flimsy of evidence as he used in the ANG story. See what I mean, it's pretty funny, isn't it?

Posted by: Mike S. at October 4, 2004 4:15 PM


Thank you for your school-marmish correction of my wild assumptions about "Anon". I'm pleased to know, too, that your blog travels are so extensive and your opinions so balanced, but I don't think Anon's arrival here was from Swiftvets and Kerrylied. I'll have to watch my uncontrolled and excessive resort to hyperbole in the future, nevertheless.

Your pose of enlightened doubt about media bias is unconvincing. Since you're an open minded and observant kind of guy, you'll know that topic selection itself is a form of bias, even in the choice of a study topic in, say, a university. So to suggest that an impossibly dim view of the Iraq war is either objective or coincidental among media types, is sort of silly.

Also, the charge of bias against media outlets that choose to highlight the worst of the conditions in Iraq, is not something that exists apart from all other topic selections. There is a tilt toward the left in most major broadcast outlets, and in several of the well-known broadsheets on subjects other than Iraq. Call it consistency.

It's openly admitted by some within these systems themselves, and reinforced by admitted party affiliations and party support...Dan Rather being a particularly sound example, although he hasn't admitted it.

To your question about where one can find objective reporting, I wouldn't say Fox News or National Review either, but you do find a tilt in both places rather than a lurch.

Posted by: Rhod at October 4, 2004 9:32 PM

what a strory!! cool;)

Posted by: Natasha at May 26, 2005 1:05 AM