Monday, December 05, 2005

Bias in the media


I found it interesting to see the headlines listed today in regards to the charges against Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas.

Background - DeLay and 2 others have been charged with a few charges related to possibly using money in an election campaign illegally. He has been trying to get the charges dropped. Today, some of the charges were dropped, but others upheld (so he will have to go to trial).

Whether you agree with the charges or not, some charges were dropped and others upheld today, so it is interesting to see how news media report about this. DeLay is one of the leaders of the Republican party, so someone who wants to promote the issues from a right-leaning (conservative) slant would focus on the charges being dropped, and someone who wanted to promote left-leaning (liberal) slant would focus on the charges which were upheld.

The headlines as listed on the websites of major news media:
"Some Charges Dropped, Judge throws out conspiracy counts against DeLay"
"Judge dismisses some, but not all, charges against DeLay"
"DeLay's money laundering charges upheld"

Jusst going by these headlines, you would get a much different impression about what has happened. The first sounds like a wrongfully accused man is getting cleared of charges, while the last make it sound like a bad man is one step closer to being punished.

The first one was published on Fox News' web site. Fox is known as being right- leaning media, and this headline could support that. The headline makes little mention of the charges which are being upheld (which are considered to be the more important charges).

The second was published by CNN. Seems reasonably balanced to me - it talks about both charges.

The last one was found on both the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News web sites. The Chronicle is known as being a left-leaning newspaper, and this headline supports this. The headline doesn't even mention the charges which were thrown out. But I was surprised to find the San Jose Mercury News running the same headline, as I didn't think the Merc was left leaning.

Interesting, the articles used all seemed very close to the same, so probably came from the same news wire service. The main thing that varied was the articles headline.

I checked and the International newspapers (Mainichi Daily in Japan, Straits Times in Singapore, International Herald Tribune, etc.) don't have articles on this right now.


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