Monday, March 2, 2009

Media Bias: A Quick Look

So, I've written about media bias before, but what I'd like to do in this post is take a quick look at the framing of news right now as I'm writing this on the Web sites of the Clinton News Network (CNN) and Faux News (FOX News), arguably the most left-and-right-leaning, so-called mainstream outlets, respectively.

CNN has a story on its front page about Rush Limbaugh, the arrogant, angrier-than-McCain-could-ever-be talking head for the GOP. In the story, Limbaugh is shown in a Hitler-esque photo and quoted for his saying that he hopes the Obama administration fails. Another Republican (Eric Cantor) is quoted saying he disagrees with Rush. (One of the few, I'm sure, so did CNN selectively interview here?) In addition, Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is given the largest amount of quoted material in the story. Now, is CNN lying? No, of course not. But the story is obviously framed from a certain perspective (one that I agree with personally, but I do not necessarily think there is a lack of bias with CNN).

FOX News' front page is completely void of Limbaugh. Instead, featured in the center of their site is a story titled "Obama to Sign Pork-Filled Spending Bill." Though the bill was business that originated from the last administration and does include some unnecessary spending, the story does not seem to recognize the necessary spending that is included in the bill and the time it would take to pass a new bill — a bill that includes some money that is needed to keep our government running. However, CNN's entire Web site seems void of a similar story as this one, which is very interesting. Even the lede in the FOX story has a tone that is full of conservative slant saying that Obama will "break a campaign pledge" by signing the bill (the specific pledge to which the author is referring is not quoted however). FOX also quotes Cantor, and it is almost as though FOX interviewed an entirely different man than CNN did for their story. "...we ought to stand up and draw the line right now..." Cantor is quoted as saying, opposing the signing of a bill that the Congress of which he is a member sent to the president. There is, of course, no mention of under what administration the bill's formulation began or about the government waste in spending during the last eight years that has sent the U.S. into an economic crisis.

Again, people say the don't trust the media, but people need to realize that the media will be called out by bloggers, politicians and others if they lie. So, you can trust your media — you just need to know that they are framing the stories by giving salience to some issues or attributes over others. What is left out? To truly understand issues in the news, you need to be well-versed and take in different news sources. After all, these two stories weren't even present on the opposite outlets' site, so by viewing only one source there is so much about the issues you might never know! Is FOX "Fair and Balanced" as purported? No way! Is CNN especially friendly to conservatives? Not on your life. So watch them both and everything in between... if you can stand it.

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