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Bias by Omission
Expatica is an overseas publication for US expatriates in Europe with six country-customized editions. It betrays many of the biases that permeate mainstream US journalism. What follows is a prime example of that.
The publication's Germany version today has an article celebrating the 19th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that makes it appear as if it, well, y'know, sorta just serendipitously happened because a bunch of people protested for a while.
Here are the key paragraphs (bolds are mine):
A 44-year old New Jersey man has been arrested in Washington, D.C., for allegedly urinating on people while intoxicated at a Grateful Dead tribute band concert. Talk about embarassment, a Grateful Dead tribute band?! Oh, did I mention the man is a Jersey City Democratic councilman?
The AP ignored Steve Lipski's Democratic party affiliation in a November 9 story about the Friday incident, even though it was bylined from Jersey City and presumably a reporter filing from there could readily discover Lipski's Democratic Party affiliation. After all, the Democratic pol once ran unsuccessfully for Atlantic City mayor.
A November 9 UPI story on Lipski's arrest noted an unidentified source at D.C.'s popular 9:30 Club that Lipski has a rap for drunken, um, revelry:
Well, this is change you can really see.
Yesterday, verbiage at the "Service" Section of Barack Obama's Change.gov site (specifically the URL "http://change.gov/agenda/service/") served as source material for yesterday's post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) entitled "Obama’s 'Service in College' Program at Change.gov Promises $40 an Hour."
The page was entitled "Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan for Universal Voluntary Public Service." It contained "Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan," whose major sections included "Enable All Americans to Serve to Meet the Nation's Challenges," "Integrate Service into Learning," and "Invest in the Nonprofit Sector."
The detail of the second section (saved here at web host yesterday for fair use and discussion purposes) included this requirement (red underlining is mine):
Now the page looks like this (HTs to a couple of NB e-mailers):
Talk about "change." The latest version of president-elect Barack Obama's ever-evolving ideas for "community service" promises to pass out quite a bit of it to America's college students.
The "America Serves" (link is to Google cache) and "Service" sections of Team Obama's Change.gov site have, uh, changed quite a bit over the past day or so after many, including Kerry Picket of Newsbusters, noted that the "service" proposals require youth conscription, i.e., a non-military draft.
As of 8 AM this morning, Team Obama's cleanup operation is nearly complete, with almost all coercive language purged.
But one item noted last night by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs remains in the "Service" section (a copy for future reference is here if/when the existing link changes), with a stunning quantitative modification:
Appearing on MSNBC shortly after 1 p.m. EST with anchor Andrea Mitchell, The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein rebuked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for drawing a legitimate criticism of President-elect Obama's choice of what he described as the "sharp-elbowed" Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as his White House chief-of-staff (see video embedded at right, transcript is below page break).
Mitchell dismissed as "warfare" and Brownstein hit as "reflexive partisanship" Boehner's rather mild statement:
This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.
But it's not just Republican partisans who are noting Emanuel's hard-nosed, partisan politics. As the Reuters news wire noted in a November 5 article, "Emanuel would bring [a] tough edge to White House job":
Taking a dig at outgoing President George W. Bush while lauding President-elect Obama as a man of letters, Associated Press writer Hillel Italie suggested that well-respected writers are welcoming the arrival of a "literary president-elect." Italie suggested that it was admiration of Obama's writing style and intelligence, not his liberal ideology, that pushed authors Toni Morrison, Ayelet Waldman, and novelist Michael Chabon into the Illinois Democrat's cheering section.
Yet Italie left out of his November 6 story how Morrison, Waldman and Chabon are reliable donors to the Democratic Party and left-wing groups and candidates like MoveOn.org and former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.):
Dismissing the notion as "simplistic" that her paper is liberally biased, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote on Sunday that there is "a grain of truth" to the lament from conservatives that the Post skews leftward (emphases mine):
Neither the hard-core right nor left will ever be satisfied by Post coverage -- and that's as it should be. But it's true that The Post, as well as much of the national news media, has written more stories and more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain. Editors have their reasons for this, but conservatives are right that they often don't see their views reflected enough in the news pages.
Aside from bias, Howell confessed another journalist sin on behalf of the Post, arrogance (emphases mine):
Appearing on the Election Day eve edition of "Fox & Friends," MRC's Brent Bozell reacted to the how the media, starting with the San Francisco Chronicle, hit the proverbial snooze button with Sen.
On Friday’s American Morning program, CNN correspondent Carol Costello referred to the liberal organization ACORN as merely "a group committed to registering minority voters," and highlighted how it’s "trying to quiet what it calls ‘hysteria,’ coming from conservative circles" who "charge it’s... guilty of voter fraud." The on-screen graphic accompanying her report, which was the last full segment during the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, exclaimed that "ACORN Fight Back: Says Conservatives Creating ‘Hysteria.’"
Despite playing two clips from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who both criticized ACORN, Costello played three clips from two individuals who sympathized with the organization. The first two clips came from former U.S. attorney David Iglesias, who was one of eight U.S. attorneys who were controversially fired by the Justice Department in 2006. He compared the GOP’s focus on the liberal group to the "Red Scare of the 1950s." During the third clip, Michael Waldman, a former speechwriter for President Clinton who now directs the Brennan Center at NYU’s School of Law, emphasized that "voters should know is that when someone registers under a fake name, that doesn’t mean they can vote under a fake name." Costello identified Waldman as merely as an "elections expert," and repeated his talking point twice at the end of her report.
Give them credit for noticing. Pass out demerits for incompleteness.
Friday's USA Today carried a slightly inaccurate Page 1A tease ("Iraq is safer for US troops; October is on track to tie July for the month with fewest combat deaths"). It went to a top of Page 7A story ("US Deaths in Iraq on track for record low") that noticed how relatively well the month of October has gone for our troops in Iraq. That still is the case, with hours to go in the calendar month in Iraq. Reporter Charles Levinson even noticed that there have been no hostile US troop deaths in Baghdad during the entire month.
But Levinson missed the opportunity to notice even better longer-term results in Iraq. He also failed to notice that coalition troop deaths in Afghanistan, again with hours to go until the end of the month, are less than half of that seen in previous months. Finally, he didn't catch this remarakable fact, given the gloom that seems to abound over the supposedly intractable situation in Afghanistan -- Combined theater troop deaths in October have been the lowest in over four years. (Straight zeroes everywhere would, of course, be ideal.)
Here are the key paragraphs from Levinson's report:
Two days ago I noted the downplayed coverage the Washington Post devoted to a Fairfax County, Va., registrar tossing aside military absentee ballots. Rokey Suleman II, a Democrat who had previously lived in Ohio and unsuccessfully ran for officer there, was alone among Old Dominion registrars in throwing aside military absentee ballots for lack of witness signatures and addresses.
While the mainstream media were not concerned, conservative blogs, RedState chief among them, led the charge to pressure Suleman to back down.
A few moments ago I received an e-mail from RedState Editor Erick Erickson declaring victory, noting that the Fairfax County Board of Elections has overruled Suleman (emphases Erickson's):