Saturday, May 07, 2005

Biases in Reporting on National Forest Decision

CNN and Fox News had very different articles on the Bush administration moving to open up 58.5 million acres of national forest areas for possible logging, mining, etc. I was surprised at the biases represented in the articles. Here are four examples of word choices that show biases, with Fox being more pro-administration and CNN more from the environmentalist side:

1. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Did President Clinton’s decision “protect” the forests or “limit development?

CNN: … which President Clinton had set aside for protection, …

FOX: … had been put off limits to development by former President Clinton, …

2. Fox makes it sound like the land is merely “remote” while CNN uses the term “untouched” which has a very different connotation.

CNN: The last 58.5 million acres of untouched national forests, …

FOX: … nearly a third of all remote national forest lands …

3. Fox has the area as “roadless” while CNN uses “most pristine.”

CNN: New rules from the U.S. Forest Service cover some of the most pristine federal land in 38 states and Puerto Rico

FOX: Roadless areas in national forests stretch among 38 states and Puerto Rico.

4. CNN says the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “upheld” what Clinton did while Fox says the same thing from a different perspective with the “overturning” of a state injunction.

CNN: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Clinton's rule.

FOX: A federal court in Idaho had issued a preliminary injunction against the roadless rule in 2001, but the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned the injunction based on an appeal by environmental groups.

Incidentally, although Fox does have some opposing views, only CNN includes opposing quotes from two Democrats, Senator Clinton (D-NY) and Rep. Udall (D-CO).

Links to the articles:,2933,155618,00.html

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