Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bias in Reporting on Bush's Address on Iraq

As expected, the first articles immediately after President Bush’s address show bias on the part of CNN and Fox News. Here are four specific examples:

CNN’s opening sentence starts with “Seeking to turn around sagging public support for the war in Iraq ...” So the first phrase starts with a negative tone noting “sagging” public support. While true, it is interesting that CNN chose to start with that whereas Fox started with “On the first anniversary of Iraq's sovereignty …” which emphasizes a major success of the Iraq effort.

CNN had 300 words of direct quotes from the speech while Fox had 493. Fox’s article was longer but even when you look at percentages, Fox still had more space devoted to direct quotes at 35.7% than CNN at 27.1%.

CNN had 306 words (27.7%) devoted to opposing views by Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry [side note: the comments from Pelosi and Kerry are from earlier in the day, before Bush’s speech]. Fox had 152 words (11.0%) in opposing reaction from Bill Dobbs, spokesman United For Peace and Justice and from New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

Both CNN and Fox use their own poll data in their respective articles. Fox used results from a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken earlier this month to say that “Iraq was by far the issue Americans considered the most important for the federal government to address. In the poll, 25 percent cited Iraq and Saddam Hussein as the top issue; the number two issue was the economy with 13 percent listing it as the most important.” Fox adds that “Bush had the approval of 48 percent of Americans while 43 percent disapproved of his job performance.” CNN on the other hand, used a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll to show that just 40 percent of those responding said they approved of Bush's handling of the war; 58 percent said they disapproved -- up 2 percentage points from May.” CNN does note that Bush has a 55% approval for how he is handling terrorism but then adds that “half of Americans do not see the war in Iraq as part of the war on terror that began after September 11, 2001.”

[Note: This comment is being added 4 hours after I made the post above. Please note that the above analysis applies to the immediate articles that both sites published within a short time of the conclusion of the President's address. I just clicked on the links below and, rather than going to the articles I looked at, the links in both cases took me to updates of the articles. Apparently they use the same url even when they update their reports. Tomorrow I'll analyze their latest versions.]

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/06/28/bush.speech/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,160958,00.html

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