Saturday, June 11, 2005

U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq

Both had articles on today’s U.S. airstrikes against insurgents in western Iraq. CNN had more negative news, or at least less positive, than Fox. I was interested in the ratio of coverage of the U.S. attack compared to insurgent coverage. So, I counted the words devoted to coverage of the apparently successful U.S. action and compared that to the news about recent insurgent attacks. Here are the results:

# of words about the U.S. airstrike / # of words about recent insurgent attacks

CNN: 66 / 736

FOX: 215 / 67

Here are a two other differences between the articles. Some might consider these subtle but I believe that if a reader is just looking at one source, over time the subtleties add up and create a biased impression of what is happening.

In the first sentence, CNN says “U.S. Marine airstrikes killed about 40 insurgents Saturday…” Look at how Fox makes the same points with the highlighting showing the addition descriptive information: “U.S. fighter planes equipped with precision-guided missiles launched airstrikes … killing about 40 insurgents who were stopping and searching civilian cars …” While CNN notes that those attacked were armed, they do not explain what they were doing in the town. Fox had also included this information: “[the insurgents] had "set up a barricade on a main road to the city and were threatening Iraqi civilians," the military said.”

Both articles talked of other recent U.S. offenses. Fox said this: “The U.S. military launched two major counterinsurgent offensives in the area last month that killed an estimated 140 militants.” CNN noted it this way: “Last month, U.S. and Iraqi forces were involved in two operations in western Iraq -- Matador and New Market.” CNN does not give the number of militants killed but Fox does. Later, CNN gives the total U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Fox does not.

Links to the articles:,2933,159254,00.html

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