Friday, December 16, 2005

Patriot Act Fails to Pass

The Patriot Act was rejected by the Senate today. CNN and Fox News ran articles about it. Biases can be seen in their opening sentences with CNN being less friendly to the administration, or conversely, Fox is more friendly towards President Bush. I believe the opening sentences can be important in framing the perspective of the article for the reader.

Here is CNN’s opening sentence which emphasizes a “major blow” to the administration.

CNN: The Senate on Friday rejected efforts to renew expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, dealing a major blow to President Bush and the Republican leadership.

Fox’s opening is much more neutral sounding.

FOX: The Senate on Friday blocked a vote to reauthorize 16 expiring provisions of the controversial USA Patriot Act.

While the “blow” to Bush is implied, it is never explicitly stated by Fox as CNN does.

CNN quotes White House spokesman Scott McClellan at the end of its article while Fox quotes him near the beginning of its article. CNN’s quote (shown below) is in defense of a veto threatened by Bush. Fox, on the other hand, uses quotes (also shown below) that emphasize the administration’s viewpoint and talks of protecting the American people.

CNN: "We've expressed our views how we believe the provisions should be permanent," he [McClellan] said. "And I think what's happening now is that some people are playing politics with this legislation."

FOX: "We are going to continue to do all we can to save lives, that is the president's number one priority," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said immediately after the vote. "The president is going to continue to act to protect the American people ... we will continue to work with members of Congress on those matters."

He added: "This law has helped prevent attacks from happening by breaking up terrorist cells within the United States ... We urge them [senators] to get this done now."

Both treat differently the recent New York Times report of President Bush approving eavesdropping. CNN devotes 24% of its article (by word count) to this issue and makes it a big issue in the Senate vote. Fox’s article was twice as long as CNN’s. Fox only devoted 8% of its article to the issue and made it seem less of an issue.

Links to the articles:,2933,178898,00.html

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