Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The "Downing Street Memo" and the Blogosphere

Fox News ran a story today on a British government memo “that critics say proves the Bush administration manipulated evidence about weapons of mass destruction in order to carry out a plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein.” The memo was first published in the Sunday Times of London on May 1st and is now referred to as the “Downing Street memo.” Fox’s story is about how the memo “has received little attention in the mainstream media, frustrating opponents of the Iraq war.” I did a little searching on some news web sites and found that the coverage was indeed sporadic. Fox had no articles this month while I found the most coverage on CNN with these articles:

White House challenges UK Iraq memo (05.17.2005)
Claims in a recently uncovered British memo that intelligence was "being fixed" to support the Iraq war as early as mid-2002 are "flat out wrong," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday.
'Fixed' facts? (05.16.2005)
A secret memo made public just before this month's elections in Britain, is leading to more pointed questions about the rationale for the Iraq war.
McCain: I don't agree with British war memo (05.15.2005)
Sen. John McCain said Sunday he doesn't "agree with" the secret minutes of a high-level British meeting in 2002 saying "intelligence and facts were being fixed" to support a U.S.-led war in Iraq -- well before the president sought approval on the war from Congress.
Bush asked to explain UK war memo (05.12.2005)
Eighty-nine Democratic members of the U.S. Congress last week sent President George W. Bush a letter asking for explanation of a secret British memo that said "intelligence and facts were being fixed" to support the Iraq war in mid-2002.
Blair, Howard play down Iraq issue (05.01.2005)
Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Conservative opponent Michael Howard tried to move the UK election battleground back onto the domestic agenda Friday after a week of wrangling over Iraq.

Fox ‘s article had information from both pro and anti-Bush perspectives and a link to the memo. But, they had additional information about coverage of the story and the role that blogs are playing. Here are some excerpts from the article:

The memo, which received sporadic reporting in major newspapers in the United States throughout May, has sparked an outcry from more than 88 Democratic members of Congress who have signed two letters to President Bush demanding a response. …

Conyers [D-Mich] says the mainstream media have ignored the story and let President Bush off the hook. He noted that liberal blogs and alternative media have been keeping the story alive. "But these voices are too few and too diffuse to overcome the blatant biases of our cable channels and the negligence and neglect of our major newspapers," Conyers said in a recent statement. …

But not everyone believes the Downing Street Memo represents a "smoking gun" and deserves more attention. "As a smoking gun it leaves a lot to be desired," said Kevin Aylward, a northern Virginia-based technology consultant who runs the conservative-leaning blog, Wizbangblog.com. "It's interesting, but it's probably fourth- or fifth-hand information."

Aylward added: "I suspect the more interesting story at this point, seeing it three weeks later, is who is behind the letter-writing campaign to push it in the media."

Several popular left-leaning blogs have taken up the cause to keep the story alive, encouraging readers to contact media outlets. A Web site, DowningStreetMemo.com, tells readers to contact the White House directly with complaints.

"This is a test of the left-wing blogosphere," said Jim Pinkerton, syndicated columnist and regular contributor to FOX News Watch, who pointed out that The Sunday Times article came out just before the British election and apparently had little effect on voters' decisions.

"In many ways that memo might prove all of the arguments the critics of the war have made," he added. "But the bulk of Americans don't agree, or don't seem that alarmed, so it is a power test to see if they can drive it back on the agenda."

Link to Fox’s article:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,158228,00.html

Monday, May 30, 2005

Vice President Cheney and Amnesty International

Both ran articles about Vice President Cheney’s comments on “Larry King Live” concerning the Amnesty International report the was very critical of the U.S.’s treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. CNN’s article devoted 53% of its space (by word count) to direct or indirect quotes by Cheney. Fox had 43.5%. Those numbers are at least in the same ballpark compared to the amount of space each gave to Amnesty International’s viewpoint: CNN had 36% to Fox’s 9%. Was CNN overdoing it against the administration by including already reported information from Amnesty International? Why did Fox not include Amnesty International’s reaction to Cheney’s comments?

Both articles include this quote by Cheney: “But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released ... to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated.” Fox adds this comment (not from Cheney) that CNN does not include: “Some of the scores of prisoners who have been released from Guantanamo have said they were mistreated, while others have said they were not.”

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/30/cheney.amnestyintl/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,158089,00.html

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fox and the Democrats' Weekly Radio Address -- Again

Yet again Fox News is failing to run an article about the weekly Democratic Radio Address (or running it a day or more late) while promptly running an article or the transcript of the President’s weekly radio address. I have noted this in several previous posts. Here is a link to CNN’s article:

Clark urges expanding reservist health care (05.28.2005)
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark used the Democrats' radio broadcast Saturday to insist that Reserve and National Guard members and their families should receive the same health insurance as the active force does.

[Note added May 30th. The case of the missing Democratic Weekly Radio Address: I noticed today that both Fox and CNN on Sunday ran the same short AP story on President’s Bush’s weekly radio address (Fox had previously published the transcript). Both articles were identical with the exception that Fox added seven sentences about General (retired) Clark’s remarks. So, although there was some coverage by Fox; it was late, buried, and brief.]

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Time Out: Nuclear Threat Initiative – Last Best Chance

Concerned about the potential for nuclear terrorism? Read on.

Peter Daou of the “Daou Report” at Salon.com has asked for help in spreading the word about the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). I have checked it out and it seems worthwhile to pass on.

Here are some words straight from Peter:

The Nuclear Threat Initiative is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on immediate actions to address high-risk situations involving nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. NTI is co-chaired by CNN founder Ted Turner and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Warren Buffett serves as Advisor to the Board of Directors.
To illustrate the threat, NTI has put together Last Best Chance, a docudrama that depicts the danger posed by vulnerable nuclear weapons: http://www.lastbestchance.org
ABC's Nightline recently featured the project, and Meet the Press will cover it this Sunday, May 29th. Guests will include former Senator and Last Best Chance star Fred Thompson, former Senator Sam Nunn, Senator Richard Lugar, 9/11 Commission Chair Tom Kean and Vice Chair Lee Hamilton. …
I encourage you to let your readers know that they can sign up for a free copy of the film at this site: http://actnow.saferworld.org/video/

****************

By the way, if you have not seen the Daou Report yet, I highly recommend it. Peter provides brief summaries and links and to the latest left and right-leaning blog posts as well as news sites and blogs on the media (this blog has posts that are frequently linked there). It is a very balanced scan of political blogs. It is part of Salon.com and here is the link (you can subscribe or get a day pass for free after watching a short ad) link: http://daoureport.salon.com/

Biased Reporting of President Bush at the Naval Academy

President Bush spoke at the Naval Academy graduation but CNN and Fox News each had very different reports. It makes me wonder if they were reporting the same event. CNN focused on Bush’s comments about base closures while FOX emphasized Bush’s policies. It is only at the end of the article that CNN makes this comment directly regarding our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan without reference to base closures:

CNN: Bush offered thanks for the many he addressed on the same field four years ago -- people who now are serving in difficult military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. He recounted the brave deeds of several by name, and one whose name he said he could not reveal.
"Americans are grateful to have such brave defenders," Bush said. "They are serving our nation with valor and distinction and soon you'll join them."
"You will make America proud," he added.

Contrast the above with Fox’s opening statements:

FOX: The U.S. military is on the offensive in the War on Terror to prevent terrorists from reaching America's shores, President Bush said Friday, adding that 20 years from now, historians will look back on the Iraq war as "America's golden moment."
"We are taking the fight to the enemy abroad so we do not have to face them here at home," Bush said in addressing the 2005 U.S. Naval Academy graduates.
Although what he called "difficult and dangerous work remains" in Iraq, Bush said he wanted to get U.S. troops home as soon as Iraqis could take control of their own country.
"Iraqis are determined and our strategy is clear — we will train Iraqi forces so they can take the fight to their enemy and defend their country. Then our troops can come home with the honor they have earned," Bush said.

After Fox’s opening as noted above, the article does add something on base closures by saying, “The president also addressed the controversial issue of military base closures, saying some closures are necessary in an effort to help transform America's military.” CNN’s article reports that base closures were the main theme of the President’s speech. Fox’s article notes the same base closure information but the main theme is our efforts in the War on Terror. Is CNN purposely making their main point a controversial one? Is Fox purposely supporting and emphasizing the President’s position on the War on Terror? Makes me want to read a transcript of the speech to judge for myself.

Links:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/27/bush.ap/index.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157853,00.html

Friday, May 27, 2005

Different Choices in Reporting on the American Psychiatric Association Conference

CNN and Fox News, so far, have each run one article from the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. I could not help but notice the contrast:


CNN:

Psychiatrics want recognition of gay marriage (05.23.2005)
Representatives of the nation's top psychiatric group approved a statement Sunday urging legal recognition of gay marriage.

FOX:

Sprituality May Improve Mental Health - Friday, May 27, 2005 - Going to church is good for your mental health....

Hillary/Rosen and Rice/Bolton

Oftentimes, CNN and Fox News run the same AP articles. They have choices though as to headlines and photos to include with the article. Here are two examples where the choices made are different and I would suggest they are different due to biases. These two examples are somewhat subtle but I wonder about the readers of just CNN or just Fox and the perceptions they have as they are exposed to those biases over time.

Example #1. This is the story of Hillary Clinton’s former aide, David Rosen, being acquitted of fundraising charges. CNN’s headline is “Former Hillary Clinton aide acquitted.” Fox News’ headline is “Clinton Finance Director Acquitted of Fundraising Charges.” Fox does not say “former” so perhaps Fox is trying to make a stronger tie to Clinton. This seems to be the case with Fox’s photos which includes pictures of a somber Hillary Clinton. Fox also adds “fundraising charges” to the headline. CNN has one photo and it is of a smiling Rosen. Fox also includes a picture of Rosen but it is of him entering the court building with a lawyer.

Links:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/05/27/clinton.fundraiser.ap/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157924,00.html

Example #2. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Senate to confirm John Bolton. Fox News’ headline is “Rice: Senate Should Confirm Bolton.” CNN adds a negative phrase to its headline of “Rice: Bolton deserves confirmation despite 'rough edges'.” CNN has one close up photo of an expressionless, close-mouthed Rice. Fox’s picture of Rice has her speaking at a podium where she is more animated. Fox also adds a photo of Bolton.

Links:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/27/rice.ap/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157970,00.html

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Very Different Versions of a Report of Quran Abuse Allegations

The ACLU released FBI documents containing allegations of Quran abuse by Guantanamo Bay guards [side note: CNN uses the spelling “Quran” while Fox uses “Koran.” For the sake of argument I will use “Quran.”]. There are incredible differences in the articles by CNN and Fox. Here are four differences of note:

1. The Headlines. CNN highlights the allegations while Fox highlights the government position. CNN’s headline says, “FBI records: Detainees allege Quran abuse.” Fox is very different with “Gov't: Still No Credible Claims of Koran Flushing.”

2. The Opening Sentences. These are very similar to the approach taken in the headlines:

CNN: Detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleged in 2002 that guards mistreated the Quran, according to some of the hundreds of FBI documents released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

FOX: Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Wednesday there are no credible allegations that U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay threw a Koran down the toilet — despite allegations contained in newly released FBI documents.

3. The Pictures. CNN has one picture and it is of a detainee sitting on the floor as seen through the bars. Fox has two pictures; both are of protestors of the information published in the now-retracted article by Newsweek. Perhaps CNN is projecting more sympathy for the detainees while Fox is perhaps raising the issue of the Newsweek article and aftermath which, as CNN notes, the Bush administration blamed for the violence.

4. The Quotes. The ACLU obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act. CNN has 138 words of direct quotes or paraphrasing attributed to the ACLU or its Executive Director Anthony Romero. Fox had 121 words which is similar in length to CNN but the direct quotes are at the very end of the article. The ACLU is mentioned by Fox for the first time near the end of the article whereas CNN has the ACLU in its headline.

Fox has 306 words of direct quotes or paraphrasing attributed to the Pentagon or spokesman Lawrence Di Rita while CNN has only 144.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/25/gitmo.quran/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157679,00.html

Amnesty International Report Slams U.S.

Amnesty International slammed the U.S. in a report today. Fox News ran an AP story and CNN ran two articles, one from Reuters and one of their own. Both of CNN’s taken together are about the same length as Fox’s AP story. You have to read both CNN articles to get a more complete picture as the Reuters article does not present any Bush administration reaction. The White House said the report is “ridiculous and unsupported by the facts.” CNN’s article did however quote the White House, State Department and Defense Department. Fox’s article quoted the White House and Defense Department.

There were a couple of interesting differences between CNN and Fox. CNN’s Reuters article makes a point not found in Fox’s article. While Fox notes that Amnesty “castigated” the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, the Reuters’ article reports on a broader problem shown by the first sentence (and other information later):

CNN (Reuters): Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The Amnesty International Report talked of other problem areas. For CNN, their article only addressed U.S. problems. Their Reuters article notes problems in many other areas of the world as did Fox’s article. The Reuters article ties some problems in other areas to the War on Terror. It also makes a statement about Sudan that has a different perspective than Fox. The Reuters article talks only of the international community’s failure while Fox notes that the Sudan government failed as well. Here are the excerpts on Sudan:

CNN (Reuters): … the abject failure of the international community to take concerted action to end the slaughter in Sudan's vast Darfur region was a cause of shame.

FOX (AP): Amnesty accused governments around the world of abandoning human rights protections. It said Sudan failed to protect its people from one of the world's worst humanitarian crises …

Sudan's government not only turned its back on its people, but the United Nations and African Union took too long to try to help those suffering in Darfur, Amnesty said.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/05/25/amnesty.report.reut/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/25/america.accused/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157596,00.html

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

House Passes Stem Cell Research Bills

Sorry about a long post today. Both CNN and Fox covered news on two stem cell bills that were passed by the House. The controversial bill, opposed by President Bush, involves federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. A second bill about using stem cells from adults and umbilical cord blood passed with only one opposing vote. Both articles gave pros and cons of the issues. However, there are two major differences in coverage: (1) information from the embryonic cell bill, and (2) information on stem cells not from embryos but rather from adults and umbilical cord blood. CNN has much more information on the former and Fox much more on the latter. A reader of just CNN or just Fox News will not have the full information.

Embryonic Cells. Fox has little information about some of the arguments in favor of the controversial bill. CNN, on the other hand has this information:

But supporters point out that there are embryos in fertility clinics that would never be used to create babies, but could be used for research purposes.

Rep. Mike Castle, who introduced the bill, said it "draws a strict ethical line by only allowing federally funded research on stem cell lines that were derived ethically from donated embryos determined to be in excess."

"Under no circumstances," the Delaware Republican said in a written statement last week, "does this legislation allow for the creation of embryos for research, nor does it fund the destruction of embryos."

Under the bill, couples who have undergone fertility treatments and have embryos they won't use can then make the choice of putting them up for adoption, giving them directly to another couple, storing them, discarding them or donating them to science, co-sponsor Rep. Diana DeGette said during debate Tuesday.

"The only federal funds used under the Castle-DeGette bill are federal funds to then develop those embryonic stem cell lines" donated to science, the Colorado Democrat said. "We're allowing more of those lines." …

But supporters of the bill say only about 10 percent of excess embryos are adopted; the rest are discarded.

In a news conference Monday, Castle said that under the bill, "if the donors of that particular embryo, the creators of the embryo, the doctor, the in vitro fertilization clinic all sign off on the fact that this embryo is going to be disposed of and then sign off on the fact that it can be used for research, and no money exchanges hands ... then it could be used for research."

Non-embryonic Cells (from adults and umbilical cord blood). The bill on non-embryonic stem cell research is less controversial and is supported by Bush because it does not involve embryos. CNN says very little about non-embryo stem cell research. The information on that is limited to this excerpt: “… opponents of the embryonic stem cell legislation pointed out repeatedly that while adult stem cells have been proven to cure and treat patients, embryonic stem cells have not.” Fox, on the other hand, devotes much more of its article to non-embryo stem cells. Here are the excerpts:

"There are alternatives to destroying embryos" like using umbilical cord blood for research, Claude Allen, a White House advisor on domestic policy, told FOX News on Tuesday. "So we do not need to destroy human life in order to protect human life."

The Bush administration on Tuesday released a statement in support of the Smith-Davis bill, saying umbilical cord-blood stem cells, collected from the placenta and umbilical cord after birth without doing harm to mother or child, have been used in the treatment of thousands of patients suffering from more than 60 different diseases, including leukemia, Fanconi anemia, sickle cell disease and thalassemia. Researchers also believe cord-blood stem cells may be useful in the exploration of stem cell therapies for regenerative medicine, reads the statement from the Office of Management and Budget. …

"As you consider the funding options for stem cell research, please remember me," Keone Penn, 18, said at a Capitol Hill news conference. He said he had been stricken with childhood sickle cell anemia and cured after a transplant from umbilical cord blood.

Penn, of Atlanta, said sickle cell anemia caused a stroke when he was 5 years old. Treatment for the disease was so painful that he said he contemplated suicide four years later. Doctors predicted he would not live to adulthood, but because of the transplant, he turns 19 in two weeks.

"If it wasn't for cord blood, I'd probably be dead by now," he said.

Blood saved from newborns' umbilical cords is rich in a type of stem cells that produce blood, the same kind that make up bone-marrow transplants. The Institute of Medicine recently estimated that cord blood could help treat about 11,700 Americans a year with leukemia and other devastating diseases, yet most is routinely discarded.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/24/stem.cells/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157524,00.html

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Different Perspectives on Pres. Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” and also appeared on Fox News’ “Weekend Live.” Both web sites discussed Karzai’s remarks. The articles are significantly different based on what I see as bias either way with Fox being more favorable to President Bush and CNN being harsher on the administration. Consider these five points:

1. Each article opens from different perspectives. CNN, in its first sentence, says that Karzai “demanded justice Sunday from the United States over the alleged abuse of two Afghan detainees who reportedly died in U.S. custody.” Fox, on the other hand opens with the fact that Karzai “will meet with President Bush on Monday, at which time he plans to ask for stronger coordination between U.S. troops and the Afghan government and to demand punishment for U.S. soldiers accused of abuse at U.S. detention facilities.” While Fox notes that Karzai wants justice, it opens with a positive comment. In fact the very first phrase is “Looking to strengthen U.S.-Afghanistan relations …”

2. CNN uses the same four pictures noted in my previous post. One is of Karzai and the other three are of protesters. Fox uses two pictures, both of Karzai in positive situations – receiving an honorary degree and being welcomed at the airport.

3. Here is a contrast in how poppy eradication is covered by both:

CNN: Karzai also angrily defended his presidency against a charge published in Sunday's Times that a poppy eradication program in Afghanistan is failing because "has been unwilling to assert strong leadership."

The charge came from a memo sent from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Times said, and was leaked to the paper by "an American official alarmed at the slow pace of poppy eradication."

"We have done our job," Karzai said.

"The Afghan people have done their job. Now the international community must come and provide alternative revenue to the Afghan people which they have not done so far," Karzai said.


FOX: The Afghan president agreed that his country's future well-being will also in part rely on eradicating the poppy crops that are used to make opium. Last year, more than a half million acres of land were dedicated to growing poppies, producing about 5,000 metric tons of opium. Afghanistan is the biggest poppy-producing nation in the world.

Karzai said a U.N. document recently released on Afghanistan's poppy cultivation shows a decrease in most provinces where the flower is grown and his nation continues its eradication program.

"Let's hope that we will build on that and that eventually in five to six years we will completely eradicate poppies," he said, adding that to be successful, the international community must help present options for alternative revenues for Afghan farmers.

4. Here is another contrast in how Karzai is described by some as a possible U.S. puppet:

CNN: Karzai, a former U.S. oil company executive seen by many in his own country as a U.S. puppet, came to the United States 10 days after at least 15 people were killed in anti-U.S. protests in his country.

FOX: When asked how he walks the line between embracing the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan without alienating citizens who consider him a puppet of the U.S. government, Karzai responded that people in his country know that following democratic ambitions is the only road to success.

"No Afghan is a puppet, you know. Afghans are very independent people. They understand. The Afghan people, perhaps, are among the most freedom lovers of all the people in the world, but for the Afghan people, the relationship with the United States is in a necessarily different context — in the context of the future stability of Afghanistan, the future well-being of the Afghan people and the prevention of intervention from outside into Afghanistan," he said.

5. Readers of only one article would have a different perception of how well things are going or not going in Afghanistan as noted by the examples above. Here are a few other excerpts:

CNN: His [Karzai] comments came on the same day that the United Nations condemned the alleged abuse as "utterly unacceptable." {Fox does not mention that U.N. report.}

FOX: Expressing gratitude for U.S. efforts to rid the nation of Taliban radicals and increase security across the long-ravaged country, Karzai said he wants Afghan prisoners to be returned to Afghan prisons from U.S. detention centers and greater consultation before military operations take place on the ground in Afghanistan. {CNN never mentions any gratitude expressed by Karzai.}

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/22/afghanistan.us/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157297,00.html

Afghan Pres. Karzai Reacts to Abuse Allegations

CNN ran a Reuters story and Fox News ran an AP story on Afghan President Karzai’s reaction to a report of U.S. abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, just prior to his first trip to the U.S. as the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. There are four photos or images with each article. Fox has a map of Afghanistan and three different photos of Karzai. CNN has one photo of Karzai and three photos of protesters during the recent reaction to the now-retracted Newsweek story. I could not help but notice the contrast between the two photos shown below. CNN has a picture of protesters burning a U.S. flag compared with Fox’s picture of Karzai watching the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps at Logan Airport in Boston. Incidentally, the flag burning photo for CNN is from Pakistan, not Afghanistan. The connection would be that the protests were occurring at the same time as those in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan is not mentioned in the article.


CNN's caption to this AP photo: Protesters burn a U.S. flag Sunday in Peshawar, Pakistan.


Fox's caption to this AP photo: May 21: Afghan President Hamid Karzai watches as the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps passes following his arrival at Logan Airport in Boston.
Posted by Hello

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/21/afghanistan.abuse.reut/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157263,00.html

Where is Fox's article on the Democrats' Weekly Radio Address?

Yet again Fox News is failing to run an article about the weekly Democratic Radio Address (or running it a day or more late) while promptly running an article or the transcript of the President’s weekly radio address. I have noted this in previous posts. Here is a link to CNN’s article of the Rep. Meek (D-FL) radio address:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/21/democrats.radio.ap/index.html

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Pres. Bush at Calvin College

President Bush spoke at the graduation of Calvin College. Unexpectedly, CNN had more quotes of Bush than did Fox. Fox had more information on those who protested his visit. Concerning actual reaction at the speech, CNN noted that:

CNN: About 20 percent of graduates and some faculty members wore buttons and stickers saying, "God is not a Democrat or a Republican" in a silent protest. Some also wore armbands.

Fox, however, presents a slightly different picture by saying that a “few” graduates wore stickers where CNN had said 20%.

FOX: Several dozen people protesting outside the event and a few graduates at the ceremony wore stickers that said: "God is not a Republican or Democrat."

Also, I noticed that CNN talks about some not standing to applaud at the end whereas Fox notes that Bush was warmly cheered before he spoke.

CNN: A handful did not stand up to applaud when Bush was introduced.

FOX: The students cheered him warmly before he spoke, but Bush's visit was not welcomed by all.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/21/bush.commencement/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157262,00.html

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Laura Bush: Prior to Her Mideast Trip

Both CNN and Fox News ran stories about Laura Bush as she prepares to make a visit to the Middle East without her husband. As might be expected there were some biases in what each chose to write. CNN ran an “On the Scene” article which was a transcript of CNN anchor Judy Woodruff talking with their White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux. Fox ran an article headlined, “Laura Bush 'Glad' Newsweek Retracted Story.” With regard to Newsweek’s retraction of their story about desecration of the Quran [note: CNN uses “Quran,” Fox uses “Koran”] and the potential impact on the visit, there are dramatic differences with CNN emphasizing anti-American sentiment compared with Fox’s positive statements by Laura Bush. Fox says that the Newsweek article “spurred violent riots” while CNN lists the Newsweek story with Abu Ghraib as affecting the perception of the U.S.

CNN (quoting Malveaux): There are a lot of problems with perception, U.S. perception ... [detainee abuse at] Abu Ghraib [prison in Iraq], as well as the Newsweek scandal, of course. The riots that occurred in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan -- a place where she's visited several times. There's also a report that came out today [from] the Council on Foreign Relations that talked about the increase in anti-Americanism in the region.

FOX: The story, published and then later retracted by Newsweek, spurred violent riots in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
"Well, I am glad that they retracted it, but I think it's really important for America to be able to get over to people in the Middle East what we are really like, and that freedom of religion and respect for other people's religion is a very, very important part of our country, in the history of our country," Bush said in her first public comments on the story.

Fox’s article has many positive quotes from the President’s wife. CNN’s Malveaux throws in some zingers like: “She is going to promote the agenda of her husband. You know, her husband is not very popular among some of the regions [where] she's going to be traveling.” Also, “It is [hoped] that her message, perhaps, will be received a little bit better than her husband.”

Fox also ran a transcript of an interview with Laura Bush. A search of CNN’s site showed no other articles on this subject. Incidentally, Fox had two photos of Laura Bush with its article while CNN had only a photo of Malveaux.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/19/otsc.malveaux/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157113,00.html

Women in Combat

CNN and Fox News both ran AP stories on a House bill for the Defense Department which includes policy on women in combat. As I have noted in other examples in other posts, the AP articles are similar but there are differences I attribute to biases. These articles are about 90% identical but there are some interesting differences. CNN’s headline and first sentence are worded to be more negative towards the Republican sponsored bill. Conversely, you can also say that Fox’s opening is worded to be more positive towards this part of the bill. Here are the headlines for each:

CNN: Bill aims to bar women from direct ground combat

FOX: House Panel Backs Limiting Women in Combat Roles

CNN says the bill is trying to “bar” women from the combat role while Fox is a little softer with the panel just “limiting” the roles. This is similar to their opening sentences as illustrated below. CNN says women would be barred, Fox says approval is needed first.

CNN: Women in the military would be barred from serving in direct ground combat roles, under a House bill …

FOX: The military would need congressional approval before putting women in new direct combat roles under a bill …

Again, much of the articles were identical. However I did notice in one place that Fox had a couple of extra sentences not in CNN’s version of this part of the article. The quote below is from the Fox article and highlights, in pink, the information that was not in CNN's. Did CNN take that out? Did Fox add in this information that is favorable to the Republican view? Or, was it simply different versions of the same article pulled off of AP at different times?

"We're not taking away a single prerogative that the services now have," McHugh [Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment] said.

He said the provision would not cause any jobs to be closed today that are open to women and he said it wouldn't yank women out of roles in which they currently are serving. He said it simply requires more oversight of the role of women in the military.

Democrats opposed the amendment, saying it would tie the hands of commanders who need flexibility during wartime. They accused Republicans of rushing through legislation without knowing the consequences or getting input from the military, and tried unsuccessfully to pass their own amendments to kill McHugh's provision.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/19/women.combat.ap/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157051,00.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

John Bolton Update

Both CNN and Fox News ran articles today about a Democratic report supporting their position that Bolton is the wrong person for the U.N. post. Both articles have plenty to say about the content of the report. I examined both articles to see what is included from the Bush administration’s viewpoint. CNN had what I would think is considerably less information favorable to Bolton. The table below shows the comments that were more from the administration's point of view. On the other hand, there is some key information against Bolton that is not found in Fox’s article. That information can be found below the table.

CNN

Fox

The Republicans on the committee issued their own eight-page brief that according to The New York Times calls him "a highly qualified nominee" and disputes the Democrats' assessment. …

The White House says Bolton, a longtime U.N. critic, is needed to promote reform within the world body. It has called allegations that he tried to get intelligence analysts who disagreed with him fired or reassigned "unsubstantiated."

The document is attached to a short summary of Bolton's qualifications and an account of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's lengthy investigation prepared by the committee's Republican chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana.

The committee investigated allegations about Bolton's conduct and temperament for weeks before sending his name to the full Senate for debate without the customary recommendation of approval.

"The end result of all this is that Secretary Bolton emerged looking better than when it began," Lugar wrote to the inquiry.

"There was no evidence to support the most serious charge, that Secretary Bolton sought to manipulate intelligence," Lugar said. "He may have disagreed with intelligence findings but in the end, he always accepted the final judgment of the intelligence community."

At the State Department, spokesman Tom Casey said the report revealed nothing new.

"The committee's already reviewed this issue extensively," Casey said. "This is a minority interpretation of events and we completely reject it."

CNN included the following negative information about Bolton that is not found in Fox’s article, or at least is not laid out as plainly as CNN has it:

The Democratic document accuses Bolton, who is undersecretary of state for arms control, of "four distinct patters of conduct" the minority party says disqualify him for the post.

It says that Bolton regularly tried to stretch intelligence to fit his views.

It says he exhibited abusive behavior and intolerance for alternative views, repeatedly trying to fire intelligence analysts who disagreed with him.

It accuses him of making "misleading, disingenuous or non-responsive statements" to the Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/18/senate.bolton/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156978,00.html

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Iran and Iraq

Articles today at CNN.com and FoxNews.com were similar concerning Iran’s foreign minister making a historic trip to Iraq. I did, however, notice the different ways in which each talked about recent relations between Iran and Iraq. The examples below are somewhat subtle but indicative of biases, even if honest biases. In the yellow highlighted phrases, CNN notes that the two countries fought a war. Fox’s wording indicates that it was a Saddam-led war. Fox’s wording is a little friendlier towards the Bush administration by reinforcing Saddam’s evilness. The green highlight shows CNN mentioning Saddam’s regime being toppled while Fox gives credit to the U.S. in sweeping Saddam from power. The blue highlight shows Fox stating that the new Iraqi government is working to build ties with Iran while CNN mentions the critics’ view.

CNN: Iran and Iraq fought a long war that killed at least a million people during the 1980s. During Saddam's regime, many Shiites fled to Iran, home at the time to the only Shiite-dominated government in the region. And since the toppling of Saddam's regime, Iraq government officials have accused Iran and Syria of allowing foreign fighters into Iraq.

The January 30 democratic elections in Iraq created a government dominated by Shiite Arabs and Kurds. Some critics say those politicians are serving as puppets for Iran.

FOX: Ties between neighboring Iraq and Iran improved after the ouster of Saddam, who led an eight-year war against Iran during the 1980s in which more than 1 million people died. Relations remained cool after that war, with Iran supporting anti-Saddam groups and the former Iraqi leader hosting the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian militia that fought the Shiite religious regime in Tehran.

But since the U.S.-led invasion swept Saddam from power, Iraq's majority Shiite Muslim community has risen to power and worked to build close ties with Iran.

Iran, however, has been accused of supporting insurgents in Iraq to destabilize reconstruction efforts by the United States, which regards Tehran as a terror sponsor bent on producing nuclear weapons. Iran denies both claims.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/17/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156753,00.html

Oil-for-food Scandal: Galloway's Denial

Both CNN and Fox News ran articles on British Parliament member George Galloway’s denial of allegations by a Senate panel on his involvement in the oil-for-food scandal. I have noted recently that Fox has had a lot of coverage of the U.N.’s oil-for-food scandal compared to very little coverage by CNN (Coverage, or lack thereof, on U.N. Oil-for-Food Scandal). But CNN did cover this denial by Galloway who, in CNN’s words, “is a leading critic of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his alliance with President Bush in the war in Iraq.” The stories are about his angry denial so it makes sense that most of both articles are from his point of view. There is a difference though in the amount of space given by CNN and Fox to Galloway’s perspective compared to the Senate panel’s perspective. When counting the words of sentences containing Galloway’s quotes or paraphrases compared to the total words devoted to this specific story (both articles also included information about others who are alleged to be involved), CNN gives more space to Galloway. CNN had 658 words of a total of 811 words, or 81.1%. Fox had 360 words from Galloway’s perspective out of a total of 558 words, or 64.5%.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/17/oil.food/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156803,00.html

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Fox and the Democrats' Weekly Radio Address

As I have noted before, Fox News publishes an article or transcript promptly each Saturday on the President Bush’s weekly radio address. However, the Democrats’ weekly radio address is either not covered or an article shows up 24 hours later. That is the case this weekend where about 24 hours after the fact, there is still no coverage of Governor Richardson’s (D-NM) radio address. Here is the link to CNN’s article:

Democrats: States, not D.C., helping Americans (05.14.2005)
States, not the Republican-controlled Congress, are leading the way in resolving problems confronting Americans, New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson said Saturday.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Iraq War: Operation Matador and Distinctly Different Coverage

The difference in recent coverage of the war in Iraq is remarkable as I have noted in previous posts. Today, CNN and Fox News had articles about the end of Operation Matador in western Iraq. Readers of only CNN will have a much bleaker view of the war than those who read Fox News only. Here are four examples from these articles:

(1) CNN’s headline merely mentions the end of the operation with a sub-headline that notes the total deaths: “Hunt for insurgents near Syria ends; More than 125 insurgents, nine Marines dead.” Fox’s headline for their AP article declares a successful operation: “U.S.: Operation Matador in Iraq a Success.” [Note: A few minutes after posting this I noticed that CNN does have a healdine link on their home page calling the operation a success.]

(2) CNN’s first sentence includes this statement: “Marines said Saturday they "successfully completed Operation Matador," a weeklong hunt for insurgents…” Fox’s opening sentence more directly speaks to the accomplishment of the operation’s objectives: “The U.S. military wrapped up a major offensive in a remote desert region near the Syrian border Saturday, saying it had cleaned out the insurgent haven and killed more than 125 militants …” Fox also uses the term “militants” as opposed to CNN’s “insurgents.”

(3) CNN provides the facts of the story and quotes from the military. Fox does as well but paints more of a picture of the event with this statement:

FOX (highlight added): “American troops, backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, swept through desert outposts along ancient smuggling routes, believed to be staging areas for foreign fighters who slip over the border and collect weapons to launch deadly attacks in Iraq's major cities.”

CNN provides the same information but in less dramatic fashion, using a military quote:

CNN: “"The region, an historical smuggling route and known insurgent hiding place, is used as a staging area where insurgents receive weapons and equipment and organize for attacks against the key cities of Ramadi, Falluja, Baghdad and Mosul," the U.S. military said in a written statement.”

(4) In the two statements that follow, each is stating the same basic facts. But, it is interesting to note the words that they use. Again, we see that CNN uses “insurgent” while Fox uses “militant” (see yellow highlight below). Fox’s word more strongly identifies the opponents as military enemies. Both note the Iraqi government change as a time when the insurgent attacks increased but look closely at the words each chose to use. CNN emphasizes that it is a Shiite and Kurdish dominated government which has caused conflict from the Sunnis; Fox emphasizes Iraq’s first democratic election (see blue highlight below).

CNN: The offensive was launched May 7 to counter the escalation in insurgent attacks throughout Iraq. The rise in violence coincided with the period in which the Shiite and Kurdish-dominated transitional government took power. The insurgency is regarded as largely comprised of Sunni Arabs as well as foreigners.

FOX: The U.S. assault came amid a surge of militant attacks that have killed more than 450 people in just over two weeks since Iraq's first democratically elected government was announced.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/14/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156543,00.html

Radically Different U.N. Stories from Iraq

Interesting choices were made on Thursday this week concerning coverage of United Nations’ reports involving Iraq. CNN and Fox News both chose radically different stories about Iraq. CNN chose a story about how terrible life is in Iraq based on a survey by the Iraqi government and the U.N. Fox, on the other hand chose a story from the U.N.’s International Narcotics Control Board about how drug trafficking is on the rise in Iraq and that insurgents and terrorists are involved.

CNN: Report paints grim picture of Iraqi life (05.12.2005)
In the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country still struggles with high unemployment, inconsistent utility services and widespread poverty, a joint survey from the Iraqi government and United Nations indicates.

FOX: U.N.: Iraq an Emerging Drug Trafficker - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - VIENNA, Austria — A U.N. drug body warned Thursday that Iraq is emerging as a transit point for drugs, with traffickers working with...

Coverage, or lack thereof, on U.N. Oil-for-Food Scandal

This is the third weekend in a row where I have noticed that Fox continues to do a lot of reporting on the U.N.’s oil-for-food scandal with little or no reporting by CNN. CNN did have an article this week on accusations of involvement in the scandal by a British and a French politician. Here are links to my previous two weekend posts that document a combined 20 articles by Fox to none for CNN.

http://cnnvsfox.blogspot.com/2005/05/oil-for-food-scandal-update-on.html

http://cnnvsfox.blogspot.com/2005/05/oil-for-food-scandal-coverage-by-fox.html

Friday, Fox reported that Kofi Annan “did not initially tell investigators in the Oil-for-Food probe that he met twice with representatives of his son's employer as the Swiss company began soliciting United Nations business.” This is an Associated Press story that Fox chose to run. Friday and Saturday morning Fox highlighted the article on its home page as seen in the screen shot below under “Key Omission.” As of this time on Saturday, CNN has not reported on it.


FoxNews.com screen shot, 5/14/05, 8:00 am PST (cropped to show only news headlines and main stories)
Posted by Hello

Here is the link to Fox’s story:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156520,00.html

I checked a few other news web sites and did not find the story on web sites for the BBC, Aljazeera, Los Angeles Times, and NPR. However, I did find the story at MSNBC, New York Times, ABC, and the Washington Post.

More on Iraq War Coverage

Similar to my post last night, the Iraq update articles present different perspectives of the war. CNN’s article begins with a car bomb in Baghdad. The second sentence mentions the ongoing Operation Matador but begins with the U.S. death toll. By contrast, Fox’s opening sentence shows a strong U.S. operation with a purpose. Here are the first two sentences of each article:

CNN: A car bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol killed at least five people in central Baghdad and three street cleaners died when they apparently disturbed a roadside bomb on Saturday, Iraqi police said.

Meanwhile, the American death toll from Operation Matador -- a U.S.-led offensive to rout insurgents near the Syrian border -- rose to nine as the U.S. military confirmed the deaths of four more Marines in the explosion of an amphibious assault vehicle that hit a landmine on Wednesday.

FOX: Large numbers of U.S. forces supported by helicopters gathered outside this Euphrates River village Saturday, pushing ahead with their region-wide operation to wipe out supporters of Iraq's most wanted militant. The military said four more Marines were killed.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/14/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156530,00.html

Friday, May 13, 2005

Different Angles on Iraq War

Today’s articles about Iraq are very different in emphasis. CNN’s headline is “Iraqi leader extends state of emergency.” While Fox’s AP article mentions the extension of the state of emergency, it is only very briefly near the end of the article. Fox’s emphasis is more on U.S. progress in the fighting in western Iraq with the headline of “U.S. presses on with Iraq offensive.” CNN mentions this but near the end of its article. The impression a CNN reader might have is that things are still a mess in Iraq with martial law needed because of the continued and increased insurgent attacks. While Fox mentions the insurgent attacks, a Fox reader would probably be more optimistic about events in Iraq. Here are the dramatically different openings of both articles:

CNN: Iraq's transitional prime minister has extended the country's state of emergency for another 30 days. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's decree comes amid a deadly insurgent onslaught that started when the new Shiite- and Kurdish-dominated Iraqi government came to power a couple of weeks ago.

FOX: Iraqi fighters toting machine guns and grenade launchers swaggered through the rubble-strewn streets of this town on the Syrian border Friday, setting up checkpoints and preparing to do battle despite a major U.S. offensive aimed at rooting out followers of Iraq's most-wanted militant.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/13/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156421,00.html

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Spin on the Bolton Committee Vote

It is no surprise that there were some differences in the reporting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote to send Bolton’s name to the Senate, but doing so without any endorsement. Both articles had information that was both pro and con (Fox’s article is longer and has considerably more detail on both sides of the issue). However there are four interesting differences that can be attributed to bias, one way or the other, depending on your perspective. For example, CNN leads with “In a blow to the White House, …” which is more anti-Bush administration than Fox leading with the nomination being “sent out of committee Thursday, albeit with a glaring asterisk.”

Secondly, CNN makes the following statement about endorsements by committees being “customary” and the lack of an endorsement being “rare:”

CNN: The vote was along party lines -- 10 to 8. An endorsement is customary when a nomination advances to the floor for consideration. It's rare to withhold a recommendation or to send a negative one, the committee's other option.

Note, however, Fox’s statement makes it seem more normal as an allowed procedure:

FOX: Committees that are unsure about a nominee may send a vote to the floor without an endorsement, to allow the full Senate to decide.

Thirdly, note the difference in predictions of a full Senate vote:

CNN: Voinovich was outspoken Thursday in his opposition to Bolton's nomination, suggesting it might not pass the full Senate, where it needs a simple majority of 51 for approval.

FOX: Bolton should have an easier time there, where Republicans hold a 55-45 majority.

Finally, Fox made this comment about the vote as a failure of the Democrats in one respect:

FOX: The panel's eight Democratic members, who unanimously opposed Bolton's appointment, failed to get the support of at least one Republican to keep him from getting an up-and-down vote.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/12/senate.bolton/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156297,00.html

Monday, May 09, 2005

Allegations against Sen. Hillary Clinton

There are some interesting differences in articles today about a group wanting Senator Hillary Clinton investigated for possible problems related to a Hollywood campaign fundraiser. CNN, predictably, is more Hillary-friendly than Fox News. Here are five differences indicating biases one way or the other:

1. Notice the yellow highlighted words in the opening sentences. There is a big difference between CNN’s “conservative watchdog group with a history of dogging the Clintons” and Fox’s “self-described "public interest group that fights government corruption".”

CNN: A conservative watchdog group with a history of dogging the Clintons urged a Senate panel on Monday to investigate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton over a Hollywood fundraiser for which a former staffer faces charges.

FOX: A self-described "public interest group that fights government corruption" has filed an ethics complaint with a Senate panel, asking it to investigate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for her role in an alleged attempt to defraud the Federal Election Commission and the U.S. Senate.

2. In the blue highlighted words above, Fox’s statement of the reason sounds much more serious than CNN’s statement.

3. As noted above, CNN calls Judicial Watch a group “with a history of dogging the Clintons.” Fox says that Judicial Watch “has a history of monitoring the New York senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.” Again, a huge difference in the connotations of the words used with Fox’s “monitoring” sounding much more like a responsible, reasonable action than CNN’s use of “dogging.”

4. The person making the allegations is Peter Paul who CNN describes as a “three-time convicted felon.” Fox provides more specific information on Paul’s legal problems but never uses the word “felon.” Fox refers to Paul’s “legal tangles.”

5. Both articles have a picture of Hillary and neither is particularly flattering. However, CNN’s photo shows Hillary in the act of speaking at an event in Wisconsin. Fox’s picture is of a somber, close-mouthed Hillary. Fox also has a picture of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton whereas CNN does not.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/09/clinton.fundraising.ap/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,155980,00.html