Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pres. Bush at the U.S. Naval Academy

As might be expected, biases can be seen in the coverage of President Bush’s speech on Iraq at the U.S. Naval Academy. One of the things I like to do in comparing articles about the same event is to compare the opening sentences. Opening sentences set the tone for the articles and establish a perspective for the reader. I believe they also indicate biases, intentional or not. You will see below a comparison of the opening sentences of both CNN’s article and Fox News’ article on Bush’s speech. While both sentences are true, the choice of words are indicators of bias with CNN being more anti-Bush and Fox being more pro-Bush. I have inserted my comments, in brackets and highlighted.

CNN:

President Bush countered [this has Bush on the defensive] diminishing support [a reminder of the unpopularity of the war] for the U.S.-led Iraq war on Wednesday in a speech outlining what he believes must be accomplished before withdrawing [withdrawing is the goal as opposed to Fox’s use of the word "victory"] any forces.

Fox News:

The United States has a “plan [a more positive indication of a definitive plan than what CNN states] for victory[not withdrawal, but victory – see above] that involves overcoming a "common enemy" to Iraqis and Americans that must be defeated abroad so Americans will be safer [an indication of the benefit to Americans] here at home, President Bush said Wednesday.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/30/us.iraq/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,177129,00.html

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bush and Rumsfeld on Iraq

President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld made comments about the Iraq war one day prior to an address Bush will give to the Naval Academy. CNN’s article is not as favorable towards Bush as Fox News’ article. Here are some key, biased differences in the coverage:

* CNN gives comments in opposition to Bush from Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). In fact, by word count, CNN devotes 20.2% of its article to Senator Reed. By contrast, Fox has no opposing statements.

* CNN adds several negative comments towards Bush (not found in Fox’s article) including:

“The United States invaded Iraq in March 2003 on the contention that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain nuclear weapons and had concealed chemical and biological weapons stockpiles from U.N. weapons inspectors. No such weapons were found once Hussein was toppled, and American troops have been battling a persistent insurgency since his government collapsed in April 2003.”

“The U.S. death toll reached 2,110 Tuesday when a roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers north of Baghdad, and support for the conflict has dropped sharply in recent months.” [Note: Fox notes the rising death poll and drop in approval but mentions no specific numbers.]

“Only 35 percent of those surveyed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken earlier this month said they approved of Bush's handling of the conflict, and 54 percent said the invasion had been a mistake.”

“A crowd of anti-war demonstrators met him after he landed, waving signs urging Bush's impeachment and a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Some waved their middle fingers at reporters traveling with the president.”

Several quotes from Democratic Senator Reed from RI.

* CNN devotes very little of its article to Rumsfeld. CNN quotes some of the same statements as Fox but Fox has significantly more including the following list of specific accomplishments mentioned by Rumsfeld:

“He said 95 battalions, about 50,000 of the 212,000 Iraqi force, are trained, equipped and in the fight against insurgents.

“He said Iraqi forces control 87 square miles of Baghdad, one entire province, and 450 square miles of territory in other provinces.

“The Iraqi army has seven division and 31 brigade headquarters in operation.

“Twenty-nine military bases are operated by Iraqis.”

"We've been passing over bases; we've been passing real estate; we've been turning over responsibilities. I mean, what else can you do? Nothing happens at the same time, in one fell swoop. This is hard stuff for them. It's isn't going to be perfect. But, by golly, the people who've been denigrating the Iraqi security forces are flat wrong. They've been wrong from the beginning. They're doing a darn good job, and they're doing an increasingly better job every day, every week, every month. And they have to, because it's their country," Rumsfeld said.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/29/us.iraq/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,177033,00.html

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pro-wrestling is to Sports as Political Talk Show Hosts are to News

This is the first of my postings to branch out from just comparing CNN and Fox News in order to discuss things that get in the way of true dialogue about the issues (hence the addition of "etc." to my blog title). I believe that political talk show hosts get in the way of that dialogue. I see a comparison with pro wrestling.

Pro-wrestling is not a sport. It sounds like a sport. It looks kind of like a sport. The “wrestlers” have to have some sort of athletic ability. However, it is first and foremost, entertainment. Some have referred to it as a soap opera for males.

Similarly, many political talk show hosts are not truly news reporters and commentators. It kind of sounds like they are. The hosts do have to have some level of intelligence and political savvy. However, they are first and foremost, entertainers. They whip up their audiences against the other side. They create shows that will give them ratings. They become personalities that people either love or love to hate. They do not, however, really add to the honest discussion of issues.

On Oct 13, 2003, PBS broadcast a Terrance Smith interview of Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes. Sean and Alan are a conservative and liberal paired for the Fox TV show Hannity and Colmes. Concerning talk radio, here two comments from the interview but you can see the entire transcript at the link below:

SEAN HANNITY: It's all about money, ratings, and the bottom line. If you produce a show that will draw an audience, if you can get an audience, and you can keep them for as long as possible and generate ratings, then you will also generate revenue, and that's the bottom line for these station owners.

ALAN COLMES: I happen to be a liberal hosting a talk radio program. You know, we've been successful, and we've only been on for six months. We've got some top stations around the country. I think it's not so much about your ideology, as it is about, you know, are you entertaining? Are you a good host? It's not are you liberal or are you conservative? I think Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, if they were liberal and doing the kind of shows they're still doing, they would still be successful because they are broadcasters who understand the medium. It's not about whether you're left or right, it's what you bring to the table that attracts an audience. And an audience is going to listen, if you're entertaining, and I don't think it's about being left or right. And I think that's what a lot of people miss.

Bottom line for me is to remember that these are entertainers and not spokespeople for any party or ideology.

Link for the transcript:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/media/interviews/colmeshannity.html

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cheney and Murtha

Note: Posting during the week will be sporadic due to the holidays. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Lots of bias, for sure, in articles about Vice President Dick Cheney’s defense of the administration’s Iraq policy in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

First of all, CNN makes Cheney sound like an apologist in opening its article with: “Vice President Dick Cheney continued the Bush administration's efforts Monday to pull back on attacks against a decorated war veteran who called for the near-term withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq.” The link on the CNN home page was “Cheney continues retreat on Murtha criticism.” Fox News makes a similar point but it is more matter-of-factly mentioned in the middle of its article. Fox’s home page link to the story was “Cheney defends Iraq war.”

CNN’s article was 984 words long, Fox’s was 1,212 words. Counting the words in direct quotes, CNN has 17.9% of its article devoted to Cheney’s quotes while Fox is higher at 23.7%.

CNN had 48.2% (by word count) of its article devoted to criticism of Cheney and the administration. Fox was lower with 36.5% of its words for criticism.

CNN included a link for “Read more on Wilkerson's comments about Cheney providing torture "guidance".” [“Wilkerson” is Larry Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff.]

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/21/cheney/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,176235,00.html

Sunday, November 20, 2005

DNC vs. RNC: Murtha

Both the DNC and RNC web sites have blog sections. Congressman Murtha’s (D-PA) call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is the subject of the latest blog posts. The DNC has a post by Joe Rospars entitled “Shame on Them: Americans in Our Own Voices” in which excerpts are given from letters in support of Murtha. The RNC blog by Katie MacGuidwin is entitled “Dems Distance Themselves From Murtha” in which she has John Kerry and Harry Reid disagreeing with Murtha.

The DNC also includes a post from Howard Dean. Compare these quotes from the MacGuidwin post and the Dean post:

RNC, MacGuidwin: “By decrying staying the course, and disagreeing with pulling out, Democrats are once again showing their usual lack of leadership by posturing for political gain.”

DNC, Dean: “The history of this war has shown that Republicans value political posturing more than the service of America's veterans.”

Who is posturing? Where is the real debate?

Links to the blog posts:

http://www.gop.com/Blog/BlogPost.aspx?BlogPostID=1440

http://www.democrats.org/blog.html

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Photos of Cindy Sheehan

CNN and Fox News ran different AP stories about war protestor Cindy Sheehan concerning her arrest for demonstrating near the White House without a permit. To accompany its article Fox chose an AP photo from Texas in August in which it looks like she has having some type of confrontation with a sheriff. CNN chose a more sympathetic AP photo of Sheehan looking sad, with her head framed by two signs saying “war is not the answer.” Here are the pictures:

Fox (AP)















CNN (AP)
















Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/11/16/peacemom.ap/index.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,175740,00.html

The Senate, the Pentagon, and Iraq

In Senate action yesterday they decided on language to be included in the Pentagon spending bill that calls for 2006 to be "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty." Fox ran an AP article with a headline that emphasizes the defeat of a Democratic plan while CNN ran their own article with a headline that puts President Bush more on the hot seat. Here are the headlines:

FOX: Senate Defeats Dems Plan for Iraq Withdrawal

CNN: Senate demands accountability on war

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/16/senate.iraq/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,175590,00.html

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Amman Hotel Bombing

CNN and Fox News had identical AP articles on the Iraqi woman who failed in her bid to blow herself up in an Amman hotel. They chose different headlines which are listed below:

CNN: U.S. killed confessed bomber's brothers, friends say

FOX: Three of Bombing Suspect's Brothers Died in Iraq

Does CNN’s wording indicate some fault of the U.S. in causing the hotel bombing? Fox’s headline just indicates that her brothers had died in Iraq. Subtle difference, yes. Indication of bias? Perhaps.

Links to the articles:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/15/
jordan.blasts.ap/index.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,175578,00.html

Sunday, November 13, 2005

DNC vs. RNC: Veterans Day

Each chairman made an official Veterans Day statement. RNC chairman, Ken Mehlman, gave what I would call a traditional message on the occasion of honoring our military dead. Little mention is made of current political issues regarding Iraq. Mehlman does include our current service members with those who have served in the past. He makes statements such as:

“Whether it’s the beaches of Normandy, or the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, American soldiers have always answered the call to protect our homeland and help ensure the security of peaceful people on all corners of the earth.”

“It’s particularly important this Veterans Day for all Americans to recognize the sacrifice of our soldiers who are currently fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, because tomorrow’s veterans, like those before them, are today’s heroes who stand against tyranny and fight for the cause of freedom.”

Howard Dean of the DNC takes advantage of the opportunity to address the political issues. After saying some kind words about veterans, Dean addresses some of the current concerns such as:

"So many of these brave men and women joined our armed forces to protect and defend our nation, asking only that their government keep its promise to take care of them when their service was done. Sadly, Republicans in Washington have failed to make those promises a priority.”

Dean gives examples of the Democrats work for Veterans including this: “While Democrats are fighting to fund combat-related trauma centers, VA medical and prosthetic research, and programs to expedite the processing of benefits claims, Republicans in Congress have stood in the way”

I suppose it is natural for the party not in office to be more on the attack. That is certainly the case with Dean’s statement.

Links to the statements:

http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/11/hello.php

http://www.rnc.org/News/Read.aspx?ID=5920

Saturday, November 12, 2005

DNC vs. RNC: Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination

I am thinking about morphing my blog into doing the same type of analysis of statements by the parties, elected officials, etc. I am a little tire of the posturing and sound bites and propaganda that get in the way of true dialogue. More on that later.

It is interesting to note the statements of the Republican and Democratic party chairmen on Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Each are trying to point to the extreme elements of the other party.

Howard Dean, DNC chair, characterizes Alito as “an extreme conservative” and his nomination as Bush’s attempt to “distract from the ethical problems his White House is facing.” Dean also uses the following terms in referring to Alito: “a conservative activist judge,” “an activist judicial philosophy bent on rolling back the rights and freedoms that all Americans value,” one who has “sought to limit the rights of women and people with disabilities …, demonstrated an open hostility to women's privacy rights ..., a record of hostility toward immigrants, and tried to immunize employers from employment discrimination cases.”

Ken Mehlman, RNC chair, says Democratic senators should “resist the calls for ideological litmus tests from Chuck Schumer and the far-left.” Alito is characterized as “one of the finest legal minds in the country,” and “one of the fairest, most impartial jurists in the country who has always faithfully interpreted the Constitution and will not legislate from the bench.”

I am always leery when I see one side or the other trying to portray what their opponents are thinking or saying. This is the case when Dean says that Alito is “bent on rolling back the rights and freedoms that all Americans value.” Dean is, in essence, putting words in Alito’s mouth.

A few days after Dean’s statement, DNC Press Secretary Josh Earnest used more extreme wording saying, with regard to Alito’s nomination and other Bush actions, “… President Bush has put his partisan ideological interests ahead of the country’s interests by pushing a narrow, radical agenda.”

The RNC website includes a Los Angeles Times article from November 7th entitled, “In Case You Missed It: Alito's Record Defies Labels.” It is by David G. Savage and Maura Reynolds and includes this: “Although liberal activists are portraying Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as a right-wing extremist, his 15 years' worth of legal opinions do not promise fealty to any ideology. ... Democratic staffers who have been reading Alito's opinions acknowledge that they do not read like the work of a right-wing ideologue.”

Links to the statements:

http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/11/howard_dean_on.php

http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/11/lame_duck_flies.php

http://www.gop.com/News/Read.aspx?ID=5879

http://www.gop.com/News/Read.aspx?ID=5908

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

First Year Favorites

Well it is almost one year since I started this blog. I thought I would share my top three favorite posts:

#3
January 11, 2005; Howard Dean Photos

Howard Dean announced that he will be running for chair of the Democratic National Committee. CNN and Fox ran articles. In the two posts below you can see that CNN chose a distinguished picture of Dean at a podium. Fox chose a screaming Howard Dean which is related to his downfall this past election season.


CNN's picture of Dean for its article on Dean announcing that he will run for DNC chair


Fox's choice for their picture of Dean


Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/01/11/dean.dnc/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,144024,00.html



#2
December 19, 2004; Pres. Bush-Person of the Year

CNN chose to run a 319-word Reuters story about President Bush being named Times Person of the Year. Fox ran a 494-word AP story. Both are similar with more detail in the longer Fox article. Both mention previous persons of the year:

CNN: President Bush’s father; the American soldier; Charles Lindbergh; and the “notoriously unpopular” Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

Fox: “six other presidents who have twice won” the magazine's top honor: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton; three-time winner Franklin Roosevelt; Rudy Giuliani; the American soldier; Coleen Rowley (FBI agent); Cynthia Cooper and Sherron Watkins (whistle-blowers on scandals at Enron and Worldcom).

All of Fox’s AP list of previous winners are positive, popular people. CNN’s Reuters story has three popular and three at the other end of the scale to include Hitler. Was CNN trying to emphasize that even infamous leaders get the award? Was Fox avoiding that?

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/12/19/time.moy.bush.reut/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,141970,00.html



#1
May 2005, Photos from Iraq

CNN and Fox News both covered the story of the bombing in Iraq of a Kurdish police recruitment center where approximately 50 Iraqis were killed. CNN in the headline and article refers to it as a “suicide” bombing. As I have noted before, Fox usually does not label these as suicide attacks but rather as “homicide” attacks. CNN has four photos and Fox News has three, all from the AP. Presumably they had the same choices of photos to pick from. If so, it is interesting to see their choices. The same picture of one victim was used in both articles. The other choices of pictures were different. One picture in each set showed a soldier. However, there is a dramatic difference in the portrayal of the soldier and the situation. Here are the AP pictures with the caption each used. These photos are both powerful but send completely different messages.



CNN: A woman slumps against a wall after the suicide bombing attack Wednesday.
(AP)


Fox News: A U.S. soldier comforts a child fatally wounded in a car bomb blast in Mosul. (AP)
Posted by Hello

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/04/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,155440,00.html

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Summit of the Americas: Bush, Chavez, and Biases

CNN and Fox News took very different approaches to their respective updates on the Summit of the Americas. Fox is more pro-Bush and CNN focuses more on the anti-Bush sentiment. Here are four key differences which show their biases:

Headlines: CNN’s story is primarily about the protests with the headline “Americas summit protest turns violent.” Fox tries a more positive view of President Bush’s efforts with a headline of “Bush steadfast on free-trade vision.”

Protests: Most of CNN’s article is on the protests whereas Fox’s AP article mentions the protests in only four sentences.

Chavez: Left-leaning, anti-Bush, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is highlighted by CNN with a sub-headline of “Chavez leads protest.” Later CNN says: “…Chavez led a rally against Bush's policies. "Peoples of the Americas are rising once again, saying no to imperialism, saying no to fascism, saying no to intervention -- and saying no to death," Chavez yelled to the cheering crowd.” That is much different than Fox’s statement that “…Chavez has been the most vocal critic of the trade pact and boldly declared that he will see that it's killed. "Here, in Mar del Plata, FTAA will be buried!" Chavez told more than 10,000 protesters gathered just before the summit.” CNN has Chavez leading the protest with the crowd cheering. Fox’s description sounds like he just spoke to the group.

FTAA: Bush is pushing for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Fox’s article brings out many of the administrations points on why this would be beneficial. While noting that several countries were not onboard with the idea, no counter points against Bush’s proposal are mentioned by Fox. CNN notes that opposition is based on the fact that some countries believe the U.S. will take advantage of them. Fox includes this statement from Mexico President Vicente Fox: “"Anyone who blocks an accord like this is certainly looking out for their own interests and not the interests of others," Fox said. "This majority of countries are advancing toward a good, just and beneficial FTAA."” CNN does not even use "FTAA" in its article.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/americas/11/05/bush.summit/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,174674,00.html

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pres. Bush and the Summit of the Americas

CNN and Fox News have had articles about the upcoming Summit of the Americas. President Bush will attend the meeting which is in Argentina. A search of both web sites, using the search terms “Bush” and “Argentina,” found the articles shown below (the list includes only those articles pertaining specifically to the summit itself). So far, CNN’s headlines seem to focus more on the protestors than Fox and Fox is showing Bush in a more favorable role with the headline “Bush to promote poverty relief, trade in Latin America.”

CNN:

Cubans protest at summit (11.03.2005)
More than 300 Cubans gathered in this seaside Argentine town Thursday, where the governments of every nation in the Western Hemisphere minus Cuba were scheduled to meet for a two-day Summit of the Americas.

Anti-Bush protesters head to summit site (11.03.2005)
Hundreds of anti-American demonstrators rallied in Argentina's capital Thursday before heading in buses and cars to the beach resort of Mar del Plata, where a 34-nation Americas Summit was to be held this weekend.

Castro praises Maradona's anti-U.S. stand (11.01.2005)
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in a taped television interview with Diego Maradona, told Argentine viewers that he welcomed the Argentine soccer legend's plans to take part in anti-American protests at the upcoming Summit of the Americas.

Argentine resort fortified for summit (10.31.2005)
Thousands of police took up posts Monday, barricading Argentina's Atlantic resort of Mar del Plata as authorities braced for the fourth Summit of the Americas set to begin Thursday.

Bush's planned Argentina visit sparks protest (10.06.2005)
Anti-U.S. protesters hurled small leaflet bombs at two Citibank branches and other businesses in suburbs near the Argentine capital early Thursday, breaking windows and causing some fire damage, police said. No injuries were reported.

FOX:

Bush to Promote Poverty Relief, Trade in Latin America - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - WASHINGTON — President Bush and the thousands of demonstrators protesting his visit to Argentina that will begin Thursday have a...

Bush to Take on Troubles Abroad in Latin America - Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - WASHINGTON — Bedeviled by problems at home, President Bush (search) is confronting a new slate of troubles abroad this week on his...

Anti-Bush Protestors Rally Before Latin American Summit - Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Waving communist flags and images of famed revolutionary Che Guevara (search), thousands of people opposed...

Bush Plans Trip to Argentina, Brazil and Panama - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — President Bush (search) will travel to Argentina next month for the Summit of the Americas, the third such...

The most recent articles on each site are quite a contrast. Both are AP articles but each site, so far, chose to use different perspectives. Here are the opening sentences:

CNN:

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Hundreds of anti-American demonstrators rallied in Argentina's capital Thursday before heading in buses and cars to the beach resort of Mar del Plata, where a 34-nation Americas Summit was to be held this weekend.

FOX:

WASHINGTON — President Bush and the thousands of demonstrators protesting his visit to Argentina that will begin Thursday have a common goal of reducing poverty, but the test for Bush will be whether he can convince others in the hemisphere to support his solution.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Senate Bickering

One indication of bias is the number of words quoted from each side of an issue. In this mornings postings on the Democrats forcing a rare closed session, I counted the words of direct quotes of Democrats vs. Republicans. Here are the results:

CNN: Democrats-184 words to Republicans-98.

FOX: Democrats-404 words to Republicans-405.

Fox's article was longer with balanced quotes while CNN had twice as many words of Democratic direct quotes.