Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Late-term" vs. "Partial-birth" Abortion

Note: see my April 2007 update on this issue at


There are clear differences in how an abortion story is being covered. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of a federal law banning a certain type of procedure. Fox News ran an AP story and CNN wrote their own article. CNN uses language that is less favorable towards the federal law while Fox is more favorable. Here are three examples:

1. CNN uses the term “late-term abortion” frequently in its article including its headline. Fox on the other hand never uses that term but uses the term “partial-birth abortion.” CNN notes that “partial-birth abortion” is a term used by critics.

2. There is quite a difference as you can see in how the procedure is described:

CNN: Abortion rights groups object to the term "partial birth," and even "late-term abortion," saying the procedure is done before the fetus is viable and is performed only in the second or early third trimester, usually within 12 to 15 weeks of the start of pregnancy.

Doctors call the procedure an intact dilation and extraction, or "intact D and E."

FOX: The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act prohibits a certain type of abortion, generally carried out in the second or third trimester, in which a fetus is partially removed from the womb, and the skull is punctured or crushed.

3. CNN quotes the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America who is against the federal law. In fact 21% (by word count) of the article is devoted to Planned Parenthood’s views. Fox notes opposition to the federal law by the president of the National Abortion Federation; 4% of its article. CNN does not quote any non-governmental groups that are in favor of the ban. Fox quotes the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, 5% of its article.

Links to articles:



Thursday, February 16, 2006

more vacation

I'll be out of town and unable to post for a few days. The next post will be next Tuesday the 21st of Feb.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Katrina Response: Who is to Blame, Fed or Locals?

A congressional report, “A Failure of Initiative,” on the Government’s response to Hurricane Katrina will be released Wednesday. Both CNN and Fox News had excerpts of the report. CNN ran their own article and Fox ran an AP story. CNN seems to point its finger mostly at the federal response while Fox spreads the blame. CNN talks in general about failures of “the government.” I believe this implies just the federal government since all specific examples cited by CNN are from the federal level. Here are the references to local governments in both articles and you can see that little is mentioned of local and state failures, compared with Fox:



… committee that investigated the response to Katrina at the local, state and federal levels.

It interviewed scores of federal, state and local authorities, …

Government at all levels took an indifferent stance toward disaster preparations …

Finding fault with the White House down to local officials …

… the report concludes that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin waited until too late to order a mandatory evacuation of the city.

"Despite years of recognition of the threat that was to materialize in Hurricane Katrina, no one — not the federal government, not the state government, and not the local government — seems to have planned for an evacuation

A lack of warning systems for levee failures delayed their fast repair and poor communications equipment prevented federal, state and local emergency responders …

Links to articles:



Wednesday, February 08, 2006

time out for vacation

I'll be traveling on vacation for a week to go to my oldest son's wedding. I will have little opportunity to post anything during that time. My next post should be on February 15th. See ya then.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Gonzales: Domestic Eavesdropping OR Terrorism Surveillance

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning President Bush’s authorization of surveillance. While they report on the same story, CNN’s article has Gonzales more on the defensive whereas Fox News is friendlier to the administration. Here are some examples (there are more than what I have listed):

Headlines: CNN’s main headline says, “Senators challenge Gonzales on spying” which has Gonzales on the hot seat. Fox, on the other hand, shows a stronger Gonzales with “Gonzales Defends NSA Wiretaps.” I am not saying that either headline is wrong. They are both accurate but the words they choose and the tone they set are quite different.

Opening sentences: There are huge differences in the opening sentences. These sentences, along with the headlines, frame the readers’ perspective of the story. CNN notes that Bush’s program was “controversial,” that the Senate was “skeptical,” and that it needs to be “reviewed by a court.” CNN also uses the phrase “domestic eavesdropping” whereas Fox uses the term “terrorism surveillance.” Here are their opening sentences with some key differences highlighted:

CNN: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended the Bush administration's controversial domestic eavesdropping program before a skeptical Senate committee Monday, with the panel's Republican chairman suggesting it be reviewed by a court.

FOX: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday argued that President Bush's terrorism surveillance program is well within the boundaries of presidential authority in the time of war and said it "may make the difference between success and failure" in stopping the next terrorist attack.

Direct Quotes: I believe that the amount of the article devoted to direct quotes of a person is indicative of the importance placed on what that person says. CNN has 107 words of quotes of Gonzales. Fox has over four times the number, 452 words. CNN has 10% of its article devoted to quotes of Gonzales. Fox’s article is longer but over 21% of its article contains quotes from Gonzales.

Links to articles:



Wednesday, February 01, 2006

President Bush at the Grand Ole Opry House

President Bush took his State-of-the-Union message to Tennessee and both CNN and Fox News ran articles on it. I notice two types of bias:

1. Amount of space given to opposition views. By word count, CNN devoted 36% of its article to Democratic criticism. Fox News had only 8%.

2. Amount of coverage of the speech itself. CNN covered several issues in the President’s speech but Fox’s article was longer and noted the following issues not seen in the CNN article: Palestinians/Hamas, Iran, NSA wiretapping, Patriot Act, tax cuts, immigration, federal deficit, malpractice reform.

Links to articles:



Fact Check: State of the Union

Both CNN and Fox ran articles that checked some of the facts in President Bush’s State-of-the-Union speech. To my surprise, Fox’s AP story actually addressed more problems than did CNN. Here is a breakdown of the areas in which they each took issue:
















Links to articles: