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:,2933,183902,00.html

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