Overall, the constant refrain of press bias in the “Main Stream Media” has become time-worn, tiresome, and unfortunately almost universally acknowledged; when hearing this invective, many persons next continuous thought maybe, “Yea, so what else is new!” Years ago, you would hear the contra-posing argument that the charge of bias was not true. Next, there was a period where the storyline was “it’s really the other side that promoting its own bias”—often listed as Fox News and conservative talk radio. Today in articles, we sometimes see headlines that are so one-sided, the argument over whether bias exists seems like this should be forever moot.
Latent Press Bias becomes Blatant Press Bias.
Still, there are occasions where the latent bias in reporting crosses the line to blatant, literally defying logic! The above article is just such an egregious example. Yes, there are often examples on both sides of the political aisle, but almost any study of bias in the media reports an overwhelming amount of the leaning of the MSM is on the left side of the fence. The largest, by numbers, if not circulation, of reporting entities favor a left-leaning slant. To be clear, I have no problem with latent bias from reporters. I have thought it is a bit of a myth to expect that it did not exist in the first place. It is a blatant, purposeful, and manipulative bias that I object to. While this is a liberal-leaning example, you can find the same in conservative channels as well. Sadly it is becoming so pervasive that people are becoming numb to it and are expecting it everywhere. As such, they are becoming more rote and less cognitive as they consume the supposed news.
When all else fails, say the other guy is a liar.
The article above is a great example of the expression of bias while maintaining the cursory argument of balance and fairness. The headline of this article is crafted to impute that Mitt Romney is a deceitful politician. This is directly in support of the current narrative from the president’s campaign that Mitt Romney is a liar; that he lies about his record, he lies about his plans, and he really wants to gut the poor, destroy the middle class and enrich the top 1%. While many ignore this, some will believe it if they see it enough in print. It is to this rote, non-cognitive reader that articles like this are directed. Since the debate, this narrative has begun to be the only arrow left in the quiver, and it is being shot into the ether more and more as the president’s poll numbers sag.
The body of the article covers about twelve column inches. Not a particularly long article, but, like most, you do not read the entire article, you would find that it is in the tip of the tale of this dog that provides the argument for its balance and fairness. The first eleven inches of the article once again try to remind us that Mitt Romney is really still evil Bain Capital incarnate. It continues the narrative that Bain is one of the worst of the “evil capitalists” who destroy jobs and America’s middle class by deals like this one. In this example, Bain invested in a company, a Chinese Company no less, who purchased an auto parts manufacturer in the U.S. 9 years ago, and after owning it for 4 years, shut down the U.S. plants that were losing money and uncompetitive instead of cheaper manufacturing in a new factory they build in China that could build the same components competitively for the world market. The assumption being if they had not moved to China, the plants would still be in business and not bankrupt from declining sales.
The article continues the “evil” narrative by invoking the China manipulation storyline by pointing out that the Chinese government provided subsidies to the company to build the factory. In effect, the reporters try to subtly tie the “evil Chinese currency manipulators as somehow in cahoots with Romney and Bain to defraud America, steal our jobs and bankrupt our people. They also remind us once again that Mitt Romney, remember he really is still Bain according to the narrative, is blasting China for this manipulation, on the one hand, while deceitfully reaping the benefits on the other. In effect, they are not so subtly trying to advance the story that Mitt lies, and he is somehow not what he seems to be.
Balance is always in the last column inch
As stated, the article covers twelve column inches. If one read as much as eleven of the twelve inches, they would walk away with the firm opinion that something is just not right with Mitt Romney. Since most people “skim” newspaper stories, this will be the dominant outcome. It is the last single inch of this article where the reporters tip their hat to balance and fairness, and their hands showing that with bias and malice, they are promoting a hidden narrative coming from the President’s campaign. They report that at least one other candidate owns an interest in the same company in this last inch. That person being the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. And there, in that last inch, they conveniently point out specifically that it is through a state retirement plan—so I guess that means it’s not the President’s fault. Yet, Romney owns his interests through a blind trust—so somehow, it is his fault. Only with eleven inches of writing against one inch of “balance and fairness” could someone make such a preposterous argument!
You don’t believe there is an agenda? Then explain why the headline did not shout, “Obama and Romney blast China while both reap profits?”That would have been fair and balanced!