Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I’ve pointed out in earlier posts (here and here) the structural bias in our printed media: The anti-Republican stories are printed as “News” while the stories that support Republicans are printed as “Opinion.”

Today’s Denver Post (7/21/2010) illustrates the technique.

A couple of recent news stories have been about federal government officials. One relates to the head of NASA supporting Muslim outreach, while another is about an official from the USDA discussing racial preferences at a banquet for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The newsworthy issue in both cases is whether this kind of posturing is appropriate for government administrators acting in their official capacity.

The Post helps us sort out the correct understanding. With regard to Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia state director of rural development for the United States Department of Agriculture, a Washington Post story is presented on page four. The lead paragraph begins, “A fuzzy video of an Agriculture Department official opened a new front Tuesday in the ongoing war between the left and right…” The story goes on to explain, “A video of the full, 45-minute-plus speech shows that Sherrod was trying to make a very different point than the one her critics saw…”

The Post lets us know that the issue is not whether racism is displayed in the actions of a government official, but that Republicans misunderstood the good intentions of this Democratic Party appointee.

The Morning Brew column by Mike Littwin is on page two of today’s Post. (I featured an earlier column by Mr. Littwin here.) This morning, Mr. Littwin straightens out our understanding of the interview given by Administrator Charles Bolden of theNational Aeronautics and Space Administration. He does it from the context of a line delivered by Jane Norton, a Republican candidate for Senator from Colorado. He quotes Mrs. Norton as saying in a debate, “We need a NASA budget that doesn’t cater to making Muslims feel good but that is strong on science…”

Mr. Littwin helps us understand that the issue is not whether Muslim outreach is an appropriate mission of NASA, but that Republicans are naturally anti-Muslim. He even (reflexively? predictably!!) invokes Sarah Palin to strengthen his point.

In its first section, the Post helps us understand what “News” is, and how we should think about it. Is there an opposing point of view?

Well, yes there is…

The Post places it in the Op-Ed section, where David Harsanyi points out a disconnect with President Obama’s claim that Republicans are demonstrating a “lack of faith in the American people.” Mr. Harsanyi uses his column to cite evidence of our federal government treating Americans as clueless pawns. He concludes with the contention, “Obama is probably confusing faith in people with faith in power. Because as hard as one tries, it is difficult to find any instances of choices expanding under this administration. That’s the true test of confidence in the citizenry.”

Mr. Harsanyi makes a good point. Unfortunately, his readership is limited to those who venture into that strange new world where analysis is presented as Opinion.

When a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

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