T Nation

Media Coverage


#1

Example #1 of Media Bias. This amusing little stumble, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, was enunciated by a prominent politician in the past several days. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/09/18/MN253560.DTL "My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," he said.

The politician in question enunciated the same mistake two times in a row. Had this been said by George Bush, it would have been all over the news as evidence of his alleged stupidity. Had it been uttered by Dan Quayle, I shudder to think of how often it would have been repeated. But, it was said by Gray Davis, Democrat. Reporters are unwilling to characterize Democrats as stupid.

Example 2.

This was said by a much ballyhooed late entrant into the field as a Democratic Presidential candidate, and a man who has been lauded for his intellect:

The Bush tax cuts weren't fair. The people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it's not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don't have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life.

General Wesley Clark said this. The lack of coverage speaks volumes. Somehow I slept through the class session in American History where they explained just how the country was founded "on a principle of progressive taxation." "No Taxation Without Progressivity," was that the big slogan? In fact, the original Constitution, prohibited federal direct taxes except when apportioned among the states by population, and this was eventually interpreted as prohibiting all federal income taxes (progressive or not). It took the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913 to undo that. This was not a constraint on state governments, but I can think of no instance where any state passed any sort of "Progressive" income tax within the least the first two generations after the Founders. In fact, the preferred method of Federal taxation at the time, excise taxes on imports and exports, tended to hit middle and lower class purchasers the hardest (much like sales tax on food), unless they were levied solely on goods such purchasers could not afford anyway (in which case you still had deleterious effects on income and jobs, much like how the famous yacht tax killed the U.S. yacht-building industy).

Once again, had this been a Republican, he would have been excorciated. My point actually isn't that either of these remarks proves the speakers are stupid. In both cases, I'm fairly sure they are not. And neither are Bush or Quayle. I went to law school with Dan Quayle's son -- bright kid. But in both above cases, I would bet you dollars to donuts that press coverage would have been much heavier, and much more negative, if the speakers were Republicans. The press simply needs to characterize Republicans as stupid in order to characterize conservative ideals and ideas as "simplistic," and to stroke their own egos for disagreeing with such "simplistic" ideas.

When one is speaking in public and peppered with questions, it seems misspeaking would be a relatively common occurence. I have heard absurd things come out of Professors' mouths. I have said things I know were untrue, and used the wrong word even when I knew the correct one. Some politicians ARE stupid. But a misstatement, or even a bunch of them, really doesn't prove much. Or, to say it another way, don't "misunderestimate" people based on a slip of the tongue.


#2

Exactly.


#3

I have oftern wondered what "planet" Mr. Davis was from.

It is also interesting to note that Bill Clinton rushed Clark's retirement from the military and is now endorsing him. Seems that his military background would help Hillary's ticket if he decides to run with her as a VP. One should examine both Clark's and Clinton's war record to see what a sham that is.


#4

I don't know. Give Fox News a chance to report it. :slight_smile:

Excellent post.


#5

How can you guys possibly say the media is biased?!?!?

lolol

The thing I really think is funny is that until foxnews came around, all the liberals were silent on the issue.
Either that or they actually claimed that places like CNN were right wing.

Now with fox news out there for the bashing, they all jump on that bandwagon.


#6

I agree with the basic point, but let's face it, when a man thinks that he has to speak Latin to sommunicate with the people in Latin America, that's just sad. And it wasn't a slip of the tongue.

I think Bush has a fair amount of smarts, but Dan Quayle? Highly, highly doubtful.


#7

Well, some of the stuff the media jumped on Quayle for was just ridiculous -- remember the whole "potatoe" thing? [Side note -- that actually is an acceptable alternate spelling according to the ol' dictionary]. Plus, I know I've said some pretty stupid things in my time when I'm tired, or not paying close attention, or what have you. You have to think that these guys have the media recording them 24/7 -- or at least all the time they're in public.

Plus, unless his kids got all their smarts from their mom, Dan had to have something going on upstairs.

As I said, I went to law school at Vanderbilt with his son -- smart guy, and really cool too.


#8

Also, on my other point, can you recall any Democratic politicians being portrayed as generally stupid? I can't. With Democrats, they choose other flaws to make fun of -- usually wooden personality, or lasciviousness. Only Republicans get portrayed as stupid.

As I said, I think it has to do with the fact that the reporters want to subtley (or, really, not so subtley) portray conservative policies as simple minded. As they believe in the liberal policies, they will not create a caricature of a liberal politician that could be used to criticize the underlying policies. For liberals, the criticisms have to be purely personal.


#9

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the other favorite critique of Republican politicians when the reporters know they can't get "stupid" to fit: mean (see Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Phil Gramm, etc.).

Shifty, slick, etc., seem to get applied to politicians of all stripes without much trouble.


#10

Any of you guys read the Ann Coulter book "Treason". It touches on similiar topics and is a pretty good read. Check it out.


#11

"Also, on my other point, can you recall any Democratic politicians being portrayed as generally stupid? I can't. With Democrats, they choose other flaws to make fun of -- usually wooden personality, or lasciviousness. Only Republicans get portrayed as stupid."

HAHA Let's see, Kennedy won a Pulitzer, Carter was a nuclear physicist or something, Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar... now Wesley Clark, another Rhodes Scholar, is in the race... need I go on? What Republicans have done anything like that?


#12

"HAHA Let's see, Kennedy won a Pulitzer, Carter was a nuclear physicist or something, Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar... now Wesley Clark, another Rhodes Scholar, is in the race... need I go on? What Republicans have done anything like that?"

Plenty. But you'd probably argue that their achievements were bought by oil companies and the auto industry, wouldn't you?


#13

Speaking of Anne Coulter - check Al Franken's latest bk in which with much humour he dissects her various lies and quotes taken completely out of context in order to fit her points.

As Al says, she has "a lie on every page"

funny!

Some media is liberal, some conservative - just as you'll find in society in general.

I've no objection to that.

Maybe the issue should be that since 9/11 the mainstream media, liberal or not, isn't capable of addressing serious issues regarding the Bush Admin. in an effective manner.

Little or no serious debate on most of the harder issues.

And I very much doubt its because the ol' "we should unite in times of war".