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February 27th, 2007


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12:07 pm - Liberal biases in the media
A friend -- level_head has had a lot to say about liberal biases in the media. For example, we've argued at length about whether a story in the New York Times about a collection of Carl Sagan's writings was really a swat at President Bush here.

My own stance is that the mainstream media is actually split both ways and represents a reasonable split of all the biases as opposed to a clear shift in one direction or the other. For the most part, I find that either side complains about biases towards the other side. Conservatives have had a great deal of share in talk radio for years now. Liberals have had papers like the NY Times. Conservatives have had Fox. Liberals have had CBS.

Part of the shift away from reporting just the facts is something I blame on Edward R. Murrow. Consider his quote from the RTNDA speech:

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."


He's not entirely wrong. You can't merely report facts, you're compelled as a journalist to provide interpretations as well. People don't care about history because they don't see the relevance. Too often, they're unaware that what will become history is happening around them and they are honor bound to adjust it as they see fit -- especially in a democracy. Murrow added in his broadcast on Senator McCarthy:

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility."


CBS had a policy of providing equal time -- a hopelessly naive way of providing an opposing side of the argument, but one that's time honored.

It is with this in mind that I alert you to a particular quiet bit of news. It's reported by the Associated Press in the LA Times in a very short form -- obviously something that came off the wire and was tossed in with only the headline tweaked.

Essentially, the elections coordinator and ballot manager in Ohio have been convicted of voter fraud during the 2004 presidential election. My reading of it is that the poll workers in question were working to prevent a situation like Florida in the 2000 election by screening ballots. No mention is given to their particular bias or criteria for screening, though I read that they were removing votes of questionable intent instead of votes for one candidate or another.

I should add that my reading prefers incompetence to malice and attaches no particular significance to Ohio's importance in the 2004 election.

Now I ask you -- is this story's coverage in the MSM an example of liberal, conservative, or neither bias?

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:level_head
Date:February 27th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
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Imagine what they would have done with this news had Jacquiline Dreamer not been a Democrat. ];-)

As it is, I see any number of references hinting darkly (ignoring the facts) that this was a "rigged election" that was "tacitly approved" by Blackwell.

The convictions were for a felony count of negligence by an election worker, and one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty. Not "rigging the election" -- apparently, they tried to take an easy way out on recounts. No one involved suggests that their partial recount changed, or would have changed, the results of the election.

As the brief trial proceeded, it appeared that they were following procedures assumed to be correct for twenty years, or so they testified. These procedures only involve recounts, so I'd guess that they were not commonly implimented. The three charged were of three different political affiliations, (one Dem and one GOP). The supervisor (an "unaffiliated") was acquitted.

I agree with you: all the evidence in this instance suggested very local incompetence -- but see how many hits you get for this story that mention some variant of "rigged" or "rigging".

You wrote, the "elections coordinator and ballot manager in Ohio have been convicted of voter fraud" -- You'd almost think that these were Ohio state-level employees. They were workers in one county. And you'd almost get the impression that they were convicted of "voter fraud". I don't see that supported, though the AP story may have used those terms.

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:February 28th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
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In any close election, there's always outcries of unfairness. Republicans with long enough memories will point to Cook County.

This goes doubly so for the 2004 election because it had the same outcome as the 2000 election and nearly as close.

I hadn't intended to suggest that they were state level employees. The article itself specifically states Cuyahoga County. The article also specifically says that they were accused of "secretly reviewing preselected ballots before a public recount on Dec. 16, 2004. They worked behind closed doors for three days to pick ballots they knew would not cause discrepancies when checked by hand, prosecutors said." Not "voter fraud" or "rigging the election".

Which reads to me as a rather neutral and unbiased explanation.

Most of the hits I get which cry "rigged" remind me of Jon Stewart going on Crossfire and explaining that the reason his interviews aren't comparable to theirs is because he's a comedy show -- consider the sources here. Most of the hits are random Joe Blows -- not political commentators. The same sort of people who would show off radar pictures of supposed Navy missiles shooting down a TWA flight.

Besides, it's not as though there aren't plenty of conservative biased blogs out there. There's certainly conservative audiences out there.

Anyway, if the mainstream media is biased to the left, then why do you suppose that this hasn't made bigger news? The AP's hardly an unknown organization and bigger things have been made of shorter articles from the AP. Do you think they're overlooking that Maiden is a Republican?
[User Picture]
From:level_head
Date:March 1st, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
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Which reads to me as a rather neutral and unbiased explanation.

I'd agree.

Except that I'd think that "DemocraticUnderground" would qualify as a "political commentator" blog.

I don't know how the calculus of this piece worked. The press generally doesn't go after the many instances of Democrat voter fraud; perhaps, since the article apparently didn't say, they assumed that all three were Democrats. ];-)

It's a bit like the creationism-in-schools controversy. As a general rule, if the part affiliation of a politian promoting creationism isn't mentioned, it's Democrat. The number of Dems involved in this seems, as a result, to be effectively zero.

I've had occasion to read things like NCSE News since its inception, and get clippings from around the world on creationism issues. For some time, I pursued party affiliations on untagged persons, just to see. Occasionally, I ran into Democrats tagged as Republicans in the media as well.

The next time we get together, I'll give you a bit of behind-the-scenes in the Florida 2000 election. I was involved, peripherally. I was on a Lear Jet hopping around the state negotiating with Florida government agencies and credit bureaus on that deal. ];-)

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:March 2nd, 2007 02:21 am (UTC)
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The next time we get together...

Every so often you say something which suggests a worrying amount of prescience.

relsqui and I were just chattering about travel plans (which I have a half-written post about). We're on our way to Cancun next week and flying out of LA. We'll be a little pressed for time heading down, but we'll be on our way back up on Sunday (the 11th). If you and Lady Anne will be free, we'd love to catch up with you.
[User Picture]
From:level_head
Date:March 2nd, 2007 02:35 am (UTC)
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As it happens, I am likely to be at the Los Angeles airport the evening of the 11th, returning from a trip. Perhaps I can hitch a ride home with you folks? I'll buy dinner! ]:-)

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:March 2nd, 2007 08:45 am (UTC)
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Ha!

That all depends on how you define evening. Around what time is evening for you? It shouldn't be too bad going back up and I'm already planning to take the 101 route to avoid the Grapevine, but I'm going to want some semblance of a good night's rest before Monday.
[User Picture]
From:level_head
Date:March 2nd, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
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What time do you get to the airport? The normal flight I take for this trip would get in to LAX about 8:15 (USAirways), but perhaps I can shuffle things a bit.

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:March 2nd, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
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Getting to the airport isn't a problem -- we'll have been back in the smoke since the day before, so it would be a quick jaunt over the hill and a run up the 101.

If you could slide the time back to some time around 6pm, then that would be awesome. If it can't get earlier than 7pm, then I probably ought to give you my regrets rather than a ride.
[User Picture]
From:level_head
Date:March 2nd, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
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we'll have been back in the smoke since the day before

It's always surprising for me to hear people talking about LA smog. There is certain evidence of smog down south toward Long Beach and out east in the Riverside/Corona area, but LAX? Los Angeles hit its peak of smog in 1955, and has long lost the title to various European and Asian cities. And Mexico City, of course, is famously opaque.

I'll try to shuffle flights, and will probably be successful.

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:March 2nd, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
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Oh -- you won't hear arguments from me to the opposite. As a former native, I usually end up arguing that myth into oblivion with people I meet up here. As far as I know, "the smoke" was first used colloquially to refer to London which was probably at least as bad as Mexico City in its day, if not worse. In the same way that modern English refer to the much-improved London as "the smoke", I refer to cities as "the smoke".

It makes the lives of future etymologists difficult, but isn't that what makes etymology interesting? ; )
[User Picture]
From:level_head
Date:March 2nd, 2007 02:37 am (UTC)
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Every so often you say something which suggests a worrying amount of prescience.

At this rate, I might soon be up to doing real science.

===|==============/ Level Head
[User Picture]
From:testing4l
Date:March 2nd, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
At this rate, I might soon be up to doing real science.

Be careful what you wish for -- if you ever did that and stopped, then you'd have omniscience by having had prescience, science, and postscience! There's a number of famous tales exploring why that's not necessarily a good thing.
[User Picture]
From:babe_of_beyazit
Date:March 5th, 2007 10:05 am (UTC)
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Did investigators ever figure out why there was such a consistent discrepency in favor of Bush between the final tallies and the exit polls in the swing states? I'm sure there must have been voter fraud in there somewhere. How else could you explain that? I don't buy the theory that the "exit polls were simply inaccurate". Why would they give such suggestive results?

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