Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

Old, Old Media Bias Story

Media bias isn't a new thing. Return with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear and the 1972 Presidential campaign.

In the fall of 1972, I was a high school senior and needed to prep to take the Illinois State Constitution Test, since I hadn't taken it as a freshman because I was in California at the time. The best way to do this was to sign up for a semester of "Government", so I did.

There were two sections of this class, both taught by a student teacher who was fresh out of college and reasonably to the left politically. My friends and I were considerably less so. Some of them (who coincidentally had spent time on the debate team) were in the morning section; I was in the afternoon section. We'd get together over lunch and discuss the issue of the day for the class, which meant that -- by the time I got there in the afternoon -- I was ready with every argument that my friends had produced in the morning (modulo any refinements that I added) and any argument that I could add to the pile.

After about two weeks of this, the poor student teacher started using different lesson plans in the morning and the afternoon.

But I digress...

One of the things we were supposed to do was to turn in analysis of two news articles a week that had to do with government. Well, with the election on, that wasn't too difficult.

In the Seventies in St. Louis, we still had two newspapers: the Post-Dispatch, which was left-wing, and the Globe-Democrat, which was right-wing. Our family took them both, as one came in the morning and one in the evening.

One day, I found an article in each paper reporting on a speech that McGovern had given. They had to be reporting on the same speech, because it was on the same day and at the same place. But otherwise, you'd never have known it from reading the two articles.

McGovern had said something particularly inflammatory in the speech. The Globe-Democrat used the quote in the headline and wrote on it at some length. The Post-Dispatch omitted any mention of it.

And that was the day that I learned once and for all that the press was biased. But it made a great comparison write-up for class, if nothing else.

Now, you may argue that the Globe showed bias by reporting it. Or you might argue that the Post showed bias by omitting it.

But I think they were both biased. And I'm not sure it's possible for any news source to be truly unbiased, because:

a) We're all human.
b) Attempting to be unbiased just introduces different forms of bias, such as working hard to use neutral words when neutral words are less accurate than the ones they replace.

Anyway, all that's why I take a skeptical view of any source of news. Maybe you should too.
Tags: media, musings, politics

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