Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An example of what I study

As some of you know, one of my scholarly pursuits is the study of bias and propaganda. Specifically, how bias is expressed, either consciously or unconsciously, in reporting.

I don't think I'm stating anything new when I say that within my memory I've never seen an election where the major media, with the exception of FOX, was so openly in the tank for a presidential candidate. (FOX is pretty openly for McCain as well - but then they don't pretend to be neutral.)

At any rate, this is an example of the kind of thing I look for - bias expressed in the choice of as little as one word, which may very well be unconscious.

The following is from an MSNBC article on campaign rumors, which cover both sides in an apparent attempt to be fair. Please notice the followinging excerpt.


Rumors increase in last days of campaigns
With just days before the election, untruths spread virally over the Internet

AP Tuesday, Oct. 28

'Who wrote Obama's autobiography, `Dreams From My Father?'' asked conservative Web site and talk show hosts last week, hinting that the writing was so sophisticated and used similar styles, including 'water metaphors,' that radical William Ayers must have been the true author. He wasn't. Obama was. 'Utter hogwash,' said Obama organizers debunking the claim.

No, they didn't “debunk” the claim, he denied it.

I've seen similar misuse of language when someone says they "disproved" a claim, when in fact they dismissed it.

I believe I see a subtler phenomenon in the article as a whole, involving the choice of rumors but that's more open to subjective interpretation. This is not.


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