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July 13, 2004

ORSON SCOTT CARD ON MEDIA BIAS METHODS

Noted science fiction writer Orson Scott Card writes for the Wall Street Journal :

In a story on Donald Rumsfeld's remarks to the graduating class at West Point, here is the lead paragraph: "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, making no mention of the prisoner abuse scandal that has led to calls for his ouster, told a cheering crowd of graduating cadets Saturday that they will help win the global fight against terror."

Let's see, how could there be any bias in that? Every word is true, right?

Except for this: Mr. Rumsfeld mentioning the prisoner- abuse scandal at a commencement address at West Point.

The lead, in other words, is not the graduation that is supposedly being reported, but rather Mr. Rumsfeld's failure to resign in the face of events that happened weeks ago. How is Mr. Rumsfeld's not resigning news? It's mentioned in this story only because the reporter does not want to let go of it.

This is bulldog journalism: Once you get hold of a story, you never loosen your grip until your victim dies--at least politically.

Does it happen to everybody? Or just Republicans? Well, try this fictitious opening paragraph: "Senator Hillary Clinton, making no mention of the $100,000 she once made by trading cattle futures with astonishing perfection, told a cheering crowd of activists that President Bush's globalist economic policy is hurting poor people in other countries and costing American jobs."

Nope. You've never seen it, and you never will. Because bulldog journalism only goes one way in our "unbiased" mainstream media.

Mr Card is very smart. This is an effective method to deceive without a simple lie. Rush Limbaugh actually referred to a variant of it on his show recently: make a charge, without any evidence, and say that the charge is so serious that it warrants investigation nonetheless. Then, the story becomes, " X is charged with crime Y", and the fact that there is no evidence can be ignored, if the newspaper or TV show so chooses. All that is necessary is to give the biased media outlet the "hook" onto which to pin the story it would like to be true.

Posted by erasmuse at July 13, 2004 10:07 AM

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