Thursday, August 25, 2005

What Are Words For?

For those of you in on the Missing Persons reference in the title, bravo.

Here's an idea: For everyone either alleging or denying media bias, particularly in print, count the adjectives. Pick a prominent newspaper, like the Old Gray Lady herself, the New York Times, and read an "objective" "news" story and note descriptive words. Here is an instructive exercise:

A statement of fact: "President George W. Bush nominated John Roberts to the United States Supreme Court."

Or perhaps: "George W. Bush today nominated Judge John Roberts, a former Assistant Solicitor General in the administration of George H.W. Bush and Justice Department official during Ronald Reagan's presidency, to the highest court in the land."

Now this: George Bush, ignoring the vigil of Cindy Sheehan in memory of her son who was killed in Iraq, today picked a controversial judge, John Roberts, as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court to replace the departing moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.

This type of reporting might come from the Washington Post, for example.

And then there is: George Bush, ignoring bipartisan pleas for a moderate to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, selected a conservative (and vaguely...German) justice as his nominee for the high court. John Roberts, who argued to repeal Roe v. Wade in previous Republican administrations, is sure to be a lightning rod for those who claim Bush is trying to turn the Court to the Right. When reached at home for a comment about his nomination and the vigil of Cindy Sheehan, Judge Roberts, taking a break from stomping kittens to death said..."

This would be the New York Times.

Let me emphasize again that looking at the adjectives is most helpful when reading supposedly "unbiased" news coverage, not op-ed writings. For those wanting to see how biased op-ed writers are, you need look no further than this great site.

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