A Short Lesson in Media Bias (Or Something Like It)


Pentagon Confirms Koran Incidents: 'Mishandling' Cases Preceded Guidelines Established in 2003

That's the Wash Post's headline on the latest from the Koran/toilet story. That headline appeared on page 1 of today's paper, above the fold in the top righthand col.

'No Credible Evidence'on Koran Story: Gitmo inmate conceded he was merely repeating a prison rumor"

That's the Wash Times headline covering the same story. It appeared on page A9.

I wouldn't necessarily call this bias on either news org's part, but it's illustrative of very different filters.

NEXT: Doctor Coburn's Genuine Boogie Woogie Travelin' STD Show (and Star Wars Copyright Infringement Suit Waitin' To Happen)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The Washington Post owns Newsweek, and it falls over itself giving “yes, but..” arguments about the crapper Koran scandal.

    Yep. Unbiased.

  2. The Washington Post owns Newsweek…Yep. Unbiased.

    As opposed to the Washington Times, which has *no* editorial mission. *cough* *cough* *moon* *cough*.

  3. Mike:

    No arguments whatsover. That’s why I read the Post instead of the Moony times, though it makes me gag.

  4. In this case, the facts pretty clearly have a Yes, But Bias.

    Sorry, Mr. Nice Guy.

  5. M1EK,

    If pretending that this was a story about plumbing is what it takes to dismiss it as an evil plot by the MSM, then that’s what people will do.

  6. joe, I own a copy of the Koran. It’s pretty big. Much bigger than the pipes in my toilet at home.

    The story is bogus and my world view remains unchanged.

  7. As near as I can tell, the two have the same stories and the same facts.

    However one seems to be saying the glass is half full the other the glass is half empty.

  8. Half Full = Only SOME of the abuses you heard about were true.

  9. Do you even know who owns the Washington Times?

    “Unification” Press Internation?

  10. I think it’s shocking and horrifying that a widely read, influential American newspaper is actually a front for a religious group with doctinaire, potentially dangerous beliefs.

    But enough about the Christian Science Monitor.

  11. joe at May 27, 2005 11:46 AM


  12. I think Tony Blankley is one of the few conservatives around who is able to reasonably present his views without sounding like an angry fool.

  13. Thoreau, brownie points all around for accuracy — they’re probably not using novelty Korans at Gitmo. But this is like claiming a defendant should be acquitted because Newsweek claimed the victim was kicked in the nuts when he was actually kicked in the stomach. The truth is a little less attention-grabbing but they’re both still assault, no matter what stupidity the newsrags descend to when they report it.

  14. Isaac,

    Re: “Huh???”

    Even the sunniest tabulation of the events is pretty freaking bad.

  15. I think some of you may be missing the point. The two articles have different focuses (foci?). The WP headline is mainly about crap like “bumping into” the Koran and incidents like that. In that regard, the headline is perhaps a bit misleading (it might make one think we’re talking about more serious incidents).

    On the other hand, the Times piece is about the fact that the toilet story couldn’t be backed up, and in fact, was probably false.

    I will say about the Post that they should get style kudos for avoiding that abominable “qur’an” spelling or whatever that Newsweek insists on using.

  16. The guy’s still an inmate, right? WTF do you expect him to say to Army investigators? Tell me what he says when he gets home.

  17. “Tell me what he says when he gets home.”

    And then I should believe him? I’m more likely to believe the people who gave him the Koran in the first place — particularly when no one has ever shown that it’s even possible get one of those bastards down a toilet anyway.

    (Although I guess you could make the argument that the gummint that would be stupid enough to hand out the books would probably be stupid enough to waste tax money by flushing it).

  18. I’m afraid I can’t give a rat’s ass what anyone does to a Koran, and I can only laugh at anyone who does. All the while reaching for my gun…

  19. Here’s a lesson on how newspapers operate for those who insist on a media bias argument:

    Headlines are usually written not by the reporter or the editor, but usually a harried copy editor with 12 other stories to spell-check, tinker with to match newspaper style and cut to fit into a layout. Which often means after the quickest of reads, they will write a headline so as to grab the reader’s eye (a.k.a. READ THIS) and also, to fit into the layout.

    It’s an art form as much as a craft. Some copy editors are good at it, others aren’t. Either way, it often also depends on how closely the copy editor reads the story.

    This is why sometimes headlines don’t match the story itself. This is also why a story may appear biased when in reality, if you read it without the headline, you’d have a different first impression than you would otherwise. And remember, it’s tough to reverse first impressions.

  20. I’m seeing alot of this logical fallacy.

    I’ve read the Washington Times on and off for years. There’s nothing overtly proselytizing about its reporting. All you’ll see is an occassional full page ad stating some Moonie propaganda. They’re hilarious too. One of them was “quotes” from deceased presidents and founding fathers speaking from the dead, saying the Sun Nguyen Moon’s teachings were fundamental for the nation’s welfare.

    Moon is a businessman first and a false-messiah second. Both the Times and the cult are money-making enterprises for him. The good business decision is to make a good paper that caters to an undermarketed ideological flavor. The bad busines decision is to alienate that market with alot of pseudo-religious BS.

    And besides, I’ve seen Times editor Bill Sammon on TV alot. Say what you will about his politics, but by no means does he come as a wild-eyed religious nut or a brainwashed cult-member.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.