Media bias can show up in subtle ways

January 20, 2019

Read this paragraph, please:

This is from a recent TIME magazine issue, in an article about how Maine Senator Susan Collins (R) is one of the last moderates left in the Senate. The “jagged weeks” mentioned is a description of the time immediately after she voted to confirm Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court.

The article says Collins dealt with

  • coat hangers mailed to her office as a symbol of back-alley abortions
  • phone calls threatening murder
  • phone calls wishing her staffers would die during abortions
  • chemical scares/threats

Ask yourself: if this was a Democratic Senator and these things were being done by right-wing nutjobs, would the author have passed them off as “an onslaught of pressure” and “harassment”?

I don’t think so. In that case, it would probably be described as “right-wing attacks,” “fascist violence” or maybe even “terrorism.” It would definitely not be described as “an onslaught of pressure.”

I love journalism. I hate the way our current president (and his predecessor) attacks journalists. I think the work that our press does is utterly critical to a strong democracy. But I also hate how so many of them let their personal biases slip into their work.

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