The Hidden Hand of Media Bias, Courtesy of the New York Times

8.9.10 – Reporters may think they’re being objective and balanced when they first report and then write a story, but those of us who know the racket can spot a rigged stuss game every time. It’s not just a matter of what you put in and what you leave out, whom you talk to and whom you don’t bother to ask for comment.

It’s also the way the story is structured, and the little semiotic signals the writer (and/or editor) send to the reader that say this is what is important.  This is whom you should believe.


For Exhibit A of this process, please consider the following story:

Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition

Given that this is the New York Times, you know the paper disapproves of this phenomenon, just like its nasty little lifestyle-fascist mayor, Mike Bloomberg, a Boston-born billionaire who finagled his way around term limits in order keep a hold on Gracie Mansion. It’s Bloomberg who’s been helping to fast-track the Ground Zero mosque and therefore who, in part, is responsible for the national backlash the Times now chronicles:

In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself. They quote passages from the Koran and argue that even the most Americanized Muslim secretly wants to replace the Constitution with Islamic Shariah law.

These local skirmishes make clear that there is now widespread debate about whether the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to allow Muslims the same religious freedom enjoyed by other Americans, or to pull away the welcome mat from a faith seen as a singular threat.

Threat? Where would anybody get that idea?

Now comes a key component of the story — the first voice, which sets the tone for the story and colors and contextualizes everything that follows.  And to whom does the reporter, Laurie Goodstein, choose to give that honored position?

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August 8th, 2010

Jimmy Kilpatrick

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