It’s coming through in ‘news’ reporting

Last Sunday I was reading the article from the Associated Press that appeared on page A3, which described a battle in Afghanistan in which more than 80 Taliban were killed and only two U.S. Marines were wounded. By most standards, that would be judged a very successful engagement. Yet, the opening sentence of the article described it as “the bloodiest fighting this year.” The urge to find some kind of superlative aspect to a news story appears to be universally irresistible – it’s got to be the biggest, the most, the worst, the bloodiest … even if it’s only since last Tuesday.

Then I read the second paragraph: “The U.S. military insisted the battle was a victory that will help secure Afghanistan’s fall elections – rather than a sign of the resilience of Taliban-led militants.” I was two or three paragraphs farther along in the article before the alarm went off in my brain, and I went back and read it again. What purpose did that paragraph serve in the story? I could only conclude that it was intended to sow doubt in the mind of the reader. After all, if the U.S. military had to “insist” that the battle was a victory that would help secure the fall elections, then there must be some doubt that it, in fact, was. The reader is not told who, if anyone, is arguing that it wasn’t or what facts may support that position.

This is another example of how the pervasive bias in today’s mainstream media has moved from the editorial pages into what should be hard news reporting. I’m getting extremely tired of it, and I have a feeling a lot of my fellow Americans are as well. What frightens me is the subtlety displayed in examples like this one. I consider myself to be a pretty attentive and critical reader, and it almost slipped past my filters. I fear for the influence it has on others who may be less attentive and less critical readers.

Sid Herron


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