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Thursday, September 26, 2002
Taking sides
Another example of New York Times bias: there's a dispute between the president and Congressional Democrats over the Homeland Security bill. Bush wants more flexibility in his ability to fire employees in the new department. Democrats want more restrictive rules. Republicans characterize this as a fight over national security. Democrats characterize this as a fight for workers' rights. The Times' take on the matter? Bush Is Thwarted on Worker Rights in Security Dept. Measure. While the article does present Bush's side of the argument, it portrays his viewpoint as merely his viewpoint:
...an administration that sees such a transformation of federal work rules as vital to national security.

The White House said the Senate agreement would erode the president's authority and was unacceptable.
Meanwhile, the Democrats' position is treated as legitimate, as in the headline, and elsewhere:
Today's breakthrough on the worker rights issue may finally get the department approved by the Senate in the next few days, but it could make it more difficult to forge an eventual agreement with the White House, assuming that the president follows through on his veto threat.
It could have been described as "the national security issue" or "the presidential authority issue." But not by the Times.

This is why discussions of media bias are so fruitless. The bias (usually) does not come in the form of false reporting or outright editorializing. It arises in the way issues are framed. That's not going to show up in Nexis searches which catalogue the use of labels like "liberal" or "conservative." But it's clear when you read the stories.

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