Major Media Bias Towards NSA Defenders
from the and-they-attack-others? dept
One of the more ridiculous arguments against Glenn Greenwald (and others, but mainly Greenwald) concerning the Snowden NSA revelations is that Greenwald is somehow “biased,” rather than an objective reporter. Of course, there’s this myth of the objective reporter out there, which in practice tends to not actually do journalism (the search for truth) but stenography (repeating what someone tells you). Too often “objective journalism” means he said/she said journalism, where equal weight is given to all kinds of ideas, no matter how ludicrous. If you’re actually searching for truth, then there’s no problem calling out something as being wrong when it is, in fact, wrong. But, even more ridiculous is that the claims of “objective media” also whitewash the fact that those media players are clearly extremely biased as well.
Take, for example, the episode of Face the Nation, which aired on Sunday, November 3rd. A major point of discussion? The Snowden NSA revelations. The guests to discuss it? Senator Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Mike Rogers, and former NSA boss Michael Hayden. Basically, those three are the biggest defenders of the NSA outside of current NSA employees. To argue that this isn’t a clear “bias” is ridiculous. But at least Greenwald is clear where he stands. CBS and Face the Nation still pretend that they’re objective.
That may be just one example, but a new study by the Columbia Journalism Review showed that major media sources were uniformly biased in favor of the government. They scoured the four largest newspapers in the US: the NY Times, USA Today, the LA Times and the Washington Post. They had a list of pro- and anti-surveillance words that they used to determine whether or not the general tone of coverage in these newspapers was to support the NSA or to be critical of it. It won’t surprise many around here to find that it was overwhelmingly supportive of the government. The major newspapers apparently aren’t that big on speaking truth to power.
USA Today led the pack, using pro-surveillance terms 36 percent more frequently than anti-surveillance terms. The LA Times followed at 24 percent, while The New York Times was at 14.1 percent. Even the Washington Post, where Barton Gellman was the first US journalist to break the news of the NSA’s surveillance, exhibited a net pro-surveillance bias in its coverage of 11.1 percent. Although keyword frequency analysis on its own is not always conclusive, large, consistent discrepancies of the kind observed here strongly suggest a net media bias in favor of the US and UK governments’ pro-surveillance position.
As CJR points out, this finding also suggests that the claim from NSA defenders that all of the hubbub over spying is merely a “media creation” may not be true either. The major media is leaning towards the NSA’s side of the debate.