Monday, June 29, 2009

Media Bias - the Power of the Omiting Words

There are a lot of words in most news articles. But a news report obviously will choose excerpts from a speech for reporting purposes. The words chosen can make a big difference in the "slant" of the report.

Let's take one example from history and one from today. One historic quote that you can find on various atheist blogs is especially misleading. John Adams is quoted as saying, "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it." The whole quote is:

"Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, 'this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!' But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell."

The meaning changes and you have more background when you see the whole quote.

Now consider a very recent quote by President Obama. He is no doubt sensitive to the resistance that the voters may have to a single-payer system (i.e. government system exclusive). The President gave a speech before the American Medical Association (AMA) about health care. In that speech he said these words:

"There Are Countries Where a Single-Payer System Works Pretty Well."

But the large news outlets apparently were not anxious to report those words. None used that sentence in their coverage. Three sources were the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and the New York times. Each used the sentences before and after the quote above but skipped over that one revealing part. One used the ellipses (...), and the other two broke the quoted portion with a few editorial words, and then continued, skipping over the words above.

Read more detailed coverage here:

Obama: ‘There Are Countries Where a Single-Payer System Works Pretty Well’

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