CNN & Slanted Journalism

CNN & Slanted Journalism: Bye Bye Blackbird

Let’s talk about how in today’s “news reporting” clever “journalists” work their own slant into a story.  Note that I’ve put quotation marks around “news reporting” and “journalist” to draw attention to their being highly dubious and debatable terms. True “news reporting” by true “journalists” is a thing of the past. Today’s news is fraught with ideological spin and slant, as it is written by today’s journalists, who are—for the most part—propagandists with a political bias to sell.

Let me be perfectly clear (as President Nixon oft put it): facts, honesty, truth, and integrity exist but rarely and sparingly in the vast majority of “news reporting” these days. I’ll recommend what I contend are some straight shooters in future blogs.

It took me four minutes at CNN online to find an example of slanting. It took that long because I got sidetracked reading about the latest heartwarming attack on our military by the ACLU. They’re such lovely guardians of our glory. Then I wept terribly over Keith Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC. How we’ll miss his charming delusions. After drying my eyes, I clicked the “politics” page where I found some delectably fine fare there for my illustration on slanting the news. Check this out, my friends:

In his article entitled “Justice Scalia set to address Tea Party Caucus on Capitol Hill,” Bill Mears manages to a) disparage Scalia, conservatives, the Tea Party movement, and all those Americans who are like-minded, while b) never once directly or explicitly doing so. It’s a virtuoso performance of slanting the news in your political direction, which in Mears’ case is left, as in liberal/progressive—in lock step with CNN’s own corporate “culture” and mission. [For the record, readers, it matters not my position on these issues. Frankly, I’m leaning apolitical anymore. Too damn much rhetorical nonsense from all parties in the public conflicts. Thus, I readily admit that the same analysis could be performed on a conservative’s writing.]

So, let’s get to the foundation and fundamental task of critical thinking and analytical writing: supporting your base opinions with golden facts. By the way, all the editors on the staff of my dissertation editing service look for and note for our clients such slanting in the work they’re editing.

I’ve pasted a couple of passages from Mears’ article and commented [IN BRACKETED CAPS] below:

Justice Antonin Scalia, a popular and entertaining speaker at various forums around the world, has one of the busiest schedules off the bench. [WHAT A LEAD SENTENCE. NOTE THE SARCASTIC TONE AND IMPLIED CRITICISM OF HIS ADJECTIVES “POPULAR AND ENTERTAINING,” AS IF A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE A LIFE “OFF THE BENCH.”] But a closed-door address [“CLOSED-DOOR” SOUNDS NEFARIOUS AND SNEAKY, WHEREAS “CLOSED-DOOR” ADDRESSES AND MEETINGS ARE THE NORM IN WASHINGTON AND EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD OF POLITICS, BUSINESS, AND PERSONAL LIVES. DON’T YOU CLOSE YOUR OWN DOOR WHEN YOU WANT TO TALK PRIVATELY WITH YOUR FRIENDS?] the conservative justice is scheduled to give Monday afternoon has attracted controversy, partly because of who is sponsoring the event….


…The event was designed as a “teaching event” only for members of Congress, and no cameras or reporters would be allowed to cover it. [AGAIN, THIS IS COMMON PRACTICE, BUT MEARS MAKES IT SOUND SOMEHOW WRONG TO DO.] Scalia’s scheduled one-hour topic will be “separation of powers.”…


…The Tea Party movement, a populist grass-roots coalition with mostly politically conservative members, has [GRAMMATICAL ERROR: OBVIOUSLY THERE SHOULD BE A “BEEN” IN HERE] growing in popularity in the past few years. The various affiliated groups had some success electing members of Congress in the November midterms [“…HAD SOME SUCCESS…”?! THAT’S QUITE A LIBERAL SLANT ON IMMEDIATE HISTORY. FOR THE TEA PARTY SUPPORTERS, THE ELECTION WAS A LANDSLIDE, WHICH IS SIGNIFICANTLY MORE THAN “SOME SUCCESSS.”] who shared many of the positions on taxation, budget deficits and constitutional interpretation.

And so it goes.

You might be thinking, so what? What’s wrong with Mears being a bit opinionated, sarcastic, or critical? Here’s what’s wrong with it: there’s a big difference between reporting the front page news and slanting that news.

  • It’s the difference between journalism and commentary, between straight news stories and opinionated columns, between clinically objective studies and blogs.
  • It’s the difference between informing and disinforming; between teaching people to think and teaching them what to think.
  • It’s the difference between most blogs and this blog. Here I stick to the facts.

Alas, many people hate facts that disprove their precious opinions. And then they transfer that hate to the one who stated the facts. So I might not be too popular right now.

So it goes.

There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.

But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

— Bob Dylan, “All Along the Watchtower”

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