Unlike the obviously flawed study that the AP, CNN, NYT et al are flogging as if it’s unvarnished truth, this study wasn’t funded by a billionaire sugar daddy with an ax to grind. It was conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech. Its results were released in November 2006 to no fanfare.
Jim A. Kuypers, assistant professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, reveals a disturbing world of media bias in his new book Bush’s War: Media Bias and Justifications for War in a Terrorist Age (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2006).
Convincingly and without resorting to partisan politics, Kuypers strongly illustrates in eight chapters “how the press failed America in its coverage on the War on Terror.” In each comparison, Kuypers “detected massive bias on the part of the press.” In fact, Kuypers calls the mainstream news media an “anti-democratic institution” in the conclusion.
“What has essentially happened since 9/11 has been that Bush has repeated the same themes, and framed those themes the same whenever discussing the War on Terror,” said Kuypers, who specializes in political communication and rhetoric. “Immediately following 9/11, the mainstream news media (represented by CBS, ABC, NBC, USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post) did echo Bush, but within eight weeks it began to intentionally ignore certain information the president was sharing, and instead reframed the president’s themes or intentionally introduced new material to shift the focus.”
It’s not hard to anticipate the reactions to this. First, silence. We’ve seen that for over a year now. Second, critics will say “The press should challenge the administration.” True, but the press shouldn’t stray into propagating falsehoods in the name of challenging any administration. And it certainly shouldn’t frame all its stories through a consistently skewed lens.
But that’s what the researchers found:
This goes beyond reporting alternate points of view. “In short,” Kupyers explained, “if someone were relying only on the mainstream media for information, they would have no idea what the president actually said. It was as if the press were reporting on a different speech.”
The most obvious case of that that springs to mind is the infamous 16 words of the 2002 SOTU. President Bush stated clearly that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” yet the press has consistently reported that Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger refuted that. It didn’t. The British still stand by their intel on that. Wilson’s own CIA debriefing tended to back that up as well.
Here’s a Q&A with Kuypers on his 2006 study. While I don’t expect any of this to counter against years of “Bush LIED” nonsense, it’s nice to see that one academic took a look at the media’s systemic and ongoing failure to report the truth without bias.