Anatomy of a Biased Headline: Part III

Today’s version of our exercise, in which we dissect the media’s attempts at interjecting bias into a simple headline, may stun some of you. The shocking aspect? The Washington Post didn’t partake in the liberal doctoring of the headline. Let’s take a look… The Pentagon just released a report entitled ‘Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,’ which highlights a decline in violence in the country in 2008. Surprisingly enough, the WaPo ran this headline:
Violence Declines Further in Iraq
While positive news in a Post headline is a bit hard to believe, they did include the following sub-headline, managing to interject that ol’ liberal pessimism we’re more accustomed to:
Pentagon Report Cites Factors That Could Rekindle Attacks
That said, we have to give them some credit for combining the positive and negative into one headline, making it less biased than their competitors. Observe… Agence France-Presse took this out of the report, demonstrating that most glasses in the AFP break room are probably half-empty:
Iraq still locked in 'communal struggle:' Pentagon report
Our good friends at the San Francisco Chronicle crank it up a notch, making one wonder if they even have glasses, by completely ignoring the positive aspect of the Pentagon report:
Deaths increase for Iraqi forces, fall for GIs
ABC News used the AP headline which echoed that same theme:
Iraq Forces Gain More Control, but Lose More Lives
What made the AP article interesting is that they derived their headline by comparing September deaths from this year, with September deaths from the previous year, focusing on Iraqi security forces – thus the increase. Contrasting that, Reuters ran a similar article about the death toll of civilians in September, noting that the number has been halved in comparison to the previous year. It’s all in the eye of the beholder and unfortunately, most of the media turns a blind eye to good news. For example… The Houston Chronicle took the same AP article and interjected their own headline:
Baghdad fighters' deaths up over '07
What exactly constitutes a ‘Baghdad fighter’ is debatable. That term could encompass both Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces. Maybe they also include local boxers? You can only wonder where the Chronicle cherry picks their loose facts. Regardless, it really is stunning that in a sea of liberal media bias, it took the Washington Post to look on the bright side of things. As always, feel free to provide your own versions of potential biased headlines… Photo Credit: Reuters/Erik de Castro