B-I-A-S: Media Largely Ignore Spelling Bee Champ's Homeschooled Status
(14:50 EDT) Video of Tim Russert misspelling "Iraq" at bottom of post.
When California homeschooler Evan O’Dorney, 13, won the National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, the nation’s press reacted with a yawn.
Instead of focusing on the winner, The New York Times ran a story about an immigrant from India who lost in the second round of the competition. That boy, Kunal Sah, 12, who is living in Utah, had hoped a victory would secure his family’s legal status in the United States. Thus, the Times managed to use the National Spelling Bee as one more forum for pushing the plight of immigrants.
Not until the middle of the story did The Times get around to announcing the winner, noting only his name and hometown and the fact that the AP reported his victory.
Meanwhile, USA Today and The Washington Post chalked up Evan’s triumph to his penchant for eating fish right before each round. The Post’s Elissa Silverman, in “The Sweet Spell of Success,” ignored completely the fact that Evan is homeschooled, and noted that Evan liked to eat tuna sandwiches from Subway. That’s right. The subheadline reads: “Fueled by Tuna Sandwiches, California Teen Tops 300 students.”
On CBS, "Early Show" host Russ Mitchell interviewed Evan and his parents, but home schooling never came up. Same with Al Roker’s and Meredith Vieira’s interview with the family on NBC’s "Today" show.
ABC's "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, on the other hand, was right up front about Evan’s education during an interview this morning with him and his parents, introducing Evan’s mother as his “homeschool teacher and coach.”
More fish, anyone?
For a fuller item on this, check the MRC's Culture and Media Institute Web site.
Update (Ken Shepherd | 14:50 EDT): Seven years ago the National Spelling Bee winner was also homeschooled, but as NB editor Brent Baker noted, of the three major networks, only CBS ignored that fact in their coverage.