There are a lot of liberals out there who think that the media is not biased in their favor; indeed, they think that the major media are play things of the government, and are handling the Republicans with kid gloves.
Exactly how liberal (or conservative) individual publications are varies of course, and I do not mean for the following examples to serve as an indictment of all media. Or even all of CNN, since both of these articles came from the Associated Press.
A few days ago, CNN ran the following story on its home page: Bushes Report $822,126 Income. It summarizes the Bushes joint gross earnings of $822,126, the $227,490 they paid in taxes (which according the article, means 28 percent of their saleries went to taxes).
Then today, CNN ran another story, this one about John Kerry’s taxes. Kerry Tax Bill — $90,575. The article states he made $395,338, and paid $43,735 in taxes, or about 23 percent of his income.
So what’s my problem with this? Well, compare the headlines. The first talks about how much money the Bushes made — the second talks about how much Kerry paid. The same holds true with the leads (the opening sentence for each story) — the Bush story focuses on his income, the Kerry story focuses on his taxes.
The not-so-subtle message I get from this is that the Republicans make money, while it’s Democrats who do their civil duty and actually pay the taxes. It is the mantra of the liberal left writ large — the rich don’t pay taxes, everyone else does. Of course, the funny thing about that is, not only did the Bushes pay more in taxes in absolute terms ($227,490 vs $43,735) they also paid a higher percentage of their salaries than Kerry did — 28 percent as opposed to 23 percent. But remember, it’s those rich Republicans who aren’t “paying their fair share” and are giving all those poor folks the shaft.
These stories most likely weren’t written by the same reporter, which would point to a specific bias on behalf of the reporter. The process is also probably largely automated, but I’m willing to bet that somewhere at CNN there’s an editor who controls exactly what AP stories end up on the front page — I’ve saw the raw AP newsfeed when I was a reporter, and there must be some winnowing process at CNN to get stories on to the front page … and if there isn’t, there should be.
But even admitting all this, the facts remain. One feeds into the stereotype of fat cat Republicans, while the other reinforces the idea of the humble Democratic servant. I suppose I should be happy that the true facts are there for those willing to look for them … but then again, so is the bias.