Media bias (or really bad news editing) punched me in the face this morning

Media bias (or really bad news editing) punched me in the face this morning

I woke up this morning to this breaking news banner alert on my phone: “‘He would go down fast and hard’ — Donald Trump threatens former vice president Joe Biden with physical violence”.

Fascinated, I tapped the link, and it took me to a Sky News article titled “Trump threatens former VP Biden with physical violence” by Andy Hayes, “News Reporter”. It’s a mercy that I read on. It was as though I had entered a gothic cathedral and walked through the ornamented vestibule only to find a McDonald’s PlayPlace inside.

The third paragraph says this: “It follows comments from Mr Biden, who said he would ‘beat the hell’ out of the President if they were in high school together and Mr Trump disrespected women.” It adds that this wasn’t the first time Biden said such a thing. In October 2016, he asserted “that if he and Mr Trump were in high school, he would take him ‘behind the gym’.

V0050236 A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Pea Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Peachum and Lockit. Coloured lithograph by H.B. (John Doyle), 1837. 1837 By: John DoylePublished: 22 October 1836 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

After reading the entire story (as well as reporting by other media), I see that Biden — twice — talked publicly about assaulting Trump and that Trump responded by saying he would fight back and win.

This blog post is not about Trump or Biden or what they said about each other; it’s about how this was reported. The headline is not indicative of the whole story or what should be its main point. I hadn’t received a breaking news alert about what Biden said, even though it was far worse than what Trump said.

What should the headline have been?

If we all put down our tinted glasses for a minute, we would quickly agree that physical violence, unless it is in defense of one’s self or another, is morally and legally wrong (it’s an extra no-no when the victim is the president of the United States). This is what Biden hypothetically threatened twice. Defending one’s self or another from such violence is not wrong. This is what Trump spoke of doing. Yet, Trump’s remark was handled as breaking news and presented woefully out of context to make Biden look like the victim instead of the instigator (and vice versa).

Here’s why I’m writing this: I ask that you do these things as information comes your way:

  • Don’t assume that what you hear is true. An increasing amount of “news” isn’t.
  • Read beyond the headlines. Hold your judgment until you have all the facts, and realize that you might never have that luxury.
  • Be aware of bias — even if it’s unintentional, and even if it’s your own.
  • Listen to multiple sources.
  • Think for yourself. Don’t just consume; don’t just react.
  • Even if an opinion or bias leans your way, don’t tolerate deception.

I’m not here to defend Trump; I often don’t. I’m here to defend the truth. “At the length truth will out.” I believe that. I also believe that we must accelerate it whenever we can.

⇒ Do you see bias here? Where do you see it? Please add your thoughts below.

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