Adverbs and Anxiety: A Recipe for Media Bias

A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points … have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.

The Press As Sovereign

President Trump falsely claims fraud in vote counting.

Trump falsely [not in accordance with truth or fact ] claims fraud ….

Trump alleges [to claim or assert that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically without proof] fraud ….

Joe Biden has been truthfully accused of acting inappropriately toward women.

Georgia has been truthfully accused of committing election fraud by Trump attorneys.

The Press As Boogeyman

  • Sensationalism — the use of exciting or shocking language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement.
  • Yellow Journalism — journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.

Once within a story or article, you-the reader-are afforded the freedom to judge words rightly and wrongly, to research beyond the printed word (a studied exercise everyone should habituate). However, the yellow headline doesn’t afford the reader this freedom because it isn’t the story itself … it’s a fragment, a whisper, a disingenuous microcosm, a mesmerizing flash of hypnotism.

These things are like surface water to depth: to accurately measure the latter, one has to dive beyond the former. A sensational headline can’t be judged on its own merit because one must first walk through the sensational, into the story itself, and then judged backwards. There’s an unfairness to this, a trickery played upon the reader. And it’s a black mark upon our mediaone I’m recognizing more and morethe bait-and-switch, melodrama over mere truth, yellow headlines intentionally written to fool and (let’s hope not) to bias the reader.

Some people in this country, including those in the highest echelons of our government, like Scott Atlas, the Stanford radiologist who now sits on the coronavirus task force, have done everything they can to play down the danger of the virus in the United States.

  1. Why the open ended question? Why not a simple (and fact-based) sentence?[3]
  2. And why the leading (and frightening) suggestion (i.e., “many Americans are about to die!”)?
  • To quietly enter and shout “I’m here to deliver lunch,” or
  • To quietly enter and shout “How many Americans are about to die?”

The Press As Shepherd

How many dissenters are about to die?

A new analysis shows that ….

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.George Washington

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.Edward R. Murrow

Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.Isaiah Berlin

There is truth in the old saying, that if you make yourself a sheep, the wolves will eat you.Benjamin Franklin

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.Possibly Benjamin Franklin

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store