Thursday, February 06, 2020

LA Times Headlines Help Promote Partisan Divide

The media have been painting a picture of partisan divide.  There's no question there is one.  Fox News, Donald Trump, and others have been fanning the flames of racial, social, and political divide for years.

But millions of Republicans and Democrats meet regularly at family celebrations, at work, in the military, at garden clubs, and tens of thousands of other venues daily.

The metaphors of war have infected (a metaphor of disease) our discourse.  And the media play a large role by perpetuating this idea.  Here are two examples from the front page of the LA Times paper edition today.

I expect more of the Los Angeles Times, but here's a headline today:
Reeling Biden goes on attack
But in the actual article, here is what they said he did:
“I have great respect for Mayor Pete and his service to this nation, but I do believe it’s a risk — to be just straight up with you for this part — to nominate somebody who’s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana,” he said of Buttigieg.

As for Sanders, Biden said that if the Vermont senator were to win the nomination, Democrats “up and down the ballot … will have to carry the label that Sen. Sanders has chosen for himself. I don’t criticize him, he calls himself a democratic socialist.”
For the Democrats, going on attack means, I guess, making factual statements about one's opponents and raising your concerns in the most deferential way that his opponents have some issues that may cause problems in the election.  

Just think back to the kind of statements Trump made about his primary opponents.  

I would note that I read the headline above on the hard copy version online.

Really, LA Times, if Biden's statements are  an 'attack' what do you call how Trump engages his  rivals.  There were reports the Trump team told Republican Senators their heads would be up on a pike if they defected.  And Trump Jr. tweeted immediately after Romney defected, that Romney should be purged from the Republican Party.  That was followed by a nasty video from the Trump camp on Romney.  Now that's more like an attack.  

If Trump Jr. had 'attacked' like Biden, he would have said, "I respectfully disagree with Romney's vote on Article I."

Another headline - also on the front page of the LA Times - says: 

The big winner:  Partisanship
 A poll before the vote on witnesses said that 70% of voters wanted witnesses and more documents reviewed by the Senate.  That's just one sign that things are not as partisan as the media pundits suggest.   We all see what we are looking for and miss what we aren't looking for.  That's a common human trait.  The media are just lots of people, so it's natural for them too.  But professional members of the media, like professional attorneys and doctors and scientists, are supposed to be trained to overcome those natural biases.  To look beyond the obvious and to question their own biases.

I'd note that as I sought links to these articles I found that the web versions of the articles had very different, more accurate headlines:

Reeling Biden Goes On Attack 
As some backers panic, Biden scrambles to save his campaign in New Hampshire
The big winner:  Partisanship
News Analysis: Trump’s impeachment and acquittal please partisans on both sides

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