Here's another one. The Los Angeles Times and Investor's Business Daily recently reported on increasingly good economic news. However, both papers spun the news in dramatically different ways. Both listed comments from three economists. But in the case of the Los Angeles Times, the paper managed to find pessimistic economists who downplayed the news, and added a big "but." One said, "But we'll have to wait and see about jobs," and another said, "But in 2004 . . . that's going to fade." One found no such qualifying "buts" from the economists quoted in the Investor's article.
Californians, of course, face a gubernatorial recall election on Oct. 7. The Los Angeles Times recently ran the following headline: "(Lt. Governor) Bustamante Has Big Lead on Schwarzenegger." Yet, only weeks earlier, the L.A. Times reported, deep in the article, that Schwarzenegger enjoyed a 45 to 22 percent lead over his nearest rival. The headline? "Davis Calls Recall an 'Insult' to His Supporters." Similarly, on Aug. 13, 2003, the L.A. Times also noted that Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoyed a 20-point lead over his nearest rival. The headline? "The Recall Campaign: Pollsters Groping for Questions; A complex campaign and a crowded field a hard one for those who weigh public opinion." So, in the L.A. Times, Cruz Bustamante enjoys a "big lead," amounting to 13 percent. Yet, the same newspaper's headlines neglect Schwarzenegger's even "bigger" lead of 20 points.
Want more? The "Today" show's Katie Couric questioned California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger's father's Nazi past. Yet, Democratic lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante once belonged to an organization called MEChA, with the following goal: Reclaiming Aztlan -- which they roughly define as the "stolen" Southwestern states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Utah -- for the Chicano (or indigenous) population. Their own literature states, "We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks which are justly called for by our house, our land, the sweat of our brows, and by our hearts. Aztlan belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops, and not to the foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent."
Yet the media showed more interest in a 26-year-old article in which Schwarzenegger discussed his raunchy sexual behavior and use of drugs. But Bustamante's membership in an organization that contemptuously calls whites "gringos" and "gabachos," and has the stated goal of apparent military "reconquest" of the Southwest, drew comparatively less attention.
But, as Cronkite says, these examples no doubt simply reflect journalists' "open-mindedness."