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Seeking Truth

How do you get the truth about the news? Read this article from ABC news and see if you can detect the bias. What is striking is that Nancy Pelosi’s name is annotated with her party affiliation. Tim Mahoney, the congressman accused of paying off his mistress to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit is not identified by political party. Do you think this is possibly because Nancy Pelosi rooting out unethical behavior sheds a favorable light on the Democrats while Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney’s behavior puts a negative cast to the Democrats? Am I just paranoid to think that if Tim Mahoney were a Republican, ABC News would be posting that “R” every time his name was mentioned? Actually, I don’t think I am paranoid. When ABC News reported on Senator David Vitter’s connection to the DC Madame they identified him as “R-Louisiana”.

The sad truth is there is very little true news reporting from any media outlet. I subscribe to both the Washington Post and the Washington Times because I hope I can read both and tease out the truth that probably lies between them. Story choices, story placements, headline choices, vocabulary, etc all color the news to advance a news outlet’s editorial agenda. As consumers of news we need to be alert to these biases. It is important to think about what a news story doesn’t say as well as what it does say. Beware “man-on-the-street” commentary. The reporter may have spoken to twice as many folks with a differing opinion, but will only include the opinion that fits the bias of his story. Beware of statistics. A local reporter expressed dramatic outrage that 50% of the county’s residents fell below the median household income reported for the county. (That is the definition of a median). Be alert to whom an outlet chooses as experts. Anyone who offers statements from the National Catholic Reporter or hosts Fr. Richard McBrien as the authentic Catholic view is not looking for the truth.

It is only going to get worse over the next few weeks. Make sure you have a large grain of salt every time an alleged news reporter speaks.

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