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Supremely Slanted

The ConWeb turns its bias loose on recent court rulings that didn't go the way it wanted.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/30/2003

We're pretty sure we've said it before, and we'll say it again: The ConWeb is pretty biased considering how much time it complains about the media bias of others. That bias popped up yet again last week during coverage of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that did not go the way conservatives -- and the ConWeb -- wanted.

It should be no surprise that the winner in the most-ludicrously-slanted story category in this particular competition is NewsMax with its June 23 story by Chuck Noe on the decision overturning the points-based admissions system at the University of Michigan but upholding an admissions system at the University of Michigan law school in which race can be taken into account.

Noe shows where his bias is fairly early by repeating the dishonest comparison often used by conservatives that while certain races received 20 points "just for existing," a perfect admissions-test score received "only 12 points." What Noe doesn't report is that a perfect 4.0 high school GPA is worth 80 points, which would have damaged his polemic. (Not to mention that being a "legacy," having a parent who previously attended the school, is worth 4 points.)

Nowhere in Noe's article is the term "affirmative action" used; he prefers terms like "discriminatory" and "prejudiced." He quotes President Bush "a statement 'applauding' the rulings." And the quotes and statements he attributes to Democratic presidential candidates are not reaction to the ruling but merely alleged past statements in which he claims they "vowed to support racial quotas," despite the fact that the University of Michigan did not involve quotas and, indeed, racial quotas have been banned since the Baake case, which the Supreme Court decided in 1978.

WorldNetDaily responded to the affirmative-action ruling by making Les Kinsolving try to bait White House press secretary Ari Fleischer by asking: "Does the president care about the historic plea that 'someday, my children will be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin'?", meanwhile, weighed in with two stories on the issue by Robert Bluey, one in which conservatives whine about how horrible it was that affirmative action wasn't overturned, the second which attempts to look at the "future of affirmative action," according to the story's headline, but critics are given much more space than supporters are. (CNS, however, does have the syllabi from Michigan-related rulings on its Web site, and the two stories link to them.)

Still, that's more balanced than CNS' June 26 story on the court's decision overturning a Texas law banning homosexual sodomy. The editorializing headline on Bluey's story reads, "Court Uses 'Flimsy Principle' to Strike Down Texas Sodomy Law"; CNS has a problem with editorializing in its headlines, a no-no everywhere else in journalism. (If you're going to write a headline with a like that, adding "conservatives say" at the end would keep it from being as slanted.) Again, critics of the ruling get more ink than supporters do.

NewsMax stuck mainly to its " Wires" (read UPI, the only wire service NewsMax subscribes to), so the basic stories are generally balanced. The first wire story NewsMax posted adds a comment from a conservative legal group, and the byline helpfully adds "and"; the second seems to add a little bit of that old-fashioned bias enhancement NewsMax is known for. A subhead above a section referring to the Michigan rulings reads "Equal Protection (Except for Whites and Asians)", and the copy below reports that the court "ruled Monday that colleges may discriminate against those of European and Asian descent." We suspect that UPI didn't write that, but we don't know for sure since we can't find an unadulterated UPI story to compare it to.

WorldNetDaily devotes more time to pushing its slant on this issue than it did in the Michigan cases. In one story, writer Art Moore quotes three critics of the ruling (and devotes five paragraphs to quoting dissenting rulings compared to two paragraphs quoting from the prevailing ruling) before a supporter of the decision is quoted in paragraph 18.

WND also trots out the one-source wonder, Jon Dougherty, to do a story. Miraculously, he appears to use more than one source this time. Dougherty follows Moore's lead and likewise quotes three critics of the ruling -- one of which is copied verbatim from Moore's story, thus following Moore's lead a little more than he probably should -- before he quotes a supporter. And only five paragraphs of Dougherty's 28-paragraph story are related to support of the ruling; almost all of the rest feature critics.

And this is the same ConWeb that complains about media bias?

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