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Friday, July 10, 2009
CNS' Lucas Still Taking Walpin's Side
Topic: vowed to "cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission." CNS reporter Fred Lucas is fulfilling that mission, though perhaps not in the way the mission statement intended.

We've already noted how his report on a congressional committee report glossed over its partisan nature, failed to seek responses to it, and ignored that parts of the report appeared to contradict established facts. That's largely bias by omission.

Lucas' July 9 article on the case of ousted AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin, by contrast, is largely bias by commission:

  • His statement that "Obama fired Walpin in June, after Walpin’s probe showed that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, an Obama supporter who ran the AmeriCorps-funded, non-profit St. Hope Academy misused more than $800,000 in AmeriCorps grants" falsely suggests a cause-effect relationship that has not beenproven to be factual.
  • Lucas demonstrates whose side he has taken in noting that the AmeriCorps officials "have sent the Senate committee documents intended to discredit Walpin." How does Lucas know that those officials "intend to discredit Walpin"? He doesn't -- he's trying to read minds, divining intent he has no way of actually quantifying.

Lucas engages in bias by omission here as well. He interviews Walpin and a congressman who supports him, but no Walpin critics. He references the Washington Post as his source for the claim about AmeriCorps officials are supplying "documents intended to discredit Walpin," but he doesn't inform his readers that the Post has also posted those documents online.

Further, as he has done before, Lucas failed to reference a letter by acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown that accused Walpin of withholding exculpatory evidence from the attorney's office in the Johnson investigation, that Walpin made pronouncements to the media before discussing them with the attorney's office, and that Walpin's "actions were hindering our investigation and handling of this matter."

We thought CNS was supposed to counter the bias of other media, not create bias of its own.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 AM EDT

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