Here’s the headline and first sentence of an Associated Press article on the Denver Post‘s website:
Study shows health care opponents won in media
NEW YORK—Opponents of President Barack Obama’s health care plan decisively beat supporters in getting their message across through the media, according to a study released Tuesday.
According to the headline, opposing appeared in my other publications, I suppose someone at the Associated Press wrote it.( , 2010) is equivalent to opposing health care itself. At first I thought that the Denver Post chose the headline, but since the same headline
Defenders of the AP might say that the headline needed to be concise. But would either of the following been too long?
- Study shows health care law’s opponents won in media
- Study shows opponents of health care law won in media
- Study: Opponents of health care law won in media
I think not.
Bias need not be intentional, either. Proponents of government involvement in medicine tend to blur distinctions such as: health care vs. health insurance and health insurance vs. health coverage (pre-paid health care). If everyone in a newsroom thinks that people cannot get health care without legislation like ObamaCare, then the above headline is no surprise.
But ask yourself this: If you oppose ObamaCare and worked in the AP or Denver Post newsroom, would the headline catch your attention, and would you feel motivated to correct it?
For a systematic study of media bias, read the work of Tim Groseclose and his book Left Turn. You can get the gist of his book by watching or listening to this Cato Institute book forum. (The mp3 is downloadable.)