This front page coverage in the Boston Globe of the assassination of Iranian General and terrorist Qassem Soleimani is decent from a bias perspective, although it is more than a bit snitty. As is much of the mainstream media’s coverage of President Trump, readers are always aware of a scornful attitude and slightly inappropriate word here and there. There was just one glaring attack, so I will give this an above-average bias grade for the Globe of B-.
Here are some nitpicking examples of my concerns:
Paragraph two: “Although Trump insisted that he took the action to avoid a war…”
A better word would be that Trump asserted this. “Insisted” implies that he is being criticized and had to defend himself…and readers should be skeptical of that defense. It is like when a man on death row “insists” he is really innocent.
Paragraph three: “Speaking to reporters in a hastily arranged appearance…”
This is meant to show the Trump administration is disorganized and unprepared.
What probably happened is President Trump gave the green light to taking this bad guy out and the opportunity came up quickly and unexpectedly. How could anyone have planned a press conference under these circumstances? So this is an unfair characterization. The journalists could have written “quickly organized” if they wanted to convey speed without the biased inference.
Paragraph four: The military leaders “echoed Trump’s remarks…but…did not describe any new specific threats that were different from what…[Soleimani] had been orchestrating for years.”
The word “but” implies that they were contradicting Trump or not backing him up, but the article says they echoed Trump. Because the journalists wanted to ding the president, they downplay the generals who also stated there was a specific threat. (See Reuters story: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-usa-milley/top-us-general-soleimani-was-planning-campaign-of-violence-against-us-idUSKBN1Z222T).
I guess these journalists expect the military to provide proof of anything they say because Trump is such a liar. (This is why the media often says Trump said something “without proof.”) But providing proof could disclose classified intelligence which is a very good reason not to do so, especially during a “hastily arranged appearance.” So this criticism is unfair, especially hours after the attack.
Soleimani had been a bad actor for years which has no bearing on whether Trump acted because of a specific threat. He says he did, Secretary of State Pompeo says he did, the generals said it, and it makes sense given the Iranian provocations, the rocket attacks, the embassy attacks, and the other recent malevolent activity.
Trump also took the guy out on foreign soil, while he was visiting his proxy fighters in Iraq. Soleimani wasn’t visiting Baghdad on vacation. It was perfect timing and perfectly executed (sorry for that pun.)
Paragraph nineteen: “Trump…peddled repeated falsehoods.”
This is just a general slur and is inappropriate in a news article, period. At least it comes far enough down which minimizes the harm. Interestingly, it brings up statements Trump made as a private citizen in 2012. Here is the full paragraph:
As a private citizen, Trump repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of preparing to go to war with Iran to bolster his reelection chances in 2012. As president, Trump has questioned his own intelligence agencies and peddled repeated falsehoods, a record that could undermine the administration’s credibility on the highly delicate subject.
What Trump said back then is not germane to public policy debate, especially on such grave matters. Statements by private citizens who are not foreign-policy experts are opinions, nothing more, and are thus irrelevant.
But it is interesting that this paragraph fails to point out the “repeated falsehoods” of Trump’s predecessor, President Obama. In 2012, Obama was remarkably active on this front during his effort to get re-elected. Remember Bengazi, when Obama said riots were caused by a video? How about “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.” How about his statement during the Romney debate that Russia was not our top geopolitical threat?
Allen Nitschelm is publisher of PublicEditorMA.com. He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.
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