Textbook example of media bias from the AP and Boston Globe

Textbook example of media bias from the AP and Boston Globe

PE Bias Grade : F

By: Allen Nitschelm on August 14, 2020 | Article Review, Investigative Journalism

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
Article Title Trump admits he's blocking postal cash to stop mail-in votes
Date 08/14/2020
Article Link Boston Globe ( Page A2 )
Syndicated From Associated Press
Journalist Anthony Izaguirre
Deb Riechmann
Article Summary

AP article offers unproven motives for Trump’s actions on postal service funding increase.

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The Boston Globe ran a purposely false story on page 2 of today’s paper in which it claimed that President Trump is blocking an increase in funding to the US postal service because he fears that it will lead to his losing the election.

Unfortunately for the Globe and the Associated Press, which created this Fake News story, Trump said no such thing. Instead, he offered several reasons why he was against “universal mail in voting” as opposed to “absentee voting,” which is also done through the mail but which he supports.

Of course, it is possible that Trump is taking this stance because he thinks a massive surge in votes will help his opponent. Or, he may be concerned with massive surge in fraud, or with a lengthy delay in declaring a winner–both of which he did say. But the journalists writing today’s piece are imagining that the real reason behind Trump’s opposition is his fear of losing the election, and that theory is not based in fact but in wishful thinking and it is a great example of media bias.

I did some research on this because the example of journalistic malpractice was so clear. First, I watched the video (an interview Trump had with Maria Bartiromo of Fox News)  in which this issue was discussed at length. Here is the direct link to this interview: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-seeks-to-starve-post-office-to-limit-mail-in-voting. (The discussion takes place in the first half or so.)

At no time did President Trump say he wanted to restrict mail-in voting because he thought it might hurt his electoral chances. Not once. Yet he did offer other reasons: the possibility of widespread fraud, and lengthy election-result delays. And he provided examples of both, including thousands of missing ballots for the first, and recent mail-in elections which still haven’t produced winners weeks later in NY and NJ for the second. Despite offering “evidence” (which the media is so quick to demand, and then ignores it when it is provided), nowhere in the AP story are these other concerns even mentioned. So the journalists are violating another rule, which is providing balanced arguments from both sides of an issue.

Instead, the AP makes another journalistic error, when it characterizes Trump’s claim that “Democrats” want universal mail-in voting as “false.” Actually, politicians routinely ascribe motivations to their opponents, and so long as it is clear that this was Trump’s opinion, his opinion cannot be “false.”

Universal mail-in voting and absentee voting are both done by mail. But the universal voting is where a city or state just sends out blank ballots to all the voters on file and allows them to fill them out and send them back, with no accountability.

The media tries to obscure this difference which is important. We have had successful absentee voting with little fraud for decades, but universal mail-in voting is fairly new and there have been many problems already, but nothing like what would happen with a national election.

I tried to contact the lead journalist directly to comment on her biased report and wanted to get her response. Perhaps I missed Trump’s admission somewhere? (I have looked at several other links and of course found nothing.) I sent an email to the AP asking for the reporter’s email address and have not heard back. If I do get a response, I will update this article accordingly.

This article gets an “F” for media bias because it is presenting as news a conjecture by the reporters, one which they think reflects negatively on President Trump.

Hiding a false conclusion among true news

Much of this article is factual and true. Readers assume that journalists will follow their rules when presenting information to the public. If they state something as fact, they must have the evidence somewhere.

Sometimes, journalists cite opinions. It is factually true to quote someone else, even if the person being quoted is offering their opinion. Journalistic rules require that anyone quoted be identified, especially if their opinion might be biased. And if one biased opinion attacks someone, they should find a second opinion that differs.

It is true that President Trump wants to block increases in the postal service’s budget because he doesn’t want to fund universal mail-in voting. But instead of reporting Trump’s stated reasons–and then, perhaps, finding a Democrat to counter with the theory that Trump’s real motivation is losing the election–the AP skips all that and just advances its own theory, with apparently no basis.

How Fake News propagates

AP is a syndicator of news. They offer subscriptions to TV and radio stations, newspapers, and online media who can run the AP stories in their local news operations. I looked at how many companies used this underlying AP article and after counting a few dozen I stopped scrolling.

So when the AP publishes a news article with a false conclusion unsupported by any stated facts (and none that I could find online either), it is used or published by hundreds of media operations around the country and the “fake news” is spread.

How do people read this?

If a reader reads today’s article, and they are of the Leftist bent, they will assume their news is following journalistic practices. Most Republicans know that the mainstream media has become quite biased and their journalistic tenets are routinely disregarded. But the Left still believes.

So when readers read that the alleged reason Trump is blocking increases in post-office funding is because he doesn’t want to lose the election, they will accept this as a fact because it is reported as such. Readers cannot make the distinction between a Democrat-inspired theory and “the truth.” If reported by the AP, they will assume it is true. Journalistic integrity requires the reporters to have proof that Trump believes this. And this is how the mainstream media manipulates voters into supporting the Left.

[NOTE: The Boston Globe did not link to their version of the AP story, but we found a link on the AP website to their original reporting which we used in our article link in our green box. Here is that link: https://apnews.com/14a2ceda724623604cc8d8e5ab9890ed. Also, our “investigative journalism” pieces are opinion pieces by the Publisher which typically involve further research or outreach directly to reporters for their feedback.]

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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.

NOTE: We have been very active on our Facebook page for Public Editor Press. The page is getting lots of hits and comments, which have been very helpful. I urge readers to go there if you wish to participate or read reactions from others. You will need to “login” to Facebook to post your own comments but you can probably read them without a Facebook account. Here is the direct link to this article’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/390560688135747/posts/907007936491017

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