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February 12, 2011 / Political Fluency

How to Identify Bias in the News

So I was sent this article that was written on February 3rd in anticipation of Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman taking over the government from President Mubarak.

The title itself hit me right away when they identified Suleiman as a “torturer.” It was a perspective most in the news have not commented on. The article has interesting citations and re-raises  the issue of the US exporting terrorist suspects to Egypt over the past decade to be “aggressively interrogated” in a manner that would violate a person’s civil rights on American soil.

But people bringing this up again was probably obsessed with the issue of torture, waterboarding, and the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. They are likely to have breathed a sigh of relief for many reason when Barack Obama won the election in 2008; one of those reasons being he promised to close Gitmo down within his first year in office. Well, he’s been President for two years now and the detainees are still in Guantanamo with no realistic plans to shut the facility down and move the detainees to the US for civilian or even military trials.

With that said, a person must always look at the author of the piece and the institution the author is aligned with. A reader has to be mindful of the author’s perspective to help fully understand a work by the author.

Let’s look at the author of this piece:

JAMES RIDGEWAY, an occasional columnist with, is senior Washington correspondent for Mother Jones Magazine. For 30 years he was Washington correspondent for the Village Voice. He has his own blog called Unsilent Generation, where this article also appears.

Mother Jones is a bi-monthly liberal magazine that often has worthwhile articles of quality investigative journalism such as this piece on the ubiquitous “Buy Gold” sponsorships of right-wing talk radio.

The Village Voice is a weekly free paper in New York City that mostly discusses music and arts, but has a very far-left perspective politically. They even run ads in their classified section for call girls.


We shouldn’t stop there either. We can also look to the editors and colleagues of the platform a story appears. Let’s meet some of James’ colleagues. There’s nothing wrong with any of them, in fact they seem to be honest reporters, but they still have a perspective of the world and news coverage which affects the stories they choose to publish. My comments are in parentheses.

Editor-in-Chief of this Can’t Be Happening: Award-winning investigative reporter Dave Lindorff has been raking the journalistic muck now for 38 years… A regular columnist for Counterpunch, he has also written for such diverse and seemingly mutually exclusive publications as BusinessWeek (conservative), the Nation (liberal), Extra! (stupid), Treasury & Risk (conservative), and Rolling Stone (liberally stupid).



Hippy Beard

John Grant is a writer/photographer/filmmaker living just outside Philadelphia’s city limits. He shot and edited an 80-minute documentary film called Second Time Around about a seriously wounded Vietnam veteran who chose to live and work in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 35 years after his first tour there. John has been to Iraq twice during the war, once as an observer critical of the war and once as a cameraman on a documentary film.

A Vietnam War veteran for 25 years John has been an active member of Veterans For Peace. For 11 years, he was president of the Philadelphia VFP chapter. He has taught documentary photography at Widener and Drexel Universities and for nine years has taught creative writing to inmates in the Philadelphia Prison. (College professor, Iraq War critic, filmmaker – that’s very likely liberal. He deserves our thanks for serving in Vietnam)




Mo’ Hippy Beard

While not yet old enough to collect Social Security, Linn Washington Jr. has been in the news business long enough to have seen both the introduction of computers into newsrooms and the current strangling of the news media unleashed not by the rise of the Internet but largely from greedy investors whose snatching of financial resources from profit-generating news operations has crippled news gathering.

Washington grew up in Pittsburgh [and became] a columnist for the historic Philadelphia Tribune, the nation’s oldest African-American owned newspaper, Washington is also Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple, where he co-directs the Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab that sends J-students into neighborhoods in search of stories the local establishment media ignore. In addition to his Temple degrees, Washington holds a law degree from the Yale University. (So we have Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, college professor, and a lawyer. And no mention of his affiliation with the Republican party?)




Yo Hippy Beard

Charles M. Young grew up in Waukesha and Madison, Wisconsin (liberal college town). Three days before graduating from the j-school, Young entered the Rolling Stone College Journalism Contest (liberal), which he won. He has interviewed Noam Chomsky (liberal), Howard Zinn (liberal) and Beavis & Butt-Head (genius).

 “Dave, John, Linn and I are just the guys to bring down the American Empire and make a towering crapload of money in the process,” says Young. “We’re gonna make the New Journalism new all over again, and all the other blogs can eat crumbs from our table.” (“Bring down the American Empire and make money in the process” This is classic 21st century liberalism – lamenting the “American Empire” built on “greed” and capitalism, then relentlessly criticizing America with the intention of making a profit.)




Hippy Plaid


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