Friday, December 08, 2006

Same Story, Different Spin

Being obsessive, I subscribe to breaking news e-mail alerts from various news sources.

Two of these just came in, one from CNN and one from MSNBC, and I had to shake my head at the seemingly conflicting headlines:

From CNN:
Panel: Leaders did not break rules in Foley matter.

From MSNBC:
House panel: GOP leaders negligent in protecting teen pages.

Further reading revealed that both headlines were accurate; the panel did say there was negligence but that no “rules” were broken.

The obvious conclusion is, the rules need to be changed. Perhaps when they were drawn up, the possibility of members of congress pursuing inappropriate relationships with under-age pages was not foreseen; but it’s now a fact and, sadly, needs to be addressed even though such an issue really does insult the integrity of anyone in public service.

Beyond that, I was amused at the predictable but blatant spin accorded the news by these two sources. The story, from Associated Press, was clearly the same one although written a little differently by each site. I suppose they get a raw feed of information, or something, and then edit it. The spin mostly took place in the headlines referenced above and in the more complete headline on the story pages:

CNN: Panel: Leaders negligent, broke no rules in page scandal

MSNBC: House Ethics finds GOP leaders negligent - with subtitle, in smaller font: Republicans did not break any rules in Foley-Congressional page scandal

Interestingly (to me, anyway) Fox News had a more balanced front page headline:

AP: Ethics Panel Says No Rules Broken, GOP Negligent in Foley Scandal

but titled their full story,

No House Members Broke Rules in Ex-Rep. Foley's Congressional Page Scandal,

and toned down the word “negligence” to “could have done a better job” in the report.

Kind of not the same thing, I think.

For news consumers the message is, get your information from a variety of sources, try to separate facts from opinion, and let it all settle in your own mind, from which the whole story will eventually emerge, or as close to it as is possible.

Or if that takes too long, just read my blog.