Immigration and clueless media coverage

I could have put this in at the end of the previous post, but I thought it deserved its own.  The Washington Post story I linked to that details the failure of the immigration legislation is an absolutely classic example of how reporters distort the story in order to prove just how objective they are.  What we call “he said, she said” bias.  Basically, reporters figure if they blame both Democrats and Republicans equally nobody can accuse them of bias when sometimes one side is much more truthful than the other.  That's a bias against the truth.  In this article, it really seems that both parties doomed the legislation.  Here's the lede:

The most dramatic overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in a
generation was crushed yesterday in the Senate, with the forces of the
political right and left overwhelming a bipartisan compromise
[emphasis mine] on one of
the most difficult issues facing the country.

While this is certainly technically true, as both Democrats and Republicans voted to defeat the measure.  The larger truth that this was really a defeat at the hands of Republicans, does not appear until much later in the story:

The outcome was a major blow to Bush, dealt largely by members of his
own party. The president made a last-ditch round of phone calls in the
morning to try to rescue the bill, but with his poll numbers at record
lows, his appeals proved fruitless. Thirty-seven Republicans voted to
sustain the filibuster, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with 15 Democrats and liberal Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.). Thirty-three Democrats, 12 Republicans and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted to cut off debate and move to a final vote.

The first sentence of that paragraph would have been a much more honest way to present the story.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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