Media bias?

Speaking of Popal, the Fremont, California Muslim man who ran down every pedestrian in sight, remember how quick everyone, including the mayor of San Francisco, was to reassure us that there was no evidence this was a religiously-motivated hate crime (never mind that the fellow went 40 miles out of his way to mow down people near a Jewish center)? 

Yesterday, a Muslim woman was gunned down in cold blood in the same Fremont, California.  Think everyone eagerly hasten to reassure us that there was no evidence this was a religiously motivated hate crime?  Right.  Check out the way the crime was reported:

Although police have not determined a motive for the killing, some of Ansari’s relatives said that it was a hate-crime because the victim was wearing a hijab, a tradition Muslim head scarf.

Or try this story:

 Islamic community leaders met with the Ansari family Friday and joined them in calling her death a hate crime.

 Or this:

Some relatives, however, wonder whether Ansari was targeted because of her appearance.

Ansari, a native of Afghanistan, was Muslim and usually wore a hijab, or head scarf, two relatives said.

Or this:

By Thursday night, detectives had not revealed a motive for the crime, but Hamoyon Ansari, the victim’s brother, thought it was racially motivated.

Gee, there’s no media bias at work here.  With a complete lack of evidence either way, the media rushes to reassure us that there is no evidence that a Muslim who kills does so for religious reasons and rushes to share with us speculations of family members and “Islamic cimmunity leaders” that, when the victim is Muslim, it probably was a hate crime. 

By any measure, this is an unimaginable human tragedy.  An innocent mother of six is gunned down in front of her 3-year-old child.  But what possible reason is there for the difference in coverage? 

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  1. says

    In the Chronicle today, there’s a huge spread on this–it’s nothing but “hate crime, hate crime, hate crime” for the first page–

    But when you get to the last two paragraphs, they suddenly reveal that there was another murder in this particular family’s past four years ago over a spurned relationship–

    that was a case of muslim on muslim violence–

    Like I say, you have to wade through about twelve columns and two pages before you get to that helpful bit of information–

  2. Zhombre says

    The masses must be kept calm, you see. Paranoia directed against the Muslim minority in our midst must be discouraged. Enlightened, tolerant, multicultural attitudes must be encouraged and that incipient American nativism, prone to violence and mob rule (i.e, electing Republicans) must be quashed.

  3. says

    I don’t read the Times or the Chronicle, but I’m not surprised. Ymarsakar, I’m sure you’re right about the coverage in Iraq, but Iraq is a total mess no matter how it’s reported. Just because the reporters are biased, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong or that things are going well. But I will be careful.

  4. says

    Well, if you are going to say it is a total mess and then use such sources to justify your beliefs and use them to support your explanations for why you are right, why would this exactly be ironclad considering you know the flaws in your own sources?

    There’s two levels at work here. Whether you or I believe things are going right or wrong on specifics and whether in reality things are going right or wrong in general.

    If you, for example, say things are wrong because of X, Y, and Z, and the justification for that belief you give is the news you read from so and so, then it doesn’t matter what theoretically is true or not. You still are believing in something for the wrong reasons, and therefore your methodology is wrong, therefore it will lead you to the wrong solutions and grasp of the situation.

    You already know this in the court room, Don. Does it really matter if a defendant is guilty or if the prosecution is absolutely right, if the evidence, strict methodology, and process of the system is not followed in a correct fashion? If someone is guilty and false evidence is presented to him and believed by the jury in order to convict him, why is the excuse you give that the truth is still the truth, justly affecting the judgement rendered erroneously by the jury?

    I’m sure you’re right about the coverage in Iraq, but Iraq is a total mess no matter how it’s reported. Just because the reporters are biased, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong or that things are going well. But I will be careful.

    In conclusion. Therefore does this mean that I as a jury member can use biased sources and not consider the other side, so long as I believe a person is already guilty in reality? He is guilty no matter how the evidence is presented in court? It doesn’t necessarily matter what the character of your witness is, should I the jury simply take what they are saying as truth regardless of human corruptive influences and motivations?

    Because your view of the problems in Iraq aren’t the same as what other people believe are problems in Iraq. Our information sources are different and so is the logic pathway from which we derived our conclusions.

    The reporters are wrong 90% of the time in their interpretations. Even people like Michael Totten who present a fairer picture, are mistaken in their interpretations of such things as military strategy and hardware, from which they had no true background in. Meaning, their interpretations are not necessarily false, but they are incomplete. As a lawyer knows, incomplete, usually means false if you have an adequate defense. An incomplete interpretation is vulnerable to being countered and destroyed. So when reporter’s interpretations of the facts or even their reporting of the facts are not challenged, their incomplete interpretations pass as truth just because some people might believe that Iraq is a mess and that reporters may be biased but their interpretations of the facts are correct. Just cause their interpretations of the facts are the same as yours, Don, doesn’t mean either of you have the best interpretation.

    There is a difference in saying that things are going well and the things that you say are going badly, are going well. The things that the media reports as going badly, are wrong interpretations by the media for the media, and for other people who read the media.

    For example you said that Iraq is a total mess no matter how it is reported. That’s your interpretation of the facts and it also happens to be an interpretation that the media mirrors. So would you not and the media agree on their reporting of things, and would you not find anything wrong with their interpretations because you agreed with them?

    And yet for me, that premise of yours is false and the opposite is true. Iraq is a total mess because of how it is reported. Therefore, the things you find as problems, I find as solutions. The things I find as solutions, you find as problems. It all adds up categorically as a mess, but it’s different depending upon who you ask, concerning the specifics. I think it’s a mess because of the media, the media thinks it is a mess cause of Bush, Bush thinks it is a mess cause of the jihadists, and the jihadists think it is a mess cause of the Great Satan.

    The world is a jury, and if you can convince the jury of the guilt or innocence of someone, that in itself becomes the new reality, regardless of theoreticals.

  5. jg says

    “I’m sure you’re right about the coverage in Iraq, but Iraq is a total mess no matter how it’s reported. Just because the reporters are biased, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong.”

    With all respects,I don’t think this is logical, DQ. Neither you, or any other reasonable human, can “know” about issues in Iraq if you never hear all the facts. And you aren’t; nor am I. You can’t possibly “know.”

    As an example of ‘disinterested reporting’ (well, just one of many):
    YAHOO main page TOP(2)HEADLINES at 654PM 10/22

    • At least 44 Iraqis killed across country
    • Majority of Iraqi youth wants U.S. out

    (BUT How many Americans killed in the US during same time? Or Iraqis orAmericans BORN? Or civilians killed in Dafur? Or.. but you you get the propaganda)

    Another earthshaking headline follows, a la Lancet fame. Good political campaign fodder. The actual story is more nuanced.
    In its conclusion Harman bashes the Administration, while giving aid to the terrorists. Note that she–and all of us–have free rein to all the information on Iraq we could want. Iraq mil blogs,for one, are everywhere. Politics (nakedly apparent in this story) counts for more than truth.
    Politics above country.

    That is the Iraq mess.

    ‘House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said he has been told repeatedly over the past 18 months that the situation in Iraq is difficult. But he is skeptical of polls in Iraq — positive or negative. “I don’t know how you go into an environment like Iraq and do effective polling,” he said.’;_ylt=AhLwzynmaQawSuT7oBt3HodX6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

  6. says

    You don’t do effective polling in a war zone, what you do is get approximations of regions and extrapolate the data. But regular science says the percentage of error is +5%. They aren’t factoring in the war, though. The Fog of War makes the error more than 50%. It depends. If you are just extrapolating polls taken from one neighborhood to mean that the neighborhood is so and so, then the percentage of error is very very low. But the more you extrapolate, the more the error starts going up exponentially.

    In America, somebody could poll some folks in a state, and extrapolate it to the entire state, and then extrapolate the entire state data to predict national outcome via Presidential elections, and be accurate within acceptable margins. But Iraq ain’t America, people. People doing polls in America, don’t have the experience or cultural background/political background knowledge of Iraq to extrapolate the data within the right data trends.

    The best they can do is say whether Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia like or love this or that. And even then, the error is greater than 10% either way. Cause like 10% always says they don’t know or something, lack of education and working at a job I think. But they don’t do that, they try to extrapolate it to the entire state of Iraq as if it was New York or something.

  7. Greg says

    Your point and intent, Bookworm, is to foment hard-feelings between us and them. Why? I mean, really, why? Such easy demonizing is beneath the pale of civilized discourse.

  8. says

    Greg, if you had paid attention in your Epsionage 101 class, you would have remembered to actually check for the little itty bitty details on the blog, in order to understand what is really going on.

    What is really going on , is that commentators are talking to and about DQ, which stands for Don Quixote, because Don wrote the blog post, not Bookworm.

    Book don’t even got a D in her name, people. Or a Q. Where do they train these people, jeez louis.

    If you are going to be attacking someone for what they wrote, as demonization, then you at least need to maintain standards. The world, going to the cracker cause of low standards *sigh*

  9. Zhombre says

    “Such easy demonizing is beneath the pale of civilized discourse.” Are you the same Greg who labels people reichwingers? If so, you got effing nerve.

  10. says

    Great comments, as usual. Some minimal responses:

    JJ — I had to laugh. Bookworm and I are not related. I am not Mr. Bookworm, and Ms. DQ has only posted a couple of comments on this blog, neither of which had anything to do with what I read.

    Greg — For goodness, sake, who are “us” and “them”? I’m simply saying that we should let the Iraqis vote on whether Americans should stay and on whether they should be one country or three. They should be allowed to choose. How does this “forment hard feeling” between us and them?

    JG — potentially good points, but they don’t wash. From the article about the 44 deaths:

    “In Sunday’s bloodiest attack, gunmen in five sedans ambushed a convoy of buses carrying police recruits near the city of Baqouba 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing at least 15 and wounding 25 others, said provincial police chief Maj. Gen. Ghassan al-Bawi. The recruits were returning home after an induction ceremony at a police base south of Baqouba.

    A series of bombs also ripped through a Baghdad market and bakery packed with holiday shoppers, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens, police said. The attack came a day after a massive bicycle-bomb and mortar attack on an outdoor market killed 19 and wounded scores in Mahmoudiyah, just south of the capital.”

    I seriously doubt there have been any such attacks in the United States in the last 24 hours, or the last 24 months, for that matter. The deaths in Iraq are different in kind from the deaths in America.

    Ymarsakar — I’m not about to to get in a battle of words with you. I’d surely lose as to quantity, if not quality. As best I can tell, after all of your largely philosophical analysis, you come round to agreeing that things are a total mess in Iraq, but “Iraq is a total mess because of how it is reported.” I just said it was a mess; I did not attempt to assign blame (although you could fairly conclude from my comments that I think a large part of the cause is a continued effort to force people who don’t want to be one country to be in one country without giving them any say in the matter. I don’t blame the media. Sure they may accept as true that which turns out to be misinformation. And they are always ready to sensationalize things. But attacks like those outlined above and the many bombs — suicide, roadside, etc., etc. — that have killed so many are real and reporting of them should not be suppressed. How would you have the media report these events? As for a jury, certainly they must evaluate the reliability of the witness. But they do (and should) often believe witnesses who are less that pillars of the community. Crooks most often consort with other crooks who turn out to be pretty good witnesses anyway. Take the constant bombings in Iraq. They are really happening. People are really dying by the thousands (okay, not by the 600,000s, but by far too many thousands). Several thousand American troops really have died. Just because all this was reported by an unreliable media doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen or that we should ignore it. You can philosophize and quibble all you want, but I’d suggest that your many words would be more constructively spent dealing with the real issues of what is going on in Iraq, and what we (and the Iraqis) should do about it.

  11. says

    This is the real issue, simply because what a person’s solution to Iraq depends upon where he gets his information from.

    If your information is centered around certain subjects, your solutions to the problems, Don, that you admit to be more or less globally existing, will be driven by that information.

    If you ignore the philosophy and just take whatever inconsistent picture you get from Iraq, and attempt to solve it, it is not going to work. It’s going to fragment, and you’ll have unexpected consequences, that will then turn into bigger problems that you’ll have to deal with.

    If you can’t see the problem clearly or the battlefield, then you can’t offer the right solutions to the problems. If all you see are the bombs and the deaths, then you are going to be focusing on that part. You’ll be making plans with those parts in mind, totally leaving out other considerations. In the end, your plans might even conflict with the goals of those you try to help, precisely because vital information had been left out in your planning.

    I’ve already dealt with the solutions to Iraq, here and at Neo-Neocon. So your suggestion is simply not relevant either now or in the future.

    Btw, the real issue can only be taken when the evidence hearings aren’t biased. When the prosecution and the defense counsel both have equal opportunity to ask questions of a witness and challenge evidence. You somehow know that this process is important in a court room, but you don’t apply it to Iraq.

    You could easily have said, Don, that you read military blogs or other counter-acting sources of information to the news clippings you’ve posted in the past, that highlighted the point you were attempting to make. But you did not, that was not the defense you chose.

    You are not in a situation where you have to take the information you got, however flawed, and make a judgement upon it in combat. This isn’t combat, and we have plenty of time to consider the variables and make decisions with more analysis, whether philosophical or just media based.

    Just because all this was reported by an unreliable media doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen or that we should ignore it.

    All in all, I think we shouldn’t ignore the fact that thousands have died in order to provide the media with the very unreliable news reports that they are sending out. Wars aren’t about facts, but about interpretations of those facts, how those facts operate with humans, in the fog of war, via Murphy.

  12. says

    It is not about “blame” to me. It is about causality. A leads to B, B leads to C.

    When I say something causes the other, I mean that without it, the causality chain would never have occured, and the event in question would not exist. It doesn’t mean that it was the only factor triggering the event.

    But attacks like those outlined above and the many bombs — suicide, roadside, etc., etc. — that have killed so many are real and reporting of them should not be suppressed. How would you have the media report these events?

    Report them as Michael Yon and Michael Totten has. It is not as if I agree all the time with Yon and Totten, so I’m not asking anything particularly strenous of the media that some freelancers could not do.

    I could talk about context, but it’s better to go with models of existing reporting.

    I just said it was a mess; I did not attempt to assign blame

    As far as I know, you see it as a mess because of what you see reported in the media. You have not mentioned any other sources. So, it wouldn’t be about blame to me, but about causality. What caused you to have these beliefs, and whether or not this trigger is valid for your conclusions.

    For example. Without the right information, and all of the information, how could you say that the Iraqis are not being given a say? Which Iraqis, Al Sadr faction, Sistani faction, Sunni faction, what? A simple addition of one new fragment of information that you did not have, changes the conclusion totally.

  13. says

    No, Ymarsakar, I see bombs going off daily and innocents being killed by the thousands and conclude that Iraq is a mess. No addition of any new fragment of information will change that. And I believe that the Iraqis, like all other peoples, should be allowed to determine their own destiny. And nothing will change that.

  14. jg says

    DQ: “I see bombs going off daily and innocents being killed by the thousands and conclude that Iraq is a mess.”

    But, DQ, surely you know the history of the Middle East. When and ever has it been a peaceful? That’s a hopeful future.
    Yes, America AND the Iraqis seek a civilized country. Surely you can’t deny that. I hope you will point to the many (almost none!) MSM sources reporting that tremendous effort. Hey, give YOUR OWN side and our Iraqi friends a boost!
    What I am afraid is that the terrorists are using you and others as propaganda fodder. They are attempting to SUBVERT all of us. And, I hope–not– succeeding.

    The Boston Herald takes sums it well; AND answers your argument: (from AThinker link)

    “Our media has repeatedly propagated falsehoods about what the administration and the president have said, about what was known and about what in some cases has been borne out about the threats we have faced from al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and others. This has been done to such an extent that reasonable people cannot be blamed for believing their president lied to them before committing troops to battle. To the extent that some seemingly responsible people now question whether we face any threat at all. The history leading up to the conflicts and crises we face has been repeatedly misrepresented, in a manner that undercuts the authority of a wartime president and threatens the credibility of our nation in the world — the single most important nation in maintaining stability in the world.

    The American media and the American left are now convinced Iraq is a lost cause and are doing everything they can to convince the American people of that. IT IS A PRELUDE TO WHAT COULD BECOME A SHAMLESS BETRAYAL OF THE IRAI PEOPLE AND A DISPARAGEMENT OF THE AMERICAN AND IRAQI BLOOD THAT HAS BEEN SPILLED. (emphasis mine) Regardless of whether it is for political gain or from deeply held if misguided beliefs, they are eager to take actions that, for short-term gratification, would prompt massive bloodshed far beyond what we are seeing now and plant the seeds of future wars.
    The left offered no viable plan for how they would have handled a Saddam Hussein bent on re-arming had this war not been initiated, nor have they yet offered a viable plan for ending or exiting this war…”

  15. says

    There are two kinds of disagreements for me. Either I disagree with your conclusion, or I disagree with how you came about your conclusion, your methodology in other words. In this case, I cannot really say that I agree with Don’s conclusions even though it would look similar to something I might say, because I also disagree with how Don came about his conclusions. That is why I poke at the media problem, which he brought up.

    The combinations are varied. Some have conclusions which coincide with mine, but I don’t like how they came about it, meaning I believe they want the same thing but believe in different stuff compared to my beliefs. Then there are those whose methodology is the same as mine, which I find agreeable, but end up coming up with conclusions that differ from me. Due to circumstances beyond our control.

    At the end, any logical premise that cannot be changed or found faulty with new information, Don, is a self-validating premise that is unrelated to this sphere of existence. That goes double for any interpretations based upon that premise.


  1. [...] Another thing that should prove interesting about the trial will be the media coverage itself.  As I noted, in the wake of Popal’s attack, everyone in the media and the SF Administration was swift to assure us that Islam had nothing to do with it.  That wasn’t the case two months later when, tragically, a mother of six in the same community was gunned down.  As Don Quixote pointed out, the very first supposition was that she was killed because of her religion. [...]

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