News or editorial?

News reports facts (in theory).  Editorials expound upon opinions.  Tell me if this opening paragraph if from a news story or an editorial:

The divisive debate over gay marriage, which played a prominent role in 2004 campaigns but this year largely faded from view, erupted anew on Thursday as President Bush and Republicans across the country tried to use a court ruling in New Jersey to rally dispirited conservatives to the polls.

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  • helenl

    It’s history!

  • Greg

    “Editorials expound upon opinions.”

    uh huh. That would be why your citing the WST editorial concerning the Lancet study carried so little weight.

  • Don Quixote

    Greg! Just the person I’m looking for. What is the liberal justification for starting a news article this way? And what is the liberal justification for the many news stories that essentially hide the fact that the folks rioting in France are Muslims? If Christian fundamentalists were rioting in Nebraska, do you think we would have to read deep into the story to learn that they were Christian fundamentalists? While you’re at it, how do you justify the difference in reporting of the events in Fremont I discussed last week? Thanks for joining in.

  • Ymarsakar

    This is a great example of how news and perspective should be mixed. A case for a federated union with Kurdish autonomy. The only way someone could convince me to partition Iraq, is if the Kurds would be destroyed as a consequence of a unified Iraq.

    Why people have not used the Kurdish solution as a way to further their arguments, is disappointing. Not least of all because the Kurds deserve better recognition from America. The violence in Iraq dominates the headlines, but the true story of the Kurds are buried 900 pages after the headlines.

  • Greg

    I read blogs for the fun of watching how fact and opinion become conflated into an undifferentiated smear of raw partisanship, a process that this blog is particularly good at. I used to think that the authors of this blog knew where fact ended and opinion began. Lately I’ve realized they don’t (at least, lately they don’t), which I suppose is the risk of aggressively advocating one point-of-view.

    I originally commented on Bookworms’s blog-entry because she recently committed the error for which she would crucify others. Regardless, the conservative blogger often finds themself hyperventilating over some example of media bias that verifies for them that information-distribution is manipulated by individuals whose point-of-view differs from that of the conservative. The conservative’s problem isn’t the bias but the divergence from conservative cant, which is the dynamic we see in Bookworm’s original example and in DQ’s. (Were it otherwise, the conservative blogger would discuss the media bias committed by those who share the conservative’s views, a process necessarily at odds with the partisan enterprise of conservative blogging.)

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Greg,

    You make an interesting argument, but you utterly fail to answer any of my questions. Instead, you deflect the questions, by suggesting that my motives are less than pure. That may (or may not) be true, but it begs the question. My limited experience is that the examples of media bias I find are almost universally in the liberal direction. Thus, I rarely encounter the circumstance you describe, of media bias in the conservative direction (Fox news perhaps excepted). Interestingly (and, I suspect, tellingly) you provide no such examples of such bias, you merely assert that such examples exist, without supporting the assertion.

    I return to my original question. Unlike you, BW and I both provided concrete examples. Do you agree that they are unfortunate examples of liberal media bias, or do you have a justification for them? I again await your response, hoping that this time it is more, uh, responsive.

  • Greg

    The nature and operation of conservative bias in the media is well documented and easily googled. I see no advantage to taking on that big topic here, although I will point out that bias is indiscriminant of view, and we would expect to see the consequences of bias, in spite of view (although you come close to denying that common-sense observation).

    Please note also that I did not suggest your “motives are less than pure.” I merely observed that the purpose of this blog and others like is to promote a particular partisan point-of-view. In fact, as I said, I read this blog and others like it because of that point-of-view.

    Where I fault this blog and others like it is in the authors’ confusion over the differences between the nature and value of facts and opinions (a distinction Book raised in her original blog-entry). It is disingenuous of, oh, Book to criticize the AP for errors she commits herself.

    Book’s failure illustrates why I argue that, in our information-rich age, the challenge confronting a partisan is to promote their view (animate their universe) without severing the links between their world and that of others.

  • Zhombre

    You are a very patient man, DQ.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Greg,

    I appreciate the reasonable tone of your comments, but I’m afraid I can’t agree with the contents. You again suggest that a blogger citing an editorial in support of her position is somehow making the same mistake that a news organization reporting editorial opinion as news is making. I respectfully disagree. The two situations are not at all comparable, primarily because editorials should (and often do) contain facts, while factual news stories should never contain editorian opinion.

    Promoting a particular point of view is not the sole purpose of this blog. In fact, BW and I often diverge in our own points of view. To take two examples that we’ve discussed on this blog: BW supported our entry into Iraq, I opposed it; BW opposes gay marriage and I support it. Certainly BW’s views predominate because she puts a whole lot more time and effort into her blogging. But we both hope this will be a forum for an exchange of ideas and not just a partisan rant.

    You are quite correct that bias is “indiscriminant of view” but that’s the problem. Studies have shown (and, no, unfortunately I don’t have them at hand) that something like 90% of reporters are left of center. Thus, accepting your premise, something like 90% of all media bias tilts to the left. This effect used to be counterbalanced by the fact that most newspaper editors and owners were conservative, so the editorial lean to the right somewhat cancelled out the front page lean to the left. I believe it is fair to say this is no longer true, so what remains is bias to the left as at the NY Times, for example.

    Oddly, you still have answered none of my questions or given a single example of conservative bias but I’m enjoying the discussion anyway. You accuse conservative bloggers of “raw partianship.” Would you acknowledge that the same is true of liberal blogs, often with far more rawness and less civility than you will see from either BW or me (or the vast majority of our readers) on this blog?

  • Greg

    Editorials necessarily color the facts they deploy and represent a poor source of factual information, as the consumer of information must know in order to keep their head above the dividing line between fact and opinion. I’ll stand by my critique that (a) Book is as guilty as the AP of conflating fact with opinion, and that (b) Book’s (and your) failure to discern that conflation arises from the partisan processes operating in your blog (that there might be additional processes — as you assert – operating in your blog is beside the point). You and Book are often enough “blinded by the light” of your partisan affiliations, and your blog’s impact suffers for it.

    Any forum — blog, or otherwise — that’s unaware of it’s prejudices becomes captive to them. Nonetheless, conservatism appears relatively lacking in the self-correcting checks and balances that permit a world-view to accommodate divergent opinion (a reality naturally stemming from the conservative’s stubborn instance that they stand on immutable principle).

    Lastly, as a point of style, please note that in my posts I have used the descriptor “conservative” but not “liberal.” I have done so because a hallmark of contemporary conservatism is the demonization of ALL opposition as being “liberal,” when in fact, rather much ground separates conservative and liberal views. And that ground embodies more dimensions than a single left-right axis.

    On a personal note to you, DQ, I am shocked that you are unaware of conservative bias in the media. (You claim such ignorance as your own, but I don’t believe you because anyone who’s at all versed in the controversy over media bias can’t help but acknowledge the ways that bias operates on the right. I think you’re spoofing me about being ignorant.)

  • Don Quixote

    Okay, Greg, now you’re just goofing on me. You see a blogger’s citation to an editorial as the equal of a reporter’s inclusion of editorial content in a news story. Yet you don’t see your constant use of “conservative” as a generic, undifferentiated label as exactly the same as my use of “liberal” as such a label. You talk about the right’s “demonization” of opposition as a “hallmark of contemporary conservatism” ignoring that it is conservatives who support freedom of speach and liberals who invented political correctness. (Go compare the Captain’s Quarters to KOS and come back and tell me which site demonizes opposing views.) You are “shocked” that I claim that most media bias is liberal but you (a) say that media bias reflects the underlying bias of the reporter (no matter what the direction) and (b) don’t even attemt to deny that most reporters are liberal which in a simple syllogism means that (c) most media bias is liberal. You continue you attacks on this (and other conservative) sites as reflecting prejudices and demonization, yet do not deny that this site is much more civil and encouraging of other opinions than most liberal sites.

    Personally, I’m well aware of my biases, allow for them as best I can, and freely state them when discussing any issue. Do you do the same? I’m enjoying this chat (and hope other readers are as well) but I don’t get the feeling that you are actually engaging on the issues. Your comments reflect your own biases without acknowledging them and do not answer the specific examples and reasoning in my comments. I hope for more from you than that.

  • Greg

    You want to discuss media bias, yet *are* ignorant on how conservative bias operates in the media and elsewhere. Do your homework, and we’ll take this up again sometime.

  • Zhombre

    Gotta love that Greg. “Come up to my level, and we can talk.”

  • Ymarsakar

    I see no advantage to taking on that big topic here

    But he does see the advantage to commenting here in vague and general terms about such and such things.

    So if Greg isn’t commenting here to tackle the big topics, what is he here for? To enjoy Bookworm’s writing? Get recommendations from her on what movies and books to read?

    You and Book are often enough “blinded by the light” of your partisan affiliations, and your blog’s impact suffers for it.

    I think I get what Greg is saying. Anything that Greg disagrees with, is a “partisan affiliation”, regardless of any logic inconsistencies or comparable analysis.

    I have done so because a hallmark of contemporary conservatism is the demonization of ALL opposition as being “liberal,” when in fact, rather much ground separates conservative and liberal views.

    Indeed, as if I’ve consistently and oftentimes presented to Don and Bookworm, much ground separates the liberals from the conservatives, and the fake liberals from the liberals.

    Nonetheless, conservatism appears relatively lacking in the self-correcting checks and balances that permit a world-view to accommodate divergent opinion (a reality naturally stemming from the conservative’s stubborn instance that they stand on immutable principle).

    On a personal basis, that is just not true. Simply because I’ve tested it once or twice, (okay more than that) when I criticize Bush in front of people that I know support Bush, on the policies that I don’t agree with. With the Democrats and the fake liberals, I have analyzed their reactions, and it is always about 95% negative concerning Bush. They give him no benefit and no positive credit. Whenever someone says something positive about Bush, the Left sneers in contempt and in surprise at the sheer audacity of such a comment. The Right is unique in my experience of being able to take criticism, probably bolstered by many moderates and true liberals like Bookworm, Neo-Neocon, and VDH. True, there are some crazies out there, but not unduly and not inconsistent with the human condition.

    Their ability to take criticism, and not get too defensive about it, is a true example of democracy in action. At least conservatives are willing to hear the other side, which accounts for why true liberals and such is migrating over to the Right, as the Left abandons them. Eventually, it gets into a mishmash.

    You cannot reason a person out of a position, when he was never reasoned into one. The basics of logic premises and principles are known to all of humanity, among all reasonable people. It is one of the few factors linking the commonality of the human race. Culture, race, life experiences, all do not link humanity, but the basic precepts upon which belief is based upon, is global if not universal.

  • Don Quixote

    Oh, Greg, what a disappointment! Come back when you are ready to talk about the issues seriously, rather than just playing I-know-something-you-don’t-know games. If you’d care to enlighten me, I’m all ears, but “do your homework” is simply insulting and unproductive.

  • Greg

    Students I’ve known have understood “do your homework” as a challenge and an expectation (coming to grips with walking the walk and talking the talk) and never as a prejurative slight. I am sorry if you feel I attempted to diminish you. I’ll snark with the best of them, but I was not doing so when I stated the obvious, that a conversation on media bias necessarily includes a barre of understanding related to the characteristics of media bias at both ends of the political spectrum. Otherwise all you get is a pissing contest.

    If you really need a place to start, try this:

  • Don Quixote

    Greg, for openers, I an not your “student” although I made clear that I would happily learn from you if you had anything to teach. Therefore, I took the link you suggested, and I was not impressed. Brock gave the game away when the he talked about how “extreme” conservatives are and how out of the mainstream Limbaugh is, thus giving away his own biases. I will readily grant that both sides try to spin the media like crazy. Look at what the Democrats have done with the whole Foley deal. Look at how gullible the media is to false stories by the Palestinians (such as the fake bombing of a Red Cross ambulance, to name one of many covered on this blog & others). And, yes, the Republicans are every bit as active as the Democrats. Both sides spin the big issues and both sides sometimes succeed. The Republicans might even be better at it, as Brock suggests, though I doubt it.

    I’m more concerned by the day-to-day bias in simple reporting. The bias in this reporting is not due to the manipulation of external forces, but by the internal biases of the reporters. True, this bias works in both directions, but if 90% of the reporters are left of center, then 90% of the internally-generated bias will tilt to the left. Thus, to use the example I used last week, when the perpetrator is a Muslim the media focuses on assurances that there is no proof the crime was religiously motivated, but when the victim is Muslim, the media focuses on accusations from Muslim religious leaders and family members that the crime was religiously motivated. Both events happened in Fremont, CA (where I happen to live) and were reported by the same media outlets. This is not due to external manipulation; it’s simply the day to day internal bias of the reporters shining through their reports.

    Sometimes the bias is more blatant than others. I saw an interview on Leno a couple of weeks ago of a fellow who blasted the President for lying and generally went on a leftist rant. Who was the fellow? Well, he was introduced as the man who will anchor NBC’s election coverage. You can imagine how biased his anchoring will be.

    Anyway, we can agree that both sides try to manipulate the media and sometimes succeed. What do you have to say, or what links do you have, about the effect of internal bias?

  • Greg

    Bias preys on those who are oblivious to it. If you know how bias works, then you’re ahead of it.

    “Internally-generated bias”? … Are you, a *conservative*, construing those to the left of you as being more driven by “internal” agendas than the run-of-the-mill conservative, someone whose political philosophy is explicitly grounded in deeply-held immutable principle? No. No.

    Perhaps what’s tripping you up is that fact often has a liberal bias, so to speak.

  • Ymarsakar


    Students I’ve known have understood “do your homework” as a challenge and an expectation (coming to grips with walking the walk and talking the talk) and never as a prejurative slight

    You hear that Zhombre, we get to be his students free of tuition and we don’t even need to buy a book! What a bargain, eh?

    but I was not doing so when I stated the obvious,

    Of course it was obvious that you thought of us as your students.

    Greg, for openers, I an not your “student” although I made clear that I would happily learn from you if you had anything to teach.

    Are you really sure of that, Don? I mean, really really sure?
    On a more serious note.
    Why do you care about internal bias, Don. It doesn’t change the truth, or your beliefs, one way or another.

  • Zhombre

    I say again: Don Quijote is a patient man, and my hat is off to him. I sincerely doubt Greg holds a teaching position anywhere however. FOr one his prose style is impenetrable (of course that may not be a bar to teaching these days). Second, mispelling pejorative and using a stilted phrase like “barre of understanding” (WTF does that mean?) doesn’t suggest someone with an advanced degree or teaching qualifications, or an ability with expository English. Third, his whole “conservative media bias” is nothing but warmed over ratatouille from the kitchen of Eric Alterman and UT Austin journalism prof Robert Jensen. I’ll stick to my earlier assessment of this guy as a self annointed lefty dingus.

  • Ymarsakar

    Earl would better know people with professorial ambitions.

  • Greg

    Impenetrable prose that you and Y can’t help yourself but quote.

    At the risk of ….. Well, to set the record straight, I said “Students I’ve know”. I did not say “My students I’ve known.” I regret that that misunderstanding has entered into this discussion. Can that misunderstanding now exit from this discussion?

  • Ymarsakar

    I quote everyone, not even Bookworm and Don are immune from my quotes.

    Greg, Don is talking to you. It doesn’t matter if I or Zhombre misunderstood something, cause we’re not discussing anything with you.

    If you want to clear up some misunderstanding, just address Don’s points, and he’ll be satisfied.

  • Greg

    I find dialogue to be most productive when it’s a bilateral and multilateral exchange.

  • Don Quixote

    I agree completely, Greg, but, respectfully, you have not engaged in the dialogue, in that you have not answered any of my questions, or even explicitly disagreed with any of my points. For example, I’ve said at least twice that I agree with you that internal bias will be reflected in news reports equally, whether that bias is left or right of center. I’ve merely pointed out that most reporters are left of center, so most internal bias reflected in biased reporting will lean to the left. You responded by asking whether I was “a conservative construing those to the left of you as being more driven by ‘internal’ agendas than the run-of-the-mill conservative.” I am not and anyone reading my comments above objectively would well know that.

    Perhaps what’s “tripping you up” is your own inaccurate stereotype of how a conservative thinks and reacts. You filter my comments through that inaccurate view of me and, not surprisingly, fail to accurately assess my actual thoughts and reactions, even when I state them clearly as I do above. You revealed this bit of bias of yours by lumping all conservatives together as if they were monolithic while arguing that I should not so lump liberals, which you viewed as more diverse.

    Zhombre and all, thanks for the comments, and I do lose patience. I do believe, however, that nothing but good can come of discussing issues with people I disagree with, so long as it’s done respectfully and honestly. So far, while Greg hasn’t fully engaged, he has not flamed or done anything but display his own self-assuredness.

  • Ymarsakar

    Liberals aren’t more diverse, they are just more real to him.

    For some reason bias isn’t bias if he thinks it is the truth, irrespective of how this is his actual bias and not reality.

    Greg is too well educated to be in sooth the vulgar students of universities. Age may not bring wisdom, but at least it mellows foolish youth.

  • Greg

    We speak two languages, and thus the goal of this kind of dialogue is to find the common ground, of which there is always some, somewhere. I thought the common ground between us might have been either the nature of fact and opinion (a theme of Book’s original post) or the nature of bias on the right and left (the topic underlying your original post), but you found neither of those topics compelling. Regardless, I didn’t “answer your questions” (which is your narrow, utterly self-serving definition of “engagement”) because (a) you *demanded* that I do so (like, up yours, buddy), and (b) I couldn’t. care. less. about them (although I know conservatives disagree on that, so I suppose our common ground might have been why you care so greatly about something that I think is meaningless). Furthermore, I am very aware of my assumptions and high-level biases governing my discussion with you. At the end of the day, you haven’t proved those assumptions to be wrong. Lastly, I regret that you actually thanked Z for his sniping. In doing so, you showed your lack of respect for my substantial effort here to talk with you, DQ. I will not pursue this kind of exchange again at BW Room.

  • zhombre

    Kid takes his bat and ball and goes home. Nobody wants to play fair.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I saw a great bumper sticker the other day – “I think, therefore I’m a Liberal”. It may have been Greg’s car, for all that I know. What a twit! Nobody denies that Liberals “think” – it’s just the wisdom part of it that they don’t get.

  • Don Quixote

    But, Greg, I engaged on the nature of fact and opinion, explaining (1) that editoritals may contain facts but factual reporting should never contain editorial opinion and (2) that a blogger quoting an editorial is not at all comparable to a news reporter editorializing in a news story. You did not answer either of these points, but simply restated your view that BW and the news reporters were making the same mistake. I engaged on the nature of bias on the left and right, explaining that there was a difference between external efforts to manipulate and internal bias and that internal bias is largely left of center because most reporters’ belief systems are left of center. You attempted to distort my position into some sort of double standard where I viewed conservatives differently than liberals.

    I have never “demanded” that you answer my questions, I have politely asked you to do so and pointed out that you refuse to do so. You are certainly under no obligation to do so; but since I engaged your issues it would only be polite for you to engage mine. In fact, your comment leads me to ask another question. Why do you think media bias is meaningless?

    I did not thank Z for his “sniping”; I thanked him for his comments, largely as to my patience. In fact, I defended you for your conduct in this discussion, stating that you have not flamed or done anything but demonstrate your self-assuredness.

    I appreciate your “substantial effort” but I have tried my very best to respond to your comments and issues while you have not only refused to respond to mine but have now descended to the “up yours, buddy” level of dialogue. It would be a shame if you decided not to continue our discussion, but if you do decide to continue it, you’ll have to do better than that to be at all persuasive.

    One final word of advice: hold yourself to the same standard you hold others. You came on to this blog initially filled with insults far greater than anything Z said here. You failed to answer me when I engaged you on the topics you wanted to talk about, yet refused to engage me on the topics I wanted to talk about with an “up yours.” I think if you honestly judge your own behavior by the standards you would apply to my behavior you will find your own behavior wanting. I do hope that sometime you will decide to rejoin this discussion, but as an equal, not as a person believing himself to be superior and applying a double standard to his own actions and those of his opponents. I hope you will recognize that you can learn as well as teach; that others are as entitled to their opinions as you are; that there may even be merit in those opinions. As Dagon would say — peace.

  • Ymarsakar

    I have trouble getting Don to post more than a few replies to my positions and descriptions, but Greg seems to take it upon himself to believe that this is special for him and only him. If there is two people in a dialogue, then it isn’t just all about Greg, you know. If someone doesn’t want to talk, that’s fine, they are only required to state this desire on their part first up. If they don’t want misunderstandings and meanderings, then they should either stop or talk about what they really want.

    Placing too much of a burden of proof on Don, as Greg did, is counter-productive to any real communication in the English language. Maybe it is different in other cultures and languages, but in English, explicitness in the beginning clears up much that would be unsaid later.

    Even if you aren’t clear in the beginning, you should have something to show for your dialogue troubles at the end. Greg was and is still very clear. It just lacks elaboration and clarification.