Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: "Media Bias In Action: Providence Journal Politicizes PolitiFact"

Blogger and associate clinical professor (Cornell Law School) William A. Jacobson posted some poignant words about PolitiFact during the 2009 election season:
The Providence Journal, the only statewide daily newspaper in Rhode Island which dominates news coverage, has endorsed Democrat David Cicilline for Congress in the RI-01 District, running against John Loughlin.  As my readers know, this is my home district and I support Loughlin.

Unfortunately, the PolitiFact feature at ProJo reflects these political leanings, as substantially identical analyses result in PolitiFact ratings more favorable to Cicilline.  I'll assume this bias is unintended, but the bias is there nonetheless.
 Jacobson goes on to chronicle a number of inconsistencies in the political coverage at PolitiFact Rhode Island.  On one point I'll disagree with his language, however.  The Providence Journal is simply continuing the tradition of politization at PolitiFact.

Individually, anecdotes showing disparate treatment are a relatively weak evidence of ideological bias.  A large collection of anecdotes, particularly where the evidence is clear, do provide reasonable support to the charge of bias, however.

Hat tip to JD for pointing out that I spelled "on" with an "e" on the end in the next-to-last paragraph.  The typo is hereby fixed.

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