Article Comparison #1

For my first article comparison, I am comparing two news articles, “Michael Cohen says Donald Trump knew hush payments were wrong” from CNN and “Former FEC commissioners: Trump-Cohen ‘hush’ payments not necessarily a violation” from Fox News. Both of these articles cover the hush money given to Stormy Daniels and another woman who had an affair with Donald Trump. They both debate whether the money counts as a campaign finance violation, though they take completely different sides, both committing sins of omission along the way.

In the article from CNN, it reads like an interview with Cohen and his views on working with President Trump but does not discuss the possibility of it not being a violation. The other article from Fox, however, rarely quotes Cohen directly and instead focuses on downplaying the severity of Trump’s actions.

In the first article, the situation is framed as being “wrong,” while using Cohen as a character witness for Donald Trump. He said that “Trump directed him to make the payments because Trump ‘was very concerned about how this would affect the election.'” By using this quote, the author puts it in the context of campaign finance violation while only ever mentioning the exact term when saying that Cohen plead guilty to the charge. The author skirts around the actual issue of what might make this a problem for Trump. I see the purpose of this article as a way to establish more distrust towards President Trump than to make accusations about him breaking laws. In addition to Cohen’s reports on working with Trump, they also mention his deals with Russia. The article states, “Trump repeatedly denied any contact between members of his campaign team and Russians. At least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition.” By stating Trump’s claim then immediately debunking it, the author is instilling the idea that Trump cannot be trusted. This article is a way of stacking sources against Trump and building up to an offense he could be tried for in the future. It does not suggest that Trump is guilty of one particular thing, but rather that he has a history of lying about his actions in general.

In the other article by Fox News, they immediately address the worst case scenario and confront the issue. The evidence used in this article greatly contrasts to the other article. They draw on the word of former FEC commissioners. They say “there would have been a lot of pressure for Cohen to plead guilty due to the more serious financial charges he was facing related to his business dealings.” This piece of evidence from an authority on the matter seeks to invalidate the idea that Cohen and Trump are locked together. The author uses this as a strategy to separate Trump from the guilty party. In addition to that, they aim to separate the transaction from the election.  The author describes Trump as a “well-known celebrity, and celebrities face these claims all the time.” At the very least, the article tries to prove the legality of Trump’s actions without discussing if they were ethically wrong in any capacity.

The two articles both have a fair level of shortcomings. If someone only read the CNN article, they would only obtain the information that reaffirms a belief that Trump is untrustworthy. This can build into overestimating the effect that these actions might have on Trump’s presidency, like believing it is an impeachable offense, even if the action in and of itself is hard to prove. If someone only read the Fox article, however, they would not receive all the facts on Cohen’s outlook on the situation or on quite the severity of the actions. The Fox article only aims to affirm that the actions were not necessarily illegal and do some damage control. Both articles leave out important perspectives and do a detriment to the set of people that will only read the one article.

Works Cited

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/14/politics/michael-cohen-abc-interview/index.html

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ex-fec-commissioners-trump-cohen-hush-payments

Article Comparison #1

Exploring Bias #2

For my exploration in bias, I will be investigating the article, “Pacific Life Yanks Ads After Tucker Carlson’s Dig That Immigrants Make U.S. ‘Dirtier’.” In this article, the author discusses the repercussions of some comments made in Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. Carlson reportedly said, “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier and more divided.” This shows both sides of a contentious issue around immigrants today. On one side, Carlson argues that immigrants should not be permitted in this country while on the other, a company removes their sponsorship from his show because his comments do not align with their company’s views.

Although this article tries to seem unbiased by displaying both sides, the author formatted it in such a way that it displays a conflict frame. This happens in two main ways, substantive debate and heated conflict (Atkinson 2017, 36). Substantive debate is showcased in the article as the author places Tucker Carlson’s comments in between the reactions of people to those comments. Heated conflict is shown by the harsh language used by Tucker Carlson in his attempt to garner reaction from the public. He claims that the liberal population is “weaponizing social media” in order to strip him of his sponsors. Heated conflict, in this case, is not the author’s fault in the article, as she is simply quoting Carlson. Carlson’s words do, however, emphasize the substantive debate put into use by the author, further increasing the conflict felt within the article.

In addition to that, Carlson mentions a concept used in Jones’s book, Losing the News, though not necessarily in the same context. He brings up “media watchdogs.” In Jones’s book, the media serves as a democratic watchdog. This entails making sure the government is held accountable (Jones 2009, 49). Carlson, however, interprets the term as people are trying to police the media, though in a negative light, “it is a shame that left-wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs,’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech.” As we discussed in class, the media serves as a watchdog, but it is also the individual’s responsibility to critically analyze the media we are given (Kovach and Rosenstiel 2011). There is bias in the statements made by Tucker Carlson and covered by this article, and it is our job to ensure that the media we receive is taken actively instead of passively.

Works Cited

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: The Media and Public Perceptions of Lawmaking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jones, Alex S. 2009. Losing the News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kovach, Bill and Rosenstiel, Tom. 2011. Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pacific-life-pulls-tucker-carlson-ads-immigrant-dirtier-comment_us_5c144fede4b049efa7526386

Exploring Bias #2

A Controversial Compromise: The Conflict Frame Surrounding Brexit

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union last year Theresa May has been working on a plan to execute the separation. Up until recently Mrs. May preached a  “red-line” stance on Brexit, stating that she would never compromise on key issues for her party and other supporters of the split. But when she presented her plan for Brexit a few weeks ago, Mrs. May faced immediate backlash and multiple attacks over her new stance. Critics of this proposal are outraged by her new plan to compromise with the E.U, saying that her proposal is not what she promised.

The New York Times piece, ‘Theresa May Tried to Lead Britain to a Brexit Compromise. Was it Too Late?’, by Ellen Barry goes into depth over Mrs. May’s controversial compromise. But like many articles focused on legislative policy, this article uses the conflict frame, specifically polarized forces, substantive debate, and parliamentary tactics, in order to report on the issue in a way that is enticing to readers. These tactics highlight the existing conflict between lawmakers in Britain and the growing polarization surrounding Brexit.

As defined in Combative Politics, the term ‘polarized forces’ is characterized by presenting the “two sides of the issue […] within the first four sentences [of an article], setting [it] up as an examination of the ‘two sides of an issue” (Atkinson 2017, 37). Barry does this right off the bat in her article. She writes, “the full weight of two and a half years of struggle was visible on Prime Minister Theresa May’s face when she appealed to her colleagues to let go of their passionate, polarized beliefs and support her plan to leave the European Union in a vote on Tuesday.” This introductory anecdote set Barry’s article up to be exactly what Atkinson cautions against: a story that focuses attention on the polarization of an issue or piece of legislation.

In addition to this, Barry’s article uses substantive debate by covering the two-sided debate between elites in response to Brexit legislation. Her article highlights the “political effects of [this] legislation” and the “two sided discussion of [its] efficacy and merit” (Atkinson 2017, 38). Barry does this by including a number of quotes by people close to Mrs. May, their heated opinions about her, and writers who have covered Brexit in the past. She writes that “”She has not prepared the nation for what a compromise looks like,” said Katie Perrior, who served briefly as Mrs. May’s director of communications after she became prime minister. “At the beginning there was so much hard talk. ‘These are my red lines.’ Now people are trying to match the hard-talking Theresa May with another, more compromising one. She has not really explained that gap.” This quote uses polarized forces and substantive debate by presenting the disconnect between what Mrs. May said and what her proposals look like now. It also paints a picture of discontented elites who feel they were promised one thing and are getting another. Here Barry highlights the ways in which people are questioning the merit of Mrs. May’s Brexit.

Lastly, Barry’s article is an example of parliamentary tactics, or “articles that detail strategies to advance preferred policies and defeat one’s they oppose”, in action (Atkinson 2017, 39). Her New York Times article details Mrs. May’s background and how and why she was chosen to handle Brexit. It also lays out strategies that Mrs. May used in the beginning and how those strategies are playing out now. Barry writes that “if Mrs. May’s appeal for compromise has rung hollow, it is due in part to her own choices. For two and a half years as she negotiated Britain’s departure from the European Union, she was secretive about her intentions, like a poker player holding her cards to her chest. Early on, she expended vast reserves of energy reassuring the hard-line faction of her party that she was on their side, declaring boldly that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” This brings direct attention to Mrs. May’s tactics and how she has attempted to execute Brexit for better or for worse.    

All of this can be systematically investigated with the code Atkinson created for identifying the conflict frame and its effects on legislation. As more and more controversy begins to surround Brexit, public opinions of the matter are shifting and many worry that Britain’s politics are dangerously close to becoming a culture war (Barry 2018). For this reason, it is of critical importance that articles surrounding this and other legislation is coded for conflict frames in order to combat possible negative public opinion by bringing attention to its effects.

Works Cited:

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: the media and public perceptions of lawmaking. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/09/world/europe/theresa-may-brexit.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 12/09/2018

A Controversial Compromise: The Conflict Frame Surrounding Brexit

Dramatization on the Hill: Trump, Mueller, and Cohen, Oh My!

Over the weekend the Mueller investigation released some shocking details in regards to Trump’s campaign and current administration. New information about possible Russian collusion and felony charges against the president during his 2016 campaign have been picked up and reported on by the media. Conversations about possible grounds for impeachment are beginning to start on networks like MSNBC, CNN, and even Fox News. Everyone is waiting to see what will happen next and what steps, if any, the president and his legal team are going to take. As is expected with the breaking of a politically and emotionally charged story, a number of news outlets are beginning to release articles about what can be expected in the coming days, weeks, and months, as the Mueller investigation unearths more and more evidence.

Many of these articles include clear examples of journalistic bias. For example, a piece by Washington Post journalists Robert Costa and Philip Rucker called “‘Siege warfare’: Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils” demonstrates event dramatization and focuses specifically on the characters at the heart of all the drama.

Bennett defines dramatization as news stories that “emphasize crisis over continuity, the present over the past or future, and the personalities at their center” (Bennett 2008, 178). While this event and the allegations against Trump are very serious and cause for alarm, the dramatization of Mueller’s findings undercuts their severity. “Lost in the news drama are sustained analyses of persistent problems such as inequality, […] and political oppression” (Bennett 2008, 178). The Washington post article dramatized the event with phrases like “political hailstorm”, “distressing”, “reeling”, and “intensifying”. In addition to this, the article focused on both sides of the aisle, and makes it seem like Trump and his legal team are plowing forward with a kind of ‘you can’t touch us’ attitude. While there was some analysis of the problem at hand and what it could mean legally, the article focused more on the drama between Democrats waiting to take over the House in January and Republicans. It also played off of so called ‘breaking points’, or moments when the presidents hypothetical actions could spell political suicide and cost him support from key Republican senators. Overall, the article focused more on the personalities, specifically Trump and his aides, at the epicenter of the story.  

In addition to this, while this article did a fairly good job at remaining unbiased in their coverage, there was a certain crisis frame placed around their reporting. And because the allegations of crimes committed by Trump is directly tied with an emotion (whether that emotion is positive or one of fear or anger), the crisis cycle as shown by the language used in this article, could hurt the validity of Mueller’s findings by redirecting people into “waves of immediate emotion” and away from fact (Bennett 2008, 178). The evidence uncovered by Mueller is critical to the stability and integrity of our democracy and for this reason it is crucial that the reporting on this evident is done correctly and free of journalistic bias or an attempt to up-sell the event for more ratings.

It is entirely logical, in my opinion, to be concerned and anxious to discover the truth about Trump, no matter what side of the aisle you vote for. This event, if true, marks an extreme assault on America’s institutions and their integrity. And for this reason, journalists need to be overly careful not to slant their coverage towards dramatization as this can have a profound negative effect on the story itself. In order to systematically investigate this bias a code should be developed to pinpoint dramatization and categorize it in order to better understand what it looks like in actions. Similar to what Atkinson did in Combative Politics, a code for dramatization and its severity could help educate readers on how to better analyze articles with dramatic slants. Which is important in order to make sure we, as media consumers, do not get bogged down in our initial emotional responses to particular political headlines.       

Works Cited:

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: the media and public perceptions of lawmaking. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd.   

Bennett, W. Lance. 2008. News: The Politics of Illusion. In The Lanahan Readings in Media and Politics, ed. Lewis S. Ringel, 173-184. Baltimore: Lanahan Publishers Inc.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/siege-warfare-republican-anxiety-spikes-as-trump-faces-growing-legal-and-political-perils/2018/12/08/679b785a-fa59-11e8-863c-9e2f864d47e7_story.html?utm_term=.4f0efec112b9

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 12/09/2018

Dramatization on the Hill: Trump, Mueller, and Cohen, Oh My!

Exploring Bias: Insights Into Facebook’s Selling of Data

Recently in class, we discussed the responsibility of news consumers when reading through articles from various outlets, as outlined in Kovach and Rosenstiel’s book Blur. The authors note that the responsibilities of news consumers can be condensed into six essential questions:

  1. What kind of content am I encountering?
  2. Is the information complete; and if not, what is missing?
  3. Who or what are the sources and why should I believe them?
  4. What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted?
  5. What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?
  6. Am I learning what I need to?

By considering these basic questions, readers are able to better evaluate the content that they consume and are in turn more aware of biases and are better able to distinguish what is authentic facts within news and what is not. Through this post I will interact with a Washington Post article and evaluate it’s based on the criteria listed by Kovach and Rosenstiel. For instance, I noted that this article titled, “Facebook allegedly offered advertisers special access to users’ data and activities, according to documents released by British lawmakers”, provides insight into the content and lens that the journalist will assume while discussing this topic. Additionally, I have also noted this article to be a part of the “traditional media” or one that has “historically had a commitment to all five of the key journalistic standards” and is thus quite reputable as outlined by Alex Jones in his book Losing the News. This article portrays how Damian Collins, a chairman of a British parliamentary committee, has “led a wide-ranging investigation into (Zuckerberg and) Facebook and its dealings with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica”. The article continues by discussing how documents recently released in Britain challenge the long time claims from Facebook stating that they do not sell the data of Facebook users for profit or to advertisers. The data suspected to be sold is listed by journalists Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin, and Tony Romm as users’ Facebook posts, photos, name, gender, educational and religious background, and home town. This is vital information to users and could promote an increase in the tracking of users and thus further the personalization of their online experience which could contribute to the formation of a users’ filter bubble, as noted by Praiser, that can often exist on social media sites and apps such as Facebook. The article concludes with more quotes and evidence from previous years that denounces Facebook’s innocence in the selling of users’ data.

Additionally, upon reviewing this article, I noted that the journalists writing the piece are cited following the conclusion of the article and their qualifications and backgrounds are listed which also helped in observing the authenticity and accuracy of this article. However, with regards to the backgrounds, one should also be aware and diligent when reading since these journalists could possibly be perceived as insiders with their own biases that could be unknowingly portrayed through the sources and quotes chosen and the language used to describe the event. In turn, though this is most likely not the case with this particular article, these biases could contribute to the overall formation of journalism of affirmation, or the concept that “a new political media builds loyalty less on accuracy, completeness, or verification than on affirming the beliefs of its audiences, and so tends to cherry-pick information that serves that purpose” as noted by Kovach and Rosenstiel.

From this article, a clear pattern is portrayed through the evidence, sources, quotes, and language used to convey Facebook’s guilt. Alternatively, the denials from Mark Zuckerberg are included in this article, however, have limited believability due to the surrounding evidence of communication such as emails where he acknowledges the selling of users’ data.

In conclusion, this Washington Post article, when analyzed utilizing the six basic questions outlined by Kovach and Rosenstiel, provides overwhelming evidence against the innocence of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg with regards to the selling of users’ data. Additionally, this article is primarily concerned with facts of guilt through the sources, quotes, and language used to describe this event. Furthermore, this use of particular sources, quotes, and language could be viewed as a use of journalism of affirmation. Moreover, when considering the question of what could be missing, this could include accounts from Facebook users and the effects of the suspected selling of their data had on their Facebook and overall internet usage, particularly with a focus on how an issue such as this could have impacted users’ beliefs and democracy as a whole since the selling of data was suspected to have begun.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/05/facebook-allegedly-offered-advertisers-special-access-users-data-activities-according-documents-released-by-british-lawmakers/?utm_term=.a22d562df5ee

Jones, Alex S. Losing the News, (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel “Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload” (New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2010)

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.

Penny Peña

Exploring Bias: Insights Into Facebook’s Selling of Data

Article Comparison 2

The articles I’ve chosen to compare are from The Daily Wire and The New York Times, both of which cover the nomination of Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House. The Daily Wire covers the topic in a overtly negative manner while the New York Times seems to cover it with less bias.

In the Daily wire piece written by Emily Zanotti the description of events was accurate but also filled with subtle and not so subtle jabs at the democratic party and Nancy Pelosi. In the piece not only did it seem like the Nancy Pelosi was being personally criticized but the Democratic Party seemed to be mocked. The issue discussed was not put in a polarized or conflict frame as much as parliamentary tactics were discussed. Zanotti mocks the tactics she thinks are used by the Democratic party and Pelosi to hold and flaunt her position of power. Zanotti saw Pelosi’s actions to winning the election as a sort of peacocking, “She ran an uncontested race but took a victory lap anyway”. Zanotti further pointed out the how the Democratic party tried create a false image of Pelosi by calling for a paper vote rather than a voice vote “ostensibly sparing Pelosi the embarrassment of a non-unanimous vote”. Her coverage of Adam Schiff’s reaction perfectly showed her bias that she was clearly not trying to hide, “There was at least one man who was moved by Pelosi’s re-election, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)… “weeping as he made his declaration… Embarrassing”.  

The coverage of this event shifted to a significantly more bipartisan and less biased lens under The New York Times piece written by Julie Hirschfeld Davis. Davis acknowledged that Pelosi won in an easy manner but pointed out how 32 democrats “defected”, as did Zanotti, from her signaling possible difficulty in the future. The piece also talked about the perceived strong arming tactics Pelosi uses to stay in power, however the author hid her own reaction to this better than Zannotti does. Davis states how Pelosi and a leadership team that have stayed in power for ten years is “a remarkable reality for a party whose new face is one of generational, racial and cultural transformation”. She paints this more as surprising and interesting but not in a negative manner such as the daily wire piece. This piece also goes into more details about the democratic parties internal positions and who won which seat than The Daily Wire. Seemingly more interested in the entire parties workings rather than just attempting to paint Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in a negative light.

The Daily Wire piece is more determined to in Zannotti’s mind to expose a party and actions of some members in order to lessen the credibility of the Democratic Party. On the other end the New York Times piece attempts to lay out what happened and what it means in an impartial manner. The bias was clear in Zannotti’s piece but she did not try and hide it clearly trying to target a particular audience rather than a neutral one. The New York Times author Davis hid her personal piece well by comparison. However, both pieces came from a disorder bias, covering that specific piece of news from a viewpoint of government disorder. Both pieces picked up on dissenters from Pelosi’s vote of which she tried to gloss over and declare an overwhelming success. Both pieces in turn highlighted a possible division in the party that has had the same leadership for a while now, albeit in different forms.

Another aspect that was different but not drastically was the impoliteness present in Zannotti’s article compared to Davis’s. Impoliteness, or the disregard for social norms as defined in Twitter versus Facebook: Comparing incivility, impoliteness, and deliberative attributes. Zannotti clearly took a shot at Adam Schiff when she called his actions “embarrassing”. Now it is only one example that stands out but throwing it in shows the underlying personal bias that was not as present in the piece by Davis. Overall both pieces do a good job of telling what happened, however Zannotti lets her personal bias shine when describing the parliamentary tactics used by Pelosi while Davis makes more of an attempt to hide hers. In the end the same story paints somewhat different pictures with one being that Pelosi is a strong arming bully that isn’t as secure in her position as she wants others to believe. The other being a cautionary warning that a perennial political leader might have some new opposition.  

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/us/politics/pelosi-democrat-speaker-nomination.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
https://www.dailywire.com/news/38801/democrats-overwhelmingly-nominate-nancy-pelosi-emily-zanotti

Article Comparison 2

Article Comparison

When I began looking for articles to compare for this blog, I wanted to take a different approach to the comparisons. I wanted to find articles that I could compare but aren’t polarizing. I truly believe that the media can fix itself and our nation can fix this polarizing climate we are in. I decided to look at an event that was meant to bring us together as a country… the passing of George H. W. Bush. I was looking at articles on CNN and Fox News and they both spoke incredibly highly George H.W. Bush. I was worried that the CNN article would have said things that were criticizing his work as president, but both were very respectful. Both the articles discuss the enormous legacy that Bush held and the respect he demanded.

The CNN article discusses how the Clinton’s and Obama’s both went to the funeral to pay their respects. The only article I found that said something negative about an event at the funeral was from Fox News. It stated that Hilary Clinton was avoiding talking to Trump at the funeral. This is an unfortunate article because it seems based on biases and incorrect sources.

It is common for Presidents to cause major amounts of conflict among the population, but these articles show that the country is able to move past differences and show their respects for a deceased president. Both these articles used language such as respect, legacy, and honorable. It was encouraging to see this type of language used.

 

Work Cited

Pappas, Alex. “George H.W. Bush Honored by Son, Dignitaries in Emotional Funeral Tribute: ‘A Great and Noble Man’.” Fox News, FOX News Network, Dec. 2018

 

Wagner, Meg. “The Nation Honors George H.W. Bush: Live Updates.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Dec. 2018

Article Comparison