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

Exploring Bias

The story on everyone’s radar is that of Brett Kavanaugh, the man appointed to the Supreme Court by President Trump. He is currently under investigation as a result of sexual assault allegations by two women, Dr. Christine Ford and Debra Katz. He denies the accusations while resisting investigation by the FBI.

The bias in the article, “Dems accused of moving goalposts on Kavanaugh after FBI probe ordered,” is clearly ideological. It frames two sides of the Kavanaugh conflict. That of the Democrats, who would prefer not to have Kavanaugh confirmed, and that of the Republicans who are less keen on the investigation and would prefer to have a Republican on the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment. In the article, it seems as though the author is trying to cover the bias by investigating both sides, but it is has a large focus on the different reactions and demands by the Democrats, citing the Democrats that believe the investigation is not enough and delaying the confirmation. The author analyzes what the Democrats are pushing for but does not do the same for the Republicans. He therefore puts larger scrutiny on the Democrats than the Republicans. This shows the bias in the article because it creates doubt on the motivations of the Democratic Party in the case of Kavanaugh.

In the article, “Dems accused of moving goalposts on Kavanaugh after FBI probe ordered,” there is a clear conflict frame used to set the two sides against each other. This is discussed in Mary Layton Atkinson’s Combative Politics. Of the five element of the conflict frame, this article portrays polarized forces, heated conflict, substantive debate, and parliamentary tactics. Polarized forces come into play when the author poses the Republicans as resistant to further investigation of Kavanaugh, while insisting that the Democrats will not be satisfied with the current state of the investigation. They are clearly at odds and disagree on both sides. The author does admit that there is slight overflow, as evidenced by “not all Democrats have dismissed the newly ordered FBI probe outright.” In addition to that, however, he places the outliers on their respective sides by displaying how the sides react to the overflow. For example, he cites, “at GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s urging, President Trump ordered the FBI to open such a ‘supplemental’ background investigation.” The general consensus is that the Republicans are eager to push Kavanaugh’s appointment further, while Democrats are trying to hold it back. Heated conflict is shown by incivility. In reference to Republican insistence that the investigation take no longer than a week, the author says “Democrats have since cried foul over those limits – saying the FBI should be not be restricted in time or subject.” The term “cried foul” creates a sense of incivility between the two parties and further enhances the conflict frame. The author insinuates the investigation is being used by Democrats as a parliamentary tactic to delay the vote on Kavanaugh, which is the main bias in this article, as evidenced by the title. The Democrats are being accused of “moving goalposts” for Kavanaugh to reach.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dems-accused-of-moving-goalposts-on-kavanaugh-after-fbi-probe-ordered

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo25681072.html

Exploring Bias