A Subtle Form of Bias in Local News

A Subtle Form of Bias in Local News

Oh, the Activist Old Media finds many ways to blast people over the head with bias, but this common trick is much more subtle. 

The networks send stories from the Mother Ship to their affiliates and you watch them on your local news. It’s nothing new and usually isn’t biased, but when it is, it becomes very effective, because it’s so difficult to spot. This is something that falls between the cracks. I know, I’ve provided many stories over the years to the networks that have been used on local affiliates. You send them to the network, they put them on the “feed” for local affiliates, and the station in your market picks the ones they like to fill their 12.5 hours of news per day. 

You watch them on your local news sandwiched between car crashes and house fires.  

With smaller staffs and tighter budgets, these stories will become more important to local stations. Gotta put something between the commercials. 

Steve Handelsman has worked for NBC for years and voices stories sent by the network to its local affiliates. It’s a great gig, and real fact checkers (if there are any out there) usually pay no attention to stories that Steve, and others like him send to their affiliates. Why bother? The story wasn’t on the network news and who knows how many local stations actually ran the story? Many do air them, and they may have more impact than stories on the network newscasts because of where they are placed. We have come to almost expect biased stories on the network news, but not so much on the local newscasts, where the guy we saw at Costco last week is anchoring. 

One caught my attention. 

Handelsman did a story following the Republican Convention in which he talked about the Romney visit to flood ravaged New Orleans. “Today Romney changed his schedule to visit Louisiana.”

Later in the same story Handelsman added simply, “President Obama tours Isaac damage Monday.”

Oh…both statements on the surface are accurate, but together and without context, they are badly misleading. If Handelsman or his writers didn’t know the facts, they should’ve. I suspect they did.  

Obama is the one who changed his schedule after Romney announced he was heading to Louisiana. You have to go to the British media, the Mail Online to get the truth.

From Friday:

President Barack Obama was today forced to announce he will fly to storm-hit Louisiana on Monday – hours after Mitt Romney beat him to the punch by deciding to head there this afternoon. But the Republican presidential candidate touched down in the Hurricane ravaged state this afternoon – a full three days before Obama.

Of course, anybody really paying attention knows the order of how this happened. The Mail Online got it right, but if you were watching an NBC affiliate over the weekend, you would’ve heard the exact opposite. 

In the same story, Handelsman also said, “In his soaring speech last night, Romney did not lay out specifics.” Actually he did.  He mentioned his five point plan to save the economy. I actually covered an event in North Las Vegas back in September when Romney laid out his 160 page plan. At that time, some in the Activist Old Media ripped that plan for giving too many specifics. So he simplified it for this speech.

It’s easy to catch the networks when they edit video tape to make somebody sound racist (George Zimmerman) or when they flat-out use fake documents to tell a story (Dan Rather), but it’s much harder to pin them down on this bit of garbage news writing. 

Never forget, your local news often gets their stories from the same sources we have known to distrust for years. 

Follow Ron Futrell on Twitter @RonFutrell



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