home > archive > 2003 > this article
CNN, the Contrary News Network
By Paul Walfield
Dissenters in the British Parliament to Prime Minister Tony Blair's position on using military force against the regime of Saddam Hussein were defeated by a nearly 3 to 1 margin. In another vote, put forward by the Prime Minister, the British Parliament backed him by a 434 to 124 vote. That was pretty straight forward and was what actually happened on February 26, 2003 in England.
However, if you are CNN and you have an agenda contrary to the facts as they are, you report the 'facts' as you want them to be seen.
CNN's headline stated "Blair suffers huge revolt on Iraq." Sounds pretty bad for Prime Minister Blair, doesn't it? If you don't actually read the article carefully, you would not think for a moment that the British Prime Minister actually won the two votes offered in the British Parliament. But CNN doesn't just stop there.
CNN needs to confuse the issue more and make it appear that Blair has been isolated not only by "old" Europe, not just by the majority of the British people, but by his own party as well. CNN reports, "About 100 Labor MPs were believed to have defied him as members voted 2:1 by 393 votes to 199 to defeat a motion by dissenters that war should only be a last resort." It is accurate as far as the numbers go. But, if you were just skimming as most folks do, would you think that Prime Minister Blair was the one who won and that 393 members of Parliament were on his side with only 199 against him?
Many in the media have been debating the assertion by some that the mainstream media in America has a Liberal bias. Some have accused the New York Times of turning their front-page into an editorial page to further the agenda of its new boss, Howell Raines. In fact, many would say there is no debate, it is a fact.
Clearly, CNN has crossed a line in its coverage of the British vote backing Prime Minister Blair's position. Regardless of the efficacy of the substance of their coverage, the form they have chosen is shoddy and blatantly biased.
FoxNews, which prides itself on being fair and balanced, is. Their story on the same event has the headline, "House of Commons Backs Blair on Iraq." The Fox article continues, "The House of Commons backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's determination to disarm Iraq, voting Wednesday to support his handling of the crisis and reject his opponents' assertion that the case for war is 'unproven'."
The difference in the coverage over the same event is startling, or at least should be. CNN covers the story as a defeat for the British Prime Minister, while FoxNews covers the story as it actually occurred, a defeat for those that oppose the Prime Minister's Iraq policies and his strong alliance with the United States.
Even the Washington Post, which is widely understood to be left of center, reported the same Associated Press story as FoxNews declaring in their headline, "House of Commons Backs Blair on Iraq." To be fair, the Washington Post in its latest incarnation appears to be backing President Bush and his stand on Iraq and that might have helped it to report the story correctly.
MSNBC seemed to take the high road and reported, "House of Commons backs Blair on Iraq, but rebels produce strong showing."
ABC News in apparent solidarity with CNN, ran the story as "Blair Suffers Major Party Revolt Over Iraq." To be fair, the ABC story is based on a Reuter's story. Everyone should remember Reuter News Service as being the first, after September 11th to decide not to call terrorists, terrorists; rather they are to be called "militants," or less.
CNN in an apparent realization that the story they are presenting is in fact misleading, attempts to bolster their credibility by pointing out that the Labor Party has in the past "defied" British Prime Ministers with less votes, on umm, less important issues.
They also point out that while they don't know how many of the losing votes were from the Prime Minister's party, it sure must be embarrassing for him. The only people who should be embarrassed are the folks who call themselves journalists while they purposefully slant the news to fit in with their agenda.
Paul Walfield is a freelance writer and member of the State Bar of California
with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and post-graduate study in behavioral
and analytical psychology. He resided for a number of years in the small town
of Houlton, Maine and is now a California attorney. Paul can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2018, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.