The Appearance of Balance.

In today's editorial, the Tribune tries to present a balanced argument against mudslinging in politics. The differences in how they report on the right vs. the left, though, however subtle are clear. This provides a good example of how bias pervades the media.

Some examples:

  • "If they [the Republicans] have evidence that Schweitzer or his staff pulled some hanky panky, let's see it. Otherwise, the Republicans merely look petty." In other words, they should not have asked for an audit unless they had evidence that Schweitzer did something wrong. If they had evidence, why did they need an audit? It's a circular argument that the Republicans cannot win. (By the way, I tend to agree that the Governor's Ball seems to be a non-issue, other than as a mild jab to the effect that our Governor is not as independent of corporate largesse as he likes to portray himself.)
  • "Meanwhile, the Democrats appear to be taking a page from the Republican attack book." In other words, this is the normal procedure for Republicans operating out of their "attack book," while the Dems are just slipping this once.
  • The Tribune claims that the Governor did release an audit. He did not. My guess is that the editorial board has no idea what an audit is or looks like, so any report will do for them.
  • While there is no evidence that Burns did anything "illegal or unethical," the editorial board is "not happy that while Montana tribes struggle financially, Burns was working to get federal funds for a wealthy tribe from another state." In other words, the underlying theme is that Burns did something wrong, although maybe not "illegal or unethical." Was there a relationship between what Sen. Burns did and our tribes' plight, or are they just using a guilt by association technique. It appears that the State Republicans are in a huff about Gov. Schweitzer, and the Tribune uses it as a chance to take a little poke at Conrad Burns for something they admit was apparently not improper.
Subtle? Yes. Biased? Yes.

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