Psychologists ought to be studying the strange disconnect between the Right and Left when it comes to perception of media bias. The Right has, for a long time now, been supplying fairly inarguable evidence that the news media is tilted heavily to the Left. The Left, despite this evidence, believes for the most part that this is all crap; the Right is so paranoid that they see everything as bias against their tired, racist, out-moded ideas.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of evidence. And what should be of interest to psychologists is not that we see differences, but that the Left does not. Two examples?
In our first story, two Oklahoma teenagers stole some drugs and firearms and drove over to a Texas ranch. No one knows for certain why they selected this particular ranch, but evidently their intentions were not good. A woman at the ranch spotted the boys approaching the residence; the boths were armed with rifles. She called her husband, the owner, who challenged the boys with some deer rifles of his own. The boys exchanged gunfire with him; the ranch owner struck one of the boys, but evidently did not kill him. The boys, understanding they had met with armed response, appear to have shot and killed themselves.
Crazy story, eh? Sadly, we will never know what the boys really wanted, why they chose to attack a total strangers home, and whether one killed the other or each boy committed suicide. The people on the ranch are apparently all right.
Headline in the Houston Chronicle: Charges Unlikely For Man Who Shot At Oklahoma Teens.
Right, because it was the homeowners fault. How about this for a headline: Man Defends Home From Two Gunmen. Same story, except our headline describes what happened.
Note: The Czar captured the headline around noon, Thursday. Since then, the headline has been changed to focus on the teens. Success. However, if you click on the provided link, the URL will reveal the original headline.
So whats the problem, and why did the Chron change their headline? Because the editor clearly understands that people glance at headlines and only elect to read some of the storiess first paragraph before reading the whole account. And a headline such as the one originally proposed is intended to cause the reader to roll his or her eyes and say Eh, another guy shot some kids. Probably with an assault rifle.
It is clear media bias; the problem is that the editor was utterly unaware that he was exhibiting it until someone corrected it for him.
Example two: you probably are all over this story already, in which a New Jersey dad posted a picture of his 11-year-old boy proudly holding an AR-class .22 caliber rifle on the front porch of their home. It is an impressive birthday gift for the young man.
Later, as the dad was out with his friend, the police pulled up in front of the home. The boys mom was challenged by a state child protection worker who demanded immediate entry into the home as the state worker insisted on inspecting all the guns in the home.
The mom naturally refused entry: no warrant, no entry. Further, the state worker refused to provide her name when asked for identificationin many states, by the way, it is illegal for a state worker to refuse a request for identifications.
Anyway, the mom got dad on the phonehe was minutes away, and he arrived home with his lawyer on the other line. The embarrassed police, by one account, quickly shuffled down the driveway and abandoned the state worker; theres a photo of them at the curb, by their vehicles, drinking coffee and pretending to be somewhere else. The state worker continued to demand entry to inspect the guns, and insisted that they could not deny her entry. Eventually, law and reason won out and she was sent away empty-handed.
Headline in the Houston Chronicle (as of Friday morning, before it gets changed): No Charges in Case of NJ Boy Pictured With Gun.
Okay, it isnt the reporter who drums up the headline (sometimes the reporters do, but only with approval); the editor selects the headline. The story as presented by the reporter is a very simple, direct account (congrats!); the headline, though, again encourages the reader to think that a kid has a gun and is getting off scott-free again.
Look, there can be no charges against the boy: he was in lawful possession of a rifle, and the photo itself demonstrates safe handling practices. There can be no charges against the dad and mom: police cannot enter your home without a warrant unless there is immediate peril. A photo of a smiling kid properly holding a rifle is not a scream, a plea for help, or a pile of drugs in direct view of the doorway. Small wonder the police, upon realizing what was going on, drifted away from the state worker and basically clocked out.
How about this for a headline: NJ Agency Refuses To Explain Attempted Illegal Entry.
The child welfare services agency has yet to explain why it acted at all, why it attempted to coerce a homeowner into allowing an illegal entry, attempted a forced entrywhen officers show up with weapons and armor showing and demand entry without a warrant, it constitutes forced entry even if they do not push open the doorrefused to provide identification, and falsely claimed that weapons in the home needed to be verified as registered when no registration is required in New Jersey. This incident happened earlier this week, and the agency in question refuses to answer any questions about a blatantly foolish and illegal action. To their credit, the Carneys Point Police Department appears to be cooperating with inquiries, and has quietly offered apologies to the homeowners (many of the officers on the department know the homeowners personally) but obviously is not required nor responsible to reveal the information since the complaint originated with a state agency.
The entire story is a load of crap, and the homeowner deserves no shortage of explanations, apologies, and assurances that this sort of terrifying embarassment will not happen again. For the Chron editor to suggest that charges could have been considered against the boy requires a detailed explanation as to why. There is nothing in the article about charging the boy other than the first sentence that indicates he will not be charged. No kidding: know who else wont be charged? The kids teacher at school, the meter reader, the mail carrier, and the tons of other people who did nothing wrong and are effectively bystanders in the story.
Bad, bad bias.
Okay, we get it. You lefty journalists hate guns. Now stop reminding us at every opportunity.
Suggestion for the Chron: there is a story on your site about the Cyprus bailout. How about this for a headline: No Gun Charges Will Be Filed Against Cypriot Boy Affected By Bailout.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.