Media Bias on the Week of 10/15/2018

Worst examples of media bias and misinformation from this week:


Social media:

There was an absurd and offensive ad aimed at African Americans from a small PAC claiming to support Republican Congressman French Hill. Several reporters posted tweets implying that Hill was somehow responsible for the ad. Hill even ended up denouncing the ad. 

One example of this was the NYT’s Maggie Habberman. Maggie’s tweet was spread by countless others in the media. While she did later post a clarification, she left the original tweet up and it continued to spread. This is a common theme among journalists on social media: they constantly post false or misleading stories on social media, then correct later to a much smaller audience.


1) The NYT wrote an article implying that Jared Kushner had callously dismissed the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi and other terrible acts committed by the Saudis according to an anonymous former official. The NYT gave very specific details about Kushner’s thought process:

Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, has been urging the president to stand by Prince Mohammed, according to a person close to the White House and a former official with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Kushner has argued that the outrage over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing will pass, just as it did after other Saudi errors like the kidnapping of the prime minister of Lebanon and the killing of a busload of children in Yemen by a Saudi airstrike.

Quite a few journalists spread the story and attacked Kushner over it. However, after the WH denied the story, the NYT stealth edited the article removing these specific claims without even noting the update.

Some of the better journalists were forced to correct their initial reactions and note the change.

2) The Washington Post published an article suggesting Georgetown Prep, the high school that was relentlessly smeared during the Kavanaugh saga, is now seeking a new Director for Alumni Relations. The article claimed that the opening was new and related to the bad press the school had received during from the Kavanaugh stories. 

Only problem? As the correction on the article now states, the school actually started looking for someone to fill this position back in July. Something that they should have clearly checked before publishing this piece. 

UPDATE: The email exchange between the school and the WaPo reporter suggests WaPo knew that the job posting was from July when they published the story:

Fact checkers:

1) Politifact rated an ad from Arizona Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally as “Mostly False”. The claim Politifact took issue with: 

"While we were in harm’s way in uniform, Kyrsten Sinema was protesting us in a pink tutu and denigrating our service."

However, in the actual article, Politifact acknowledges: “Sinema was a law student at the time who participated in a series of vigils and anti-war protests in Arizona. In at least one of those instances, she wore what looks like a pink tutu.”

Whether participating in anti-war protests such as the ones mentioned denigrates the service of soldiers is a matter of opinion. However, it is not an unreasonable opinion or contrary to the facts so it’s rather obvious that there is no justification for a fact-checker to call the claim mostly false. Politifact is choosing to give Sinema the benefit of the doubt, but her opponent doesn’t have to and doing so does not qualify as fact checking. 

2) Politifact was also forced to retract an article defending Senator Claire McCaskill (D). Politifact had given a false rating to an ad that suggested McCaskill had said normal people could afford private planes. Politifact essentially argued that the ad must be taking her comment out of context, but they were forced to retract their “false” rating after an interview from 2017 and further video showed that the ad was actually quoting her correctly. Rather ridiculously, Politifact still only changed the rating to “half true”. 


Outlets and publications have a right to publish whatever opinion writers they choose, but they should be honest about the views of those writers. The Washington Post claims to have a balanced stable of opinion writers, but two of the main authors they identify as being on the right (Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot) have actually become dishonest anti-right activists. 

Boot dishonestly tried to frame the criticism of him and Rubin as simply being about their opposition to Trump, but I explained in a twitter thread why that wasn’t accurate.

The criticism of both Boot and Rubin relates to their dishonest and one-sided attacks against almost every position and person on the right and their unwavering defense of the left, it has little to do with Trump.

Some easy examples from this week:

Max Boot dismissed and downplayed examples of mob behavior on the left over the last few weeks, but made sure to attack an example of such behavior on the right.

Jennifer Rubin commended Kamala Harris’ (D) tax plan for focusing on cutting taxes on the middle class and attacked the GOP for not doing so, but she wrote almost half-a-dozen articles attacking the GOP for passing a bill that cut taxes on the overwhelming majority of the middle class.

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