It may not be surprising that media outlets depicted Clinton along partisan lines in their coverage of her recent interview. Fox News and The Daily Caller portray Clinton as weak or a sore loser, whereas CNN and CBS make her look more responsible and blame Trump.
What’s fascinating is that the data they used to report their stories all comes from the same place, from her interview. They even included many of the same passages, yet how she’s portrayed varies greatly depending on the outlet.
How does that happen? Slant! Reporters cherry-pick the quotes they include or omit, and use placement to favor certain statements over others.
Take a look at the information included or omitted by each of the four outlets we analyzed:
Let’s dissect a couple of examples. First, there’s Clinton assigning blame for her election loss. The Daily Caller’s headline says she “blames loss” on “white people.” The article does not include portions of the interview in which Clinton took responsibility for her own mistakes. Also, what she actually said was that Trump “was quite successful in referencing a nostalgia that would give hope”...to “millions of white people.” That’s not exactly the same as her “blaming” white people.
In contrast, CBS’ headline says Clinton talked about “why she lost and ‘the most important mistake she made.” In other words, it begins with her taking responsibility, which portrays her more positively, as opposed to her blaming others.
Second, consider how the outlets describe – or leave out – Clinton’s comments on Trump’s inaugural speech. CNN’s headline and lead both cite Clinton saying Trump’s speech was, “a cry from the white nationalist gut.” Featuring this comment makes Trump look bad, like he was catering to a group associated with white supremacy, at a moment when he could have sought to unify the country.
The Daily Caller, however, does not mention this criticism of Trump, and Fox News doesn’t mention it until its 17th line, which portrays Trump in a more positive light.
So, the outlets have different biases, and they’re all strongly biased to one side or the other—and none is balanced. That’s why they all earned such low total integrity ratings: ranging between 36 and 54 percent (yes, that’s out of 100).
And while it’s nothing new that the Daily Caller and Fox have a different slant than CNN and CBS, as readers we may not be aware of how that can happen. So what’s the lesson? Next time you’re reading news coverage or even listening to a story in your own life, ask yourself: “What data are they focusing on? What might they be leaving out? And what might I need to know to get a balanced view?”
Jens Erik Gould
Jens is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News