Seldom does any news media organization make its absence of fairness and objectivity on a topic so obvious that there isn’t some room for argument, but Bloomberg managed to scale the heights with its headline to a story by reporter Heidi Przybyla. Her report covered the results of a Bloomberg poll designed to create a profile of the members of the Tea Party movement, which has been holding multiple demonstrations across the country to protest passage of President Obama’s health care reform bill.
The poll results themselves were unremarkable, given what we already have learned about the Tea Partiers’ objectives and objections. Over 90% of those polled by Bloomberg said that they feared that the nation was turning to socialism, with the federal government trying to control too many aspects of Americans’ lives. In answer to another question, 70% felt that Obama’s Administration needed to put more resources into job creation. So Przybyla, her editors and Bloomberg’s management chose to headline the report with this:
“Tea Party Advocates Who Scorn Socialism Want a Government Job”
The statement is, of course, not a proper headline, but an accusation. It is a slanted conclusion designed to pre-dispose readers toward an anti-Tea Party point of view before reviewing the results of a poll that supposedly was intended to enlighten them so they could reach their own conclusions. The headline misrepresents the findings for the clear purpose of making those polled look like fools and hypocrites.
The primary problem with the headline, however, is that it is, beyond any question, a lie.
Those who answered the poll said nothing about wanting “a government job.” What was favored was more government spending on job creation, which need not involve socialism, and is a both a reasonable policy preference and one that is consistent with the government’s role in America for at least a century. To name only the most glaring example, the infrastructure of the United States is crumbling, with bridges, highways, airports and sewer systems already decaying to the point that it threatens, safety, health, transportation and commerce. All studies indicates that it will take trillions of dollars of reconstruction to forestall multiple catastrophes, and the responsibility for infrastructure (unlike health care) is a bedrock government function. Infrastructure projects create jobs with gusto. A poll response that suggested that the Obama administration was misguidedly focusing resources on socialist-style government take-overs of such industries as banking, automobile manufacture and health care was in no way imaginable inconsistent with the view that job creation is a more necessary, desirable and responsible use of taxpayer funds.
So here is a quiz: Since the Bloomberg headline to Przybyla’s story does not tell its readers what the poll actually shows, what does it tell us?
a. Bloomberg is so determined to slime the Tea Party movement for having the audacity to protest the health care bill that it is willing to resort to unethical journalistic practices that will end any pretence of objectivity and fairness.
b. It is Bloomberg’s employees, not the Tea Partiers, who don’t comprehend the difference between private sector jobs created by government projects and “government jobs.”
c. After getting fired, the air traffic controller who let his young son guide planes from the control tower at JFK joined Bloomberg as a headline editor, and let Junior compose this one.
d. All of Bloomberg’s editors were at a Tea Party rally when Przybyla posted her piece.
e. Don’t trust this website.
I’d pick a., b., and e. myself, but I have another theory. When the Tea Party movement was getting started, several of its more enthusiastic than informed participants were recorded expressing the inconsistent views that the government had no business meddling in health care and that Medicare was just fine the way it is, thanks. This seeming unawareness on the part of some protesters that Medicare is a government program was gleefully used by sneering pro-Obamacare talking heads to “prove” that all Tea Party supporters were dolts and yahoos. I think Bloomberg took its poll expecting and hoping that the results would give them a similar theme to discredit the Tea Party protests, and when it didn’t, its staff imagined one and reported it anyway.
e. No doubt about it.
[Thanks to Best of the Web for flagging the story and the headline.]