Defining Bias #6: Using True Facts To Draw False Conclusions

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Part six of an eight-part series explaining The 8 Categories of Media Bias.

Violation #6
Using True Facts To Draw False Conclusions

Media reports frequently use true facts to draw erroneous conclusions.

Even if all the facts are accurate, it’s still possible for journalists to draw illogical conclusions. To err is human, right?

Watch Haviv Rettig Gur of the Times of Israel, and  Michelle Chabin of USA Today and other papers discuss with HonestReporting how reporters can use true facts to arrive at false conclusions.

APlogoEXAMPLE: After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected in March, 2015, Associated Press reporter Dan Perry cast aspersion on the results because Palestinians were unable to vote.

But among Israelis themselves, there is increasing angst over the fact that their country of 8 million people also controls some 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians who have no voting rights for its parliament.

 

If the 2 million Palestinians of Gaza — a territory dominated indirectly by Israel — were added to the equation, then together with the 2 million Arab citizens of “Israel proper” the Holy Land would be home to a population of some 12 million, equally divided between Arabs and Jews.

 

Of the Arabs, only a third have voting rights. These are the “Israeli Arabs” who live in the areas that became Israel in the 1948-49 war, which established the country’s borders.

The facts are absolutely true: West Bank Palestinians aren’t Israeli citizens and cannot vote in Israeli elections. But it doesn’t mean Israel disenfranchised them.

The reason the Palestinians living in the PA didn’t vote was because the Palestinians choose their own leaders in Palestinian Authority elections. Palestinians haven’t voted in national elections for their own president or legislature since 2006; elections scheduled for 2010 were never held because of Hamas-Fatah feuding, but that’s an internal Palestinian problem.

 

EXAMPLE: During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, critics said that Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system was so successful, it made IDF military operations unnecessary and disproportionate. One example was a tweet by Anthony De Rosa, then a social media editor for Reuters. One reader’s response abruptly ended the conversation.

 

DeRosa

 

 

EXAMPLE: People like BBC reporter Jeremy Bowen or political commentator Peter Beinart claiming that Israel “occupies” Gaza. The reasoning behind the claim is that Israel (and Egypt) control the strip’s land and sea borders, as well as its airspace. But a closer look at the logic behind the arguments shows that Israel does not occupy Gaza.

During the 2005 Gaza disengagement, Israel dismantled all settlements, evacuated all settlers, and withdrew all IDF soldiers from the strip. The blockade came two years later in response to Hamas’ violent takeover.

Border checkpoints are not a function of “occupation” and military operations are a right of self-defense against hostile terror activity. Regarding Gaza’s air space, internationally sanctioned coalitions established no-fly zones in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, and Libya without any legal questions of occupation. Neither did anyone suggest that the U.S. “occupied” Cuba when it blockaded the island during the 1962 missile crisis.

 

Click to learn more about each individual category.

The 8 Violations of Media Objectivity

  1. Misleading definitions: Prejudicing readers through language.
  2. Imbalanced reporting: Distorting news through disproportionate coverage.
  3. Opinions disguised as news: Inappropriately injecting opinion or interpretation into coverage.
  4. Lack of context: Withholding a frame of reference for readers.
  5. Selective omission: Reporting certain events over others, or withholding key details.
  6. Using true facts to draw false conclusions: Infecting news with flawed logic.
  7. Distortion of facts: Getting the facts wrong.
  8. Lack of transparency: Failing to be open and accountable to readers.

See also the introduction to this series and some final thoughts and acknowledgements, wrapping the concepts together and raising awareness for news literacy.

 

“Red Lines: The Eight Categories of Media Bias,” is available on Amazon for purchase as an e-book.

 

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