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October 19, 2004

Where The Buck Never Stops: More Media Bias

newsweek

This lead for Newsweek’s on-line campaign coverage is a good example of how the media gives Bush a free pass.

In presenting two articles comparing the candidates qualifications, it contrasts Bush the CEO with Kerry the Senator. Whether or not anyone has thought it through, juxtaposing Kerry’s twenty year Senate history alongside Bush’s White House tenure has the consequence of of implying equivalency. That’s interesting because Bush has had little or no background managing a business — especially in comparison to how long Kerry has been a senator. (And that’s even with credit for a term as governor of Texas.)

However, that’s just the beginning.

The Kerry heading accuses the Senator of a gross problem with his professional competency. If the intention of the magazine was to critically evaluate the Senator’s record, that’s fine. As an article featured as a companion piece to the Bush story, however, the Kerry charge is made with no offsetting question about the President’s capabilities. If Newsweek were subjecting the President to equivalent scrutiny, the Bush lead would have to deal with whether the American shareholders felt Bush deserved rehiring. Instead, Kerry is being judged for his actions while the decision on Bush is completely random.

Given what’s going on in the text, the choice of picture is interesting. For people who watched the debates, Bush was revealed as someone more inexperienced and seemingly less qualified than Kerry. That being so, you’d never know from this. The photo completely recasts Bush as the dominant figure. He’s firmly in charge, holding down the center, shifting Kerry leftward. (Imagine that!) With the extended jaw, the forceful, squared up stance, and his arm and hand controlling Kerry’s hand, once again, Bush is the portrait of strength.

And, of course, he’s having no trouble doing the talking.

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