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I watched far too much CNN the past few days. I think it was out of loneliness, mostly. I was at the AAG conference by myself, in my own room, with only the vague idea that somewhere else in the city there were a few other Colgate people. And there was no internet. I hadn't realised how dependent I've become on it, but it seemed like TV was the next best thing, because it was feeding information in at me even if I couldn't control it very well or respond.

And I also realised why I don't like TV news. In theory, it would seem like having that added medium of video would make the news better. It's one less layer of interpretation that the reporter has to put on it, when they can show you what happened instead of having to try to describe it. But really the video is a handicap, because they have to always be showing something. Most of what you see is file footage. And that adds bias so easily. A picture is worth 1000 words, as the cliche says, but you can never find a picture that's got the exact 1000 right words. Every clip they show will have some connotation that will tilt the story that's being read over it in one direction or another.

But even given that, CNN can be shameless in its bias. They did a piece on the energy plan that Congress is considering, which has as one of its provisions allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. During the story they showed file footage of herds of majestic caribou running across the coastal plain, juxtaposed with filthy oil drilling facilities belching out smoke. Granted, I'm not sure what footage you'd show that would communicate the opposite position -- increased oil supply and reduced dependence on OPEC aren't exactly photogenic concepts. But unavoidable bias is still bias. But their segment on the campaign finance reform bill was even more blatant. The title graphic that ran alongside the footage of Congress said "putting the muzzle on campaign money." I think someone noticed, because the follow-up story the next day just said "campaign finance reform."


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