Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bias at the Seattle Times - Even worse than first thought

When I first challenged Seattle Times editor David Birdwell over the coverage of Gerry Studds' (Democrat-Ill) death and the omission of Studds' party affiliation, even I believed that the Times had simply reprinted an Associated Press story that had made the omission. I took issue with both the Times' decision to not insert Studds' party affiliation into the obituary, as well as Birdwell's decision not to highlight Studds' party affiliation in the headline, as he had done in July when disgraced Republican Spokane Mayor Jim West died. Birdwell's double-standard was glaring after changing the headline as reported on July 22 so that the Sunday addition of the obituary would highlight the corrupt homosexual West, who had been kicked out of office for offering jobs for sex, as a Republican.

I felt that Birdwell was displaying a blatant example of bias and application of a double standard aimed at associating one homosexual engaging in sleazy acts with the Republican Party, while shielding the Democrat Party from the hypocrisy surrounding one of their own gay child molesters, Gerry Studds.

Former Spokane Mayor Jim West dies
Jim West, Republican politician, dead at 55

First openly gay congressman dies at age 69

But now it appears that the Times did more than simply reprint a poorly written AP story that neglected to identify Studds' party. In fact, it appears that Birdwell or someone at the Times changed the AP story to remove parts of the original story that would have been damaging to the Democrats. I'm sure Birdwell would argue that they were cut to reduce the size of the obituary, but you decide on the impact of the changes.

Here is what appears to be the full story as written by Jay Lindsay of the Associated Press reported:

Obituary: Gerry Studds / First openly gay person in Congress, re-elected six times

So what did Birdwell and the Seattle Times not want their readers to see from the original AP story? Here is some of what the Times cut:

"... said Mr. Hara, who married Mr. Studds shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004.

...Mr. Studds called the relationship with the teenage page, which included a trip to Europe, "a very serious error in judgment." But he did not apologize and defended the relationship as a consensual relationship with a young adult.

...Republicans accused Democrats of hypocrisy for savaging Mr. Foley while saying little about Mr. Studds at that time.

... Mr. Studds was never ashamed of the relationship with the page."

So the Seattle Times didn't just reprint a biased story, but they made the story even more slanted by removing the comparisons between Foley and Studds, and removing the charge of Democrat hypocrisy that would have made Studds' party affiliation obvious.

And apparently David Birdwell didn't have any problem keeping this editing job a secret from me in our half-dozen email exchanges. Obviously he assumed that the Times edits to further slant a slanted story would be their little secret.

Birdwell challenged the fact that I don't regularly read the Times. But if you can't trust a newspaper to report the whole story, then why bother?

I told Birdwell that I don't read the Times or the PI, but that doesn't mean I don't read newspapers. I simply choose to read papers that haven't lost their credibility.

Oh, and while I'm no expert on Copyright laws, I find it interesting that the Times can take a copyrighted story from the Associated Press, cut some stuff out of it, and then copyright it to the Seattle Times. In school they'd call that plagiarism, wouldn't they?

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