Networks hype Akin, with good reason: Mediology, Aug. 23

FROM THE RIGHT


Akin, everywhere on TV---which is where he should be. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden) EDWARDSVILLE INTELLIGENCER OUT; THE ALTON TELEGRAPH OUT (Christian Gooden)

NBC, CBS and ABC’s evening and morning shows have devoted an astonishing 88 minutes (or 40 segments) of coverage to Congressman Akin’s “legitimate rape” remark. Over a similar three day period, the networks allowed a scant 19 minutes (or ten segments) to a racially charged gaffe by the Vice President of the United States.

Some methodological difficulties here: Fox News and its leading personalities haven’t exactly ignored the controversy. As the world’s foremost and celebrated expert on the pronouncements of Fox’s Sean Hannity on l’affaire Akin, I can tell you that he has devoted a tidy sum of minutes to the story. A Nexis search of Fox programming for Monday and Tuesday showed some sustained and passionate interest in the story: mentions or segments on the shows of Greta Van Susteren, “The Five,” “Hannity” (of course) as well as others.

Another consideration: It’s not as if any of the news orgs are spinning Akin stories out of empty calories; rather, Republicans are debating the studio lights out of this issue, suggesting that Akin bag the race, encouraging Akin to bag the race, demanding that Akin bag the race.

The other problem is the validity of the equivalency between Akin and Biden. It’s a Gabby Douglas stretch. Jonah Lehrer alert: The following graphs, with minor revisions, appeared in a previous work of mine:

The case for Akin-Biden equivalence: In both instances, a politician said something dumb and offensive.
The case against Akin-Biden equivalence: Biden was making a rhetorical point, trying to put an exclamation point on a populist attack on the opposition. He made a stupid word choice, one for which his history of gaffing offers no defense or mitigation whatsoever.

Akin, on the other hand, was not punctuating a rhetorical flourish. He was discussing in calm tones a matter of public policy. In doing so, he made claims that were phenomenally at odds with science — both the claim that pregnancies resulting from rape were “really rare” as well as the claim that the female body has some Wonder Woman-like capacity to shut down conception in the event of rape. These irresponsible misimpressions of reproductive science are closely connected to Akin’s policy prescriptions on abortion.

Whitlock says that Akin is guilty of a “gaffe.” If only.

*Want to hear a telltale gaffe? Check out the video below, in which NewsBusters catches Touré in a moment of confusion: Am I a member of the Obama team?

FROM THE LEFT

*Media Matters for America (MMfA) fillets the New York Times for inventing “differences between Romney and Ryan on anti-women policies.” The allegedly offending story contains the following passage, which, according to MMfA, suggests that Paul Ryan favors anti-women policies while Mitt Romney does not:

On Tuesday, Republicans approved platform language for next week’s nominating convention that calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no explicit exceptions for cases of rape or incest. That is a view more restrictive than Mr. Romney’s, who has said that he supports exceptions to allow abortions in cases of rape.

Mr. Ryan’s more conservative views, which have been reflected in votes that would restrict family planning financing overseas, cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood and repeal President Obama’s health care law, have come into sharp relief as Mr. Akin struggles for his political life. Mr. Akin and Mr. Ryan each have voted in this Congress for 10 abortion-restricting measures as well as those that limited other family planning services.

Hold on a moment, back up: I thought it was the conservatives who hated the New York Times. MMfA, what on earth are you doing? Why’s the New York Times in this section? Don’t you know who your friends are?

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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