Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bias, same issue...

"[Biased] stories [on HIV] were scaring the hell out of millions of Americans. In the beginning, it probably couldn’t be helped. Maybe AIDS really would start to spread among heterosexuals, through sex, from one to another to another and on and on. In the early days, I interviewed “experts” who told me exactly that—and I put it on the air. Who knew?

But after the virus was around for a while, I started to wonder: where are all these straight Americans with AIDS? I didn’t know any. My friends and neighbors didn’t know any. I had read about two brothers with hemophilia who lived in my area and who died of AIDS because the clotting factor they used to control bleeding was infected with HIV. But where was this epidemic I kept reading about in the newspapers and hearing about on the television news?

There was no escaping the fact that the news I was getting from the press and TV didn’t jibe with reality. When I read a study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (the same research team in Washington, D.C., that had written about the real homeless versus the homeless portrayed on television), I understood why.

The center monitored network TV stories in 1992 and concluded that “TV’s visual portrait of AIDS victims has little in common with real life.” The center compared the people on TV, using only the information provided in the story, with “real-world data on AIDS victims compiled by the Centers for Disease Control”:

• During the period studied, 6 percent of the people with AIDS shown on the evening news were gay men. But in real life 58 per cent were gay men.
• On TV, 16 percent were blacks and Hispanics. But in real life 46 percent were black or Hispanic.
• On TV, 2 percent of the AIDS sufferers were IV drug users. In real life 23 percent were.

“Thus, the risk groups the news audience sees are very different from their real-world counterparts,” was the report’s conclusion.
As with the homeless, television was back in the business of prettifying reality. Make the victims look more like you and me, and maybe we can drum up some support for their cause while we’re drumming up some support for our ratings. And unlike other ailments, like cancer and heart disease, AIDS had civil rights. “How did you get it?” was considered an uncivil question.
In 1991, when Magic Johnson told the world he had HIV, Dan Rather looked into the camera and proved once again that it was more important to be politically correct than factually correct.
“As correspondent Richard Threlkeld reports, the perception may finally be catching up with the reality. That reality is: AIDS is not, quote, ‘just a gay disease!’”
Then Threlkeld, a smart, veteran newsman, narrated, over pictures of Magic: “Magic Johnson’s just the man to educate the rest of us about AIDS. He’s not a drug user. Neither are most AIDS victims. He’s heterosexual. So are four out of ten AIDS victims these days.”
Let’s set aside some important assumptions Threlkeld casually makes about how Magic did or did not get the virus. Because the fact is, Richard Threlkeld knows nothing about how Magic Johnson got HIV.
When Threlkeld came on the air that night and reported that four out often people with AIDS are heterosexuals, I got a certain impression. My guess is so did most of the people who watched the CBS Evening News that night.
When a reporter tells you that four out of ten people with AIDS are heterosexuals, it’s reasonable to think he’s talking about straight, non-IV-drug-using Americans who are getting AIDS through sexual intercourse.

But that’s not at all what Richard Threlkeld was talking about because most of that 40 percent Threlkeld cites got the virus not simply because they were heterosexual but because they were shooting up or having unprotected sex with people who were shooting up. The other heterosexuals apparently were patients in hospitals who got transfusions tainted with HIV, hemophiiacs, maybe even “heterosexual” babies born to mothers who were HIV positive. You would have to include all those groups in order to say four out of ten HIV cases involve heterosexuals.
But what if 40 percent of the people with HIV are Protestants? Or 40 percent have brown eyes? Or 40 percent have dark hair and are under six foot two? No reporter in his right mind would tell his audience, “He’s Protestant and so are four out of ten victims these days.” Or, “He has brown eyes and so have four out often victims these days.”
Harry Stein, a good friend and author of How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right- Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace), wrote in his TV Guide column in 1994 that “AIDS is presented not just as a hideous disease, but as a gauge of our collective humanity.” That is precisely why so many reporters would not ask, “How did you get it?” It some how seemed inhumane. It seemed as if we were not sympathetic.
So when Dave Marash did his Magic Johnson story for Nightline on ABC, he said, “Our curiosity about people with AIDS has often been limited to one hostile question: How did you get it?”
Why in the world is that a hostile question? If Dave Marash did a story about lung cancer, he certainly wouldn’t consider it “hostile” to ask, “How did you get it?”—especially if he knew the answer was “Three packs of Marlboros a day for twenty-five years, Dave.” Dave, and every other reporter, would relish the opportunity to take on Big Tobacco, given the misery smoking has caused.
But AIDS is different. It’s off limits. Only AIDS is shrouded in political correctness. We might offend gays if we ask, “How did you get it?” We fear we may look uncaring and without compassion if we ask, “How did you get it?”

In 1996, Jacqueline Adams did a story for CBS News about teenagers with AIDS and reported that the problem was mainly the result of these kids having unprotected sex.
“Ten years ago, at age fourteen, Luna [Ortiz] was infected with the HIV virus, the very first time he had sex unprotected sex,” Adams reported.
Then she introduced us to a woman named Patricia Fleming, an AIDS activist, who said, “At least one American teenager is becoming infected every hour of every day.” (Six months later, in September of 1996, another CBS News reporter, Diana Olick, reported, “The number of HIV-infected teens continues to rise. Every hour two kids under the age of twenty are infected.” Two—not one! As with the homeless story the numbers keep going higher and higher until they bear no relationship whatsoever to reality. Stay tuned!)
There was one word missing from Jacqueline Adams’s story. Never, not even once, did she or any of the people she interviewed ever utter the word “gay” or “homosexual.” This is quite remarkable: a story about AIDS and unprotected sex, yet the reporter doesn’t tell us any thing about the sexual orientation of the person with HIV. [If he was fourteen it was probably something anthropologists call the "homosexual mentorship." You won't hear anything like that in the Old Press though.]
The closest anyone came was when Luna said, “I wasn’t educated about it [AIDS]. The only thing I knew was Rock Hudson died a year before.” Was that the clue that Luna was gay? I don’t know. Adams never told us.
By leaving out the crucial fact that almost all of these teenage AIDS cases involve homosexual sex or IV drugs or tainted blood, we are left with the impression that straight, middle-class heterosexual teens are being infected with HIV “every hour of every day.”
It’s simply not happening! That anyone is still contracting HIV is a tragedy of huge proportions. That the gay lobby would try to mislead us is understandable. That the media go along is disgraceful.
[. . . . .]
It’s a sad story. But sometimes I get the impression that the media that have helped spread the epidemic of fear would love to spread it just a little more. Sometimes I get the impression that they’d like to write a headline that shouts: “AIDS Epidemic Takes Toll on the Middle Class.” Then it really would be everyone’s disease. Not just the disease of junkies and gays and poor black people in the rural South. Then no one would be safe, just as the media have been telling us for so many years. And then, finally, we would all be equal.”
(Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How
the Media Distort the News (Regnery, 2002)
By Bernard Goldberg :81-84, 87)

"And then, finally, we would all be equal.”

The radical egalitarianism of the social Left is false. Yes, it is radical and it is egalitarianism. I note this for some fellows who do not seem to understand such words.

A similar public relations bias in England,
“The embarrassing truth about the government's Aids campaign is that it has failed to alter the sexual behaviour of the groups most at risk because everyone was finger-wagged, and disbelief has set in."
(The Sunday Times
July 26, 1992, Sunday
Byline: Tom Mangold)

It seems typical in the West. In the Old Press, fear mongering sells just as well as other crass and base appeals that they make. While the politicians tend to fancy themselves as the same sort of elite as the Old Press and celebrities. Apparently, despite the fact that it is a losing issue politically there are those politicians who will stick with it because that is their type of socialite society and "gay rights" seems to be the latest pet cause for the socialites on the Left. (As Eugenics was in the past....)