-By Warner Todd Huston
CNN indulged a classic left media tactic by misleading with a headline in a recent piece on former Governor Sarah Palin. The headline, if read by itself, seems to be saying that Sarah Palin delivered a “gaffe-filled message,” when the truth is that her message talked about gaffes, but wasn’t “filled” with them per se. The effect was that the headline made Palin look worse than the story itself did. If all one read was the headline, one would get a far different opinion of what was going on than if one read the story that went with it.
On Nov. 26, CNN delivered this headline on its Political Ticker blog: Palin delivers a gaffe-filled message.
Think about that headline. Doesn’t it say to you that Palin delivered a bunch of gaffes in her message? If all you did was read that headline, you’d think she made a fool of herself with all sorts of incorrect statements in it. One suspects that CNN fully realized this fact.
The whole story arose after an appearance that Palin did on the Glenn Beck show last week. On that show, while speaking of the shelling that the North Koreans perpetrated on South Korea, Palin accidentally said that our allies were the North Koreans. Clearly she simply had a slip of the tongue and meant the South Koreans were our allies, not the North.
How am I so sure she knew the difference? Because not only did she quickly correct herself, but she had correctly identified which Korea was which multiple times in the minutes prior to her slip of the tongue. It wasn’t as if she mentioned the Koreas once and incorrectly at that. It is clear that she understands which is which.
Naturally in its report CNN forgot to mention that Palin was correctly identifying the Koreas multiple times before the gaffe.
In any case, after Palin got illicitly lambasted by the left for a simple slip of the tongue, she issued one of her famous Facebook posts in reply to her critics. In it Palin delineated many of the verbal gaffes that Barack Obama issued since he began running for president and pointed out that the Old Media never made a big deal about all these many gaffes made by Obama.
So, let’s get back to that headline, “Palin delivers a gaffe-filled message.”
While it is strictly true that Palin’s Facebook message is filled with gaffes, it is not a “gaffe filled message” in the way that the phrase is generally used. After all if someone says that one issued a “gaffe filled message” people assume that the person issuing the message is making multiple gaffes in that message. They don’t immediately assume that said message contains a list of someone else’s gaffes. They assume that the message issuer is making mistakes.
This notion is, of course, what CNN hoped to promulgate. They hoped to fool people that only read headlines into thinking that Palin made multiple gaffes in a message. This headline was meant to bash Sarah Palin.
Sadly, misleading with a headline is a very common Old Media tactic. They can bash with a headline — all the while assuming a large percentage of their readers will read just the headline and skip the story — and still claim to be giving “the whole story” by adding a story that seems to contradict the headline.
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Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.
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