James Taranto on Media Bias

James TarantoJames Taranto of the Wall Street Journal compiles a summary of left-leaning media bias in reports on last week’s Hamdan decision. I think the summary deserves our attention:

  • “The Supreme Court on Thursday repudiated the Bush administration’s plan to put Guantánamo detainees on trial before military commissions, ruling broadly that the commissions were unauthorized by federal statute and violated international law. . . . The decision was . . . a sweeping and categorical defeat for the administration.“–New York Times
  • “The Supreme Court yesterday struck down the military commissions President Bush established to try suspected members of al-Qaeda, emphatically rejecting a signature Bush anti-terrorism measure and the broad assertion of executive power upon which the president had based it.”–Washington Post
  • “In a sharp rebuke of President George W. Bush’s tactics in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as unlawful the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.”–Reuters
  • “The Supreme Court rebuked President Bush and his anti-terror policies Thursday, ruling that his plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law.”–Associated Press
  • “The Supreme Court on Thursday sharply rejected the Bush administration’s use of military commissions to try suspected terrorists, eliminating a central pillar of the president’s anti-terrorism strategy. In a blunt dismissal of President Bush’s claim that he had unfettered authority to try enemy combatants captured in the war on terror, the court ruled 5-3 that military trials of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba violated domestic and international laws.”–Chicago Tribune

Notice the language. According to these “reports,” President Bush was “rebuked,” “rejected,” “repudiated,” and “defeated” by the Supreme Court. It’s important to remember that the quotations above are not excerpts from opinion editorials but comprise news reports on the decision. In other words, the news reports themselves (which are supposed to be unbiased) are interpreting the Supreme Court’s decision as a repudiation of President Bush, even though subsequent analyses of the decision have shown that opinions are divided on the significance of the decision.

Is there any question that mainstream media outlets exhibit bias against President Bush? I don’t think there is. Is it any wonder that public support for the war effort is at an all-time low when this is the kind of press that the commander-in-chief gets?

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