Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Study in Media Bias

Chicago Police officer Michael Mette was recently sentenced to five years in prison for punching out a drunken college student in Dubuque, Iowa two years ago. The judge did not dispute the facts about the incident. The drunk and a friend followed Mette, his brother, and some friends to Mette's brother's house. The drunk started the fight with two or three pushes to Mette's chest, which Mette answered with one solid punch to the jaw of the drunk, knocking him to the ground. Yet the judge thinks Mette should have walked away, even though Mette was being attacked on his own brother's front lawn.

The Chicago Tribune doesn't report it as a news story, but there is an opinion piece by John Kass bluntly headlined "This officer's sentence is hogwash." He tells Mette's side of the story -- again, the judge did not dispute the facts -- and portrays the drunken student as a child of privilege being protected by the court. A Chuck Goudie report on WLS-Channel 7 (Chicago's ABC affiliate) presents a very similar story with the headline "CPD officer sentenced to 5 years in Iowa." The other major television stations apparently did not cover the story (I'm not going to bother checking radio stations).

The Chicago Sun-Times takes a radically different approach. Their news story bears the headline "Cop gets 5 years in beating of student." In fact, staff reporter Norman Parish uses the word beating three times in his short article though it's conspicuously absent from the Tribune and WLS coverage (except in a quote from Mette about getting, not giving, a beating). It's just another police brutality story to Parish, concluding with this sentence: "This latest incident follows a string of allegations of beatings of civilians by off-duty Chicago Police officers."

Now, I don't know any more about this story than what I've read from these three sources, so I can't say who is correct. But the treatments by the Tribune and the Sun-Times are so different that clearly someone is advancing an agenda. Choose your news sources carefully, everyone!


Anonymous said...

having been a police officer for 28 years I knew that the news media can not be trusted. There is always an agenda which means we never get the whole truth. Just the truth that they want to peddle.
Thank you for posting this. It's good to see that there are still independant minds out here :)

Anonymous said...

The county attorney summarized the actual court transcripts:

Chicago may want this officer free but I sure hope they don't have children to raise while he is running loose. This type of behaviour is usually repeated.

Can anyone find earlier complaints like maybe from 2001 or 2002 involving a 17 year old high school student? ABC7 news might want to know.

This could get more interesting yet...