A few thoughts on blog bias

I complain far too much about the relentless anti-gun bias in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Not only does this risk boring readers, but it's a major pain in the ass for me. I don't think of myself as a gun blogger, nor do I start out pissed off at the Inquirer every day. Often I wake up cheerful and happy, because it's a nice day. And then I pick up the Inquirer...

Seriously, folks, the paper might as well be edited by Sarah Brady.

Take a look for yourself. Yesterday, they surrounded their editorial with pictures of handguns:


Today, lobbying for gun issue is headlined as "a plea for peace" (right underneath a reminder of an anti-gun lobbying rally in Harrisburg):


If you read the story (ys, it's supposed to be news), it becomes clear that the Inquirer sees guns as an inherent evil and inherently violent objects which prevent peace, and that therefore community activism against violence becomes inseparable from anti-gun activism. Therefore, it seems that common decency, civic-mindedness, and even morality dictate that citizens who want peace -- all who wish to "do something" about "violence" -- should contact anti-gun groups and get involved. These groups are dutifully listed, in what the Inquirer probably considers a public service.


The unmistakable message is that getting rid of guns is a pressing matter involving civic virtue. I think it's highly significant that this is not in an editorial where it belongs, because that means the Inquirer believes it's not a matter of opinion, but of right and wrong. Analogous to a public health, life and death issue. Guns=death. Gun control=life. Guns=war. Gun control=peace.

Isn't self defense a life and death issue too?

But none of this is new. I've discussed this in too many posts to count, I've complained about the Inquirer's John Lennon-"Imagine" mindset, and I've offered just about every logical argument I can think of to rebut the folly of this kind of thinking.

So why do this? Why write another blog post on this redundant, endless topic?

There is a reason.

It's not because I have any illusions of winning a debate on the merits. The gun debate is intractable and hopeless, and as unwinnable as a debate on abortion or gay rights.

What bothers me is to see blatantly shrill partisanship routinely passed off as "journalism" day after day after day. It makes me very angry. Ironically, the thing that makes me so angry is that the Inquirer does not do this with other issues. If, for example, they run a piece on abortion or gay rights, they'll at least quote spokespeople from both sides.

You know; issues have two sides?

The way the gun issue is presented, you'd think there was only one side, and that the other was so marginal as to be unworthy of even a mention. Perhaps the NRA is considered too evil to be quoted. Seriously, you'd think the NRA was a mindless lobbying machine for an evil product, like "Big Tobacco." (I'm being generous there, as I suspect the Inquirer writers see the NRA as more akin to NAMBLA.) Why? The suspects who commit the shootings are quoted routinely along with their families, and the Inquirer goes out of its way to give them a fair shake.

Is the NRA more terrible than the criminals?

I can't recall the last time I saw a serious statement on the issue from any NRA spokesman or gun group representative in any Inquirer article on "gun violence." When the NRA is mentioned, it is only to characterize the inflexible nature of their opposition. Yet what gun owners and the NRA are saying is, simply, don't take away this important constitutional right.

In fact, it's a human right.

Yet you'll never see that argument presented.

All I can do is present it over and over again in my blog, like countless other bloggers. I wonder how many blog posts (and even blogs) might be rendered unnecessary if the Inquirer and other newspapers simply presented the other side.

So yes, on this issue I am more "partisan" than I'd like to be, but the Inquirer's relentless, emotionally sensationalized reportorial partisanship makes me feel obligated.

I am not saying the situation is completely hopeless, though. It was encouraging to read a piece about women learning to shoot, and today the Inquirer ran an op-ed by John R. Lott. Letters to the editor from gun owners are also run with some regularity. Obviously, the Inquirer editorial staff is aware that there's another side, thinks about it from time to time.

How I wish that even a glimmer of editorial fairness could filter down into the reporting from the street!

(After all, it is supposed to be "the news.")

posted by Eric on 09.26.06 at 10:05 AM


I need lots of guns!

But I don't imagine I need 26 identical Ruger automatics. Though I suppose I could have them custom engraved, one per letter of the alphabet...

Sigivald   ·  September 26, 2006 4:25 PM

What'd be really cool is if the Inqy would print more letters to the editor from Mary Rosh. You remember Mary, right?

Scholar Invents Fan To Answer His Critics

anon   ·  September 26, 2006 8:31 PM

I need 13 guns a year, exactly.

Also, it is true that Lott has done a pretty good job of killing his own credibility (though I'm not sure his statistics are as bad as people think).

Jon Thompson   ·  September 27, 2006 5:15 AM

Minorities in Philadelphia and their "elected" "leaders" still will not accept the values of getting a good education and personal responsibility. The Inqy is a biased weak rag of a paper and in desperate need of a solid divorce between it's editorial and news sections. The Inqy, and the Democrat party, continually do a disservice to all hard working and decent people by their constant lies and subversions of truth. Philadelphians, particularly minorities are trapped in a Plato's Cave like dissemination of "news" and information and do not know there is a greater light if they would for a minute pop their heads out of the cave. Mayor Street was correct in addressing a NAACP meeting when he stated "Want to know who is running this city??? The brothers and sisters are"!!! To which I agree, running this great city right into the ground.

Rightthinker   ·  September 27, 2006 12:28 PM

Notice it is NEVER about taking guns away from the CRIMINALS!!!

As ex-radio talk show host in HOUSTON (Pruett) said recently:

the police can put a chalk outline around your BODY -- but -- as for protecting you during your day -- they cannot.....

Gary P.   ·  September 27, 2006 1:39 PM

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