The Defensive Index

The Defensive Index

: I was listening to NPR news last night as I drove home and heard their report on Bush’ speech in Ohio. “Bush defended his…” they said. And I realized I hear that constantly. The lead wasn’t “Bush proposed….” or “Bush declared….” Support him or now, I want to hear what he has to say, what he’s going to do. But by putting him on the defensive, it’s a negative spin, of course.

So I went to GoogleNews and did a search:

> Bush defended – 5560 stories

> Kerry defended – 2800 stories

The same ratio applies at Newsbot. Of course, as a sitting President, Bush has to “defend” a whole government; Kerry has less to “defend.” But still, it’s a tiresome spin.

  • http://www.jamieleigh.net Jamie Leigh

    A ‘tiresome spin’, isn’t that an oxy moron? Maybe it ‘s just me.
    This election is far more about the person than the issues which is something that will be interesting to see how it all pans out. As someone who did witness 9.11 on many personal levels, and hasn’t seen any of these ads that Bush has been using for his campaign, I can’t comment on how I feel about them, but honestly, I’m not concerned over it either way. In exchange for my lack of sleep as well as free time, I get enough pop-up’s and ads through work on my personal website http://www.jamieleigh.net, and the websites connected to that to ensure I don’t forget who is my President, lol.
    The internet, what a powerful tool ; I’m so glad to call it my creative platform’s first true niche.
    I miss the days of hope and inspiration, I truly do.
    Jamie Leigh
    The Official Jamie Leigh Website

  • Mumblix Grumph

    I sometimes listen to NPR on the commute, but it’s getting harder and harder to stay with it. Maybe I’m just “lucky” but I always seem to get a speech or discussion about how Bush is a lousy president. The commentators all seem to be in a contest to toss out as many negative adjectives as possible to describe the President.
    Then I get the environmental shows that basically tell us that we’re all going to die because of pollution, and other terrors brought about because Bush knows some people in the energy industry.
    I only listen to it anymore when the endless spate of commercials on talk radio goes on too long. No commercials on NPR, Unless you count those “sponsorship” announcements at the start of each show

  • http://www.elflife.com/ Carson Fire

    Heh, for some strange reason this morning I was compelled to do a search on “hate Bush” and “hate Clinton”. Not only a huge disparity in the number of references (the lion’s share going to “hate Bush”, of course), but BOTH seemed to be dominated by Democratic writers — accusing others of hating Clinton, and avowing hatred for Bush.
    That’s OT, except I’m just glad that I’m not the only person in the universe who Googles junk like that compulsively.

  • http://stribs.blogspot.com Robert S.

    I think those results make perfect sense: although Kerry’s running for the presidency, until recently so have several other people. There’s only one POTUS, so of course mentions of The Prez are going to show up in the news far more often–regardless of the party of the person in the White House.
    So, the results only prove the prominence of one person over another in the presses awareness. However, the gap between Bush and Kerry may become increasingly smaller as their campaigns continue.
    To provide a more dramatic example, the fact that the phrase “Michael Jackson defended” appeared in the news more often before the Super Bowl than “Janet Jackson” defended doesn’t mean the press was more biased against Michael than Janet. And, of course, after the Super Bowl Janet was getting more mentions!
    This isn’t to say the press isn’t biased one way or another, just that the reasoning here is faulty.

  • http://www.jamieleigh.net Jamie Leigh

    Again another incredible oxy moron, or perhaps some other literary strange type of word pairing…
    “fautly reasoning”
    The day internet searches actually give the information desired will be a day the internet is no longer fun, lol.
    Jamie Leigh

  • anne.elk

    wt…? Bush is running on his past and saying that because of his past he knows where he wants to take us. Tax cuts for jobs that haven’t produced jobs. Nation Building for Iraq but not for Afghanistan or Haiti. Protectionism on Tuesdays but not on Wednesday.
    Kerry is attacking Bush on these issues, just as Bush attacked Gore and Clinton on similar.
    Incumbents defend, they have to, they ought to.
    It’s not negative spin, just a buzzmachine.

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    Kerry has plenty to defend, like his comments yesterday and his long record in the Senate and the issues he brought up over Vietnam. It’s not like Kerry’s some babe in the woods who just entered the political realm yesterday. In fact, Kerry has more to defend since we haven’t had four years to go through his record.

  • http://www.baseballmusings.com David Pinto

    Thanks for pointing this out. It’s bothered me for a long time. When Bush was in Austraila, the NPR reporter said about Bush’s speech to parliment that he “tried to defend” his Iraq policy. That’s even worse than defend, because it implies that he failed.

  • http://stribs.blogspot.com Robert S.

    When Bush was in Austraila, the NPR reporter said about Bush’s speech to parliment that he “tried to defend” his Iraq policy. That’s even worse than defend, because it implies that he failed.
    Well, it’s certainly worse if you think that Bush did competently defend his Iraq policy. Arguably, he never has. And I don’t think you can systematically prove that he has either. Perhaps, you’re right to point it out, though, if you want to show that the reporter revealed a lack of objectivity. But that doesn’t mean Bush didn’t fail. It’s just a matter of opinion as to whether the administration’s policy has proven successful or not. It’s not a verifiable fact.
    I happen to believe Bush’s foreign policy has been a miserable failure. If I were a journalist covering the events, however, it might behoove me to maintain as objective a view as possible. Unless I’m a pseudo journalist like Bill O’Reilly or Michael Moore.

  • http://stribs.blogspot.com Robert S.

    Jamie,
    A ‘tiresome spin’, isn’t that an oxy moron? Maybe it ‘s just me.
    Nope, not an oxymoron.
    Again another incredible oxy moron, or perhaps some other literary strange type of word pairing… “fautly reasoning”
    Nope, not an oxymoron either.
    Man, can I have some of what you’re smokin’ though? ;) Or is this stuff just being randomly generated as some sort of “art” project?!

  • http://www.jamieleigh.net Jamie Leigh

    Robert S. aw, jealous? I’m getting a little smoking sensation that you are my friend. No worries, I wouldn’t expect someone of your nature to be able to understand anything that required full use of much deflated brain cells ; I’ll give you a hall pass, you can go play hooky… and sorry hon, my pipe is only for me and a very select and highly regarded group of personal agents and secret detective “art project” insane driven people – clearly, you’d feel like the odd egg out.
    Enjoy the day, it’s beautiful!
    My Love…
    Jamie Leigh

  • JT

    What irritates me about this is that it’s completely self-referential – about half the time the president (or candidate) is “defending” themselves from adverse questioning from the press. Sometimes from the very reporter that wrote or broadcast the story as “news”. Same thing happens with the classic NYT device of “but questions linger” – only in the mind of the reporter.

  • http://darkblogules.blogspot.com Angie Schultz

    Carson Fire, it’s a shocking crime, but Google doesn’t keep things forever. So old, stale anti-Clinton rantings have now disappeared into the Great Beyond, whereas dewy fresh anti-Bush rantings are still with us, the Clinton-haters having crawled back under their rocks to rest up for the inevitable campaign of the horned She-Beast of Babylon, Hitlery, the handmaiden of Satan, She Who Dances on the Lap of Cthulhu…drool foam slobber slobber…

  • http://www.jamieleigh.net Jamie Leigh

    I agree on certain of your points Angie, not all, but a few. There is another engine/archive type system that someone showed me a few months ago that chronicled and kept actual layouts of different websites, their graphics, etc. all in full which I thought was insane because that’s difficult to capture and keep, tons of space, but it was great ; if I find it I’ll share.
    Jamie Leigh

  • http://www.elflife.com/ Carson Fire

    Pshaw, Angie, obviously this Googling is like playing with a Ouija board. Is anyone really taking that end of this conversation this seriously?
    However, those results do *happen* to match up with my actual experience, in that Clinton supporters were very quick at the time to label even mild critics of his behavior “Clinton haters”, and now, in turn, write editorials and post on political forums that they “hate Bush”. The preponderence of at least the talk of hate has been one-sided, and in reflecting that, Google was fairly accurate. IMHO, of course.

  • rivlax

    Jeff is right on this one. As a reader of five dailies a day, I see Bush “defending” constantly in heds and ledes. I also see him and the GOP “admit” and “acknowledge” nearly everything. I’m saving these for some future use. I’ve also noticed in the past two weeks that, usually on page 3 of the A section of papers, the daily Kerry story is at the top of the page, usually four to six columns, and the daily Bush story is at the bottom in an ad well about two or three columns. Just sayin’. Am saving those too.

  • billg

    Come on, if a guy proposes something, sees that some people don’t agree, and then flies around the country trying to convince people that it’s a good proposal, what’s wrong with saying he’s defending it?
    What’s better: Reiterates? Repeats? Supports?
    If a journalist avoids saying “defends” when that is actually what happened, the journalist is creating a false context for the story.

  • JW

    A search of Google News for the phrase “Bush attacked” returned 21 results. (Some of these were of the nature of “Bush attacked for..” or “Bush attacked by…”.)
    A search of Google News for the phrase “Kerry attacked” returned 167 results. (Some of these were also of the nature of “Kerry attacked for..” or “Kerry attacked by…”.)
    It appears to me as if President Bush is defensive because he is being attacked so often.
    Yet Senator Kerry claims that the administration is running a vicious campaign.
    Is Senator Kerry right, and the are media giving President Bush a pass by not reporting on all of his attacks on Senator Kerry?

  • Mork

    Jeff – did you start your “analysis” by calculating total references to Bush and Kerry?
    If Bush is mentioned in the press more than Kerry, which I would assume to be the case, then all things being equal, you would expect there to be more references towards him of every type.
    But of course, all things are not equal. He’s the President. Kerry isn’t. So you would expect it to be more than proportionately skewed.
    Dave Pinto – I’m disappointed in you. As a regular reader of your execellent blog, I know what your reaction would be if someone served up drivel like this in a piece about baseball.

  • John

    I’m surprised, but… if you change the Google News searches to “bush proposed” “bush defended” “kerry proposed” and “kerry defended” (using the quotes so that you get matches on the phrase instead of just articles where both words appear), you see that Bush gets 2.8 “proposed” for each “defended” while Kerry gets only 1.1 “proposed” for each “defended”.
    My results:
    “bush proposed” 1980
    “bush defended” 704
    “kerry proposed” 105
    “kerry defended” 92
    Not quite what I expected, but maybe it’s because Kerry has so many positions to defend on every issue.

  • http://www.crookedtimber.org Ted Barlow

    I just went to the Fox News website to see how this test does.
    “Bush defended”: 23 stories
    “Kerry defended”: 6 stories
    I don’t think that this is a terribly revealing measure.