#MediaBias101: How the Charlotte Observer tries to do your thinking for you (UPDATE: Observer changes headline)

First, the story:

During his first campaign for governor in 2008, then-Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said there was a “culture of intimidation” in state government, with local mayors afraid to question the status quo in Raleigh.

Some Charlotte Democrats charged Friday that now-Gov. McCrory is practicing what he once preached against. They said the governor, a Republican, threatened the city with the loss of light-rail funding if it builds a streetcar with property tax dollars.

“He talked about the politics of intimidation during his campaign,” said Democrat John Autry, who supports building a streetcar. “I found it interesting that it seemed to me that he was meddling in local affairs.”

State Sen. Malcolm Graham, a Charlotte Democrat who chairs the Mecklenburg delegation, said he was “appalled” by McCrory’s comments about the possible loss of Lynx Blue Line funding. He said the governor’s comments would hold Blue Line money “hostage” and “dishonor” the commitment the state made to the city.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who succeeded McCrory in 2009, said Thursday that he was outraged.

Reading this story, you wouldn’t get the sense that the Charlotte Observer itself was accusing the new Governor of “meddling” in local affairs, but you would if all you read was the headline (which is what a lot of people do, which sets the tone for when they read the story itself).  Here’s the headline:

Charlotte Democrats criticize McCrory for meddling in local affairs

Screencap, just in case they change it:

Charlotte Observer headline

The headline should read something like this: “Charlotte Democrats say McCrory meddling in local affairs”. In fairness, on the website’s home page teaser for the story (where you click the link to get the full story) it reads, “Local Democrats say McCrory meddling.” That’s perfect, and they should have carried that over to the article itself.  How much do you want to be the print version has the screencapped headline above? I’ll check today.

Let’s contrast an objective headline with their subjective, biased headline.

Objective (mine): :“Charlotte Democrats accuse McCrory of meddling in local affairs”

Subjective (theirs): “Charlotte Democrats criticize McCrory for meddling in local affairs”

See what I mean? They definitively state in the headline that Pat McCrory is “meddling”, and in essence, are doing your thinking for you. The DEMOCRATS allege he is meddling, and the Charlotte Observer’s main headline seems to support that accusation.  This isn’t exactly surprising, seeing as the Observer is now taking the unprecedented (for them) step of relentlessly hammering a Governor of this state while he still HOLDS the office (he IS a Republican after all), rather than waiting until they are no longer are in office (which they do for Democrats).   Article after article, opinion piece after opinion piece, editorial after editorial, have badgered the former Charlotte Mayor since before he even took the oath of office.    The Observer also gleefully reports that McCrory’s approval ratings are going down, which is not shocking considering their steady drumbeat of (mostly bogus) criticisms of his first few weeks in office.

Expect more of this to come.  It’s a lot of work staying on top of what a sitting Governor is up to, trying to keep him accountable, and occasionally smear him with baseless accusations? The Observer would much rather sit back under a Democrat Governor and let the “good times roll” and all that.

Just thought you should know. :)

Update – 4:49 PM: Was alerted by fellow Charlottean Cedar Posts that the Observer has changed the headline.  It now reads as it should:

Headline change
Much better.

Results! :)

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