“Mr. O’Reilly, sitting forward in his chair at the White House, pressed Mr. Obama repeatedly. The president, smiling but seemingly trying to keep his patience, pushed back in kind. At times the two men talked right over each other.” New York Times in it’s article covering the topics such as IRS corruption and the health care law created a two-party mindset at the start—this becomes clearer if you look at USA Today’s starting line: “People are getting ready for Sunday’s big matchup…”
Today acknowledges the understood rivalry that is American politics in a lighthearted manner, sort of a “par for the course” attitude. This article doesn’t appear as biased next to the New York Times covering an interview with President Obama on Fox News. If you read the news you know that Fox is not exactly unbiased toward Obama. Just reading the headlines you can see the negativity. Then again Obama uses the word “folks” to describe the Fox News outlet repetitively, and you can sense the agitation.
USA Today takes on the tone of a sideline viewer, watching the action without implying failure on either side or using verbs like “ducked” to describe how Obama answers questions like the NY Times article.
If you read for content and not just writing quality, the USA Today article frames the interview in a way where the reader doesn’t have to watch the interviewer to see how high the tension was and how opposite the ideologies were. USA Today said, ‘You understand that a lot of Americans feel that you’re a big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom?’ O’Reilly told Obama at one point.”
Obama: ‘I’ve got to give you credit — you’ve got a pretty big viewership … so you’re pretty persuasive.’” The disdain is laced with the comments and not the author’s choice of verbs.
The NY Times article had an overall tone that implied Obama’s sheepishness and showed O’Reilly as a white knight determined to show corruption. A president is not going to admit that the internal revenue service has corruption—it is part of the job description. Humans should be asking themselves why we feed into the melodrama or the generics. We should be reading more and trying to find different points of view. The president is puppet in the end and all he has is proposals and vetoes. I am not saying I know every name of the nine justices, but I do know that I should read more and want to understand more.
At the same time you have to wonder what the options are for a journalist to expose corruption without relying on a large investigative budget or comments from the opposition. Obama has a natural need in his position as the face of the country to advocate for its agencies, but at the same time, who could you ask that would expose something outside of anonymity if he or she were on the same side as Obama? Not saying he is some evil dictator, but you don’t just bad-mouth the president in the New York Times and not get fired. What I mean is, these interviews with opposite sides need to happen just as much as positive interviews, but Americans read with so much bias that when articles reinforce it, it may be more distracting than informative.
NY Times was just a bit more forward with how it wanted readers to see the interview—it “told” instead of “showed”: “Mr. Obama blamed Fox for spreading what he called incorrect information.” NY Times made the point to say Obama “offered no examples” of how honorable the IRS was, while USA Today positioned the confrontation in a way where a reader could see the fierceness on both sides, saying Obama was “chuckling” as he answered O’Reilly’s question about if it disturbs him that everyone hates him.
NY Times did touch more straightforward on the idea that Obama looks at the media as over critical and that perhaps this is what molds people’s minds—which I think is a very weak way to explain the lack of information dissemination and uptake across the world: “But when we’re in midstream, Bill, we want to make sure that our main focus is how do we make this thing work so that people are able sign up and that’s what we’ve done.”
USA Today, for me, was bit more from the horses’ mouths while NY Times created the image of a squirming president under the eagle eye of an objective journalist.