Epoch’s Epic Bias

In 2017 I thought it was only fitting when Fox News quietly dropped its motto, “Fair and Balanced,” and replaced it with “Most Watched, Most Trusted.” Having captured the eyes and ears of a substantial section of the American public, Fox no longer wished to be judged based on the disgraced Roger Ailes’ pretentious claim. “Fair and Balanced” was hard to justify with commentators like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity spewing opinion from Fox studios. 

I receive “news” feeds from Fox News and from The Epoch Times, and I often read coverage of the same news events presented in other media. The bias evident in the headlines fed to my cell phone by Fox and Epoch is striking. One morning last week first on my feed from Fox was “One of Gov. Cuomo’s accusers claims he once said he would do this to her if he were a dog.” How’s that for National Enquirer style eye-catching and imagination-grabbing tabloid coverage? She said he said. (The title of the article on the Fox News website is toned down a little from the title on the feed.) 

How often do you read a headline, skim a line or two, form a tentative opinion, and then move on? That is certainly the way I read the news most of my life. The details in the body of the article? Why bother? Truth? I already had my truth and reading this article probably wouldn’t add much.

I wrote of the The Epoch Times in “Dr. Seuss, The Epoch Times and Fear” on March 12. The Epoch Times is a rapidly expanding, rabidly conservative, international “news” outlet backed by and guided by the Falun Gong, a Chinese religious cult now based in New York City. Their bent is evident from their consistent labelling of Covid-19 as the “CCP Virus” (Chinese Communist Party Virus). The ET is slickly presented in both electronic and paper form asking for donations to support “Honest Journalism.” Increasing numbers of Trump supporters (including local Spokanites like my former neighbor) have adopted The ET as their primary news source.

The reader who gleans article titles for support of a preconceived anti-Chinese, pro-Trump bias will find much to like in The Epoch Times. Here I cite one glaring example of twisted journalism that caught my eye last week. 

The headline (both in the news feed and the ET’s website) was clear: “Intelligence Officials Believe China Meddled in 2020 Election to Damage Trump: Report” Wow, the FBI or CIA or some major U.S. government agency just confirmed that China slammed Trump before the 2020 election and probably contributed to the fraud that cost Trump the election, right? Right? Wrong. This is the half truth of extremely biased coverage, a title bias that becomes evident even in the body of the article itself when closely read:

The National Intelligence Council (pdf) report from March 10th, ” ‘…that China “did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the U.S. presidential election,’ adding: ‘We have high confidence in this judgment.’ ” The misleading nature of the title comes out further down in the article where it says, “ ‘The National Intelligence Officer for Cyber assesses that China took at least some steps to undermine former President Trump’s reelection chances, primarily through social media and official public statements and media,’ says the report in its minority view section.” [the bold is mine]. 

The “minority view section” is a short box on the 13th page of the 15 page report. Headlining the minority report of one officer is a gross example of journalistic malfeasance on the part of The Epoch Times. How many readers will leave the newspaper and their morning coffee and walk away with the idea in their heads that the U.S. intelligence community solemnly judged that China messed with the 2020 elections in favor of Biden? Had I placed trust in the “Honest Journalism” of The Epoch Times that deluded idea might have been my own.

That same morning I had just read Heather Cox Richardson’s post from March 18 concerning the gunman in Atlanta who killed eight people, six of them Asian women. I focused on a paragraph that reads, “This week, the intelligence community reported that, in fact, China did not try to influence the election because it did not ‘view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk getting caught meddling.’ ” The contrast between that quote and The Epoch Times headline led me to the report itself and the truth therein.

Should anyone trust the “Honest Journalism” of The Epoch Times? Familiarize yourself with this outlet so you know what to expect from it.

Keep to the high ground,