Media Bias at the Individual Level
I’m not picking sides, but a short Providence Journal bulletin by Scott MacKay turns an on-air spat between two talk radio hosts into a lesson in the methodology of media bias:
WPRO talk-show host Dan Yorke and John DePetro, a former Rhode Island talk-radio host, got into an on-air spat yesterday after DePetro showed up uninvited at a show Yorke was hosting in West Warwick, wrested a live microphone from Yorke and made derogatory comments that were broadcast on air.
The tussle started after Yorke made comments criticizing Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey for having DePetro as master of ceremonies for Laffey’s Thursday announcement that he will challenge U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee in the Republican primary next year.
In contrast to direct quotes from WPRO’s director of operations and news, David Bernstein, that the incident was “a DePetro out-of-his-mind experience,” MacKay offers no explanation from DePetro’s side. For that matter, he doesn’t even report what Dan Yorke’s critical comments were. Furthermore, the fact that the particular broadcast was “designed to raise donations of items and money for victims of Hurricane Katrina” is related in context of DePetro’s “charg[ing] over to Cardi’s Furniture store,” without any indication that Yorke’s attack — whatever it may have been — might have been a similar impropriety.
The story’s lede perfectly captures the thrust of the subsequent text, with a splash of metaphor:
John DePetro, angry about comments made on Dan Yorke’s radio program, storms into a live show to benefit hurricane victims and briefly takes over the microphone.
DePetro “storms” into the hurricane benefit in response to vague “comments” made by somebody.
Again, I’m not picking sides, nor would I claim that this represents important news. (Although the Providence Journal saw fit to run the headline on the main page of its Web site yesterday.) The slant could be an indication of a larger political tug-of-war, or it could just be local inside-media stuff. Either way, however, we who participate in Rhode Island’s limited — but hopefully burgeoning — alternative media do well to be aware of who allies with whom.