Same story, different headlines: a great example

Since sectarian religion by definition plays fast and loose with the truth (I’ve always wondered where the “fast” part of that saying comes from, but for now I’ll just roll with the cliche’), it should be no surprise that Christian news outlets are even more deep into the spin game than most media outlets, virtually none of which are free of at least some degree of obvious bias.

In 2009, a lawsuit was filed that aimed to block President Obama’s expansion of the availability of embryos for embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) via federal funding. (Ironically, the suit was brought not by pro-life opponents but by a pair of scientists concerned that the change in policy from the Bush Administration, which allowed ESCR but not its taxpayer funding, would ultimate backfire and hurt progress in ESCR.) The suit was tossed by a lower court, which determined that there was no basis for the suit since it was predicated on the erroneous idea that embryos in the federally funded projects were “harmed” in the process, which, if true, would violate a 1996 piece of legislation. (The quote marks are mine; feel free to argue with their inclusion if you want.) This decision was appealed, and on Friday, and appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision.

Note the headline of the article I linked to, which is from Sci-Tech Today: “Court: Embryonic Stem Cell Research Can Be Funded.” Straightforward, if incomplete (the word “federally” would have added clarity) and free of pathos and bullshit.

Now see these headlines from Christian sources:

Court: Obama Can Force Taxpayer-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research” (LifeNews.com). So, President Obama can personally compel scientists to do research on ESCs whether they want to or not, and YOU, the taxpayer (always a loaded word) are on the hook for it!

Court Dealt Setback in Effort to Halt Government Funding of Stem Cell Research that Destroys Human Embryos” (OpposingViews.com, via Baptist Press). This one’s even better. Evidently the courts themselves, which I always assumed were in place to settle civil and criminal matters involving outside entities, are themselves in the business of trying to stop ESCR. If that is the case, it surprises me that the recent appeal fell on deaf judicial ears.

Court Upholds Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding” (Christian Post). Fairly benign, but the article itself is loaded with misleading and just plain moronic quotes. I grow very weary of claims that “destroying” embryos (and if they were really destroyed outright, how could anyone do research on them?) is tantamount to killing a person, but even more excoriating is the assertion that ESCR hasn’t produced any meaningful results. The science is in its relative infancy and has been hamstrung at every turn by pro-lifers with no concept of…well, anything relevant, it seems. There probably would have been no Olympic or World records set earlier this month in London had Usain Bolt and David Rudisha had had stubborn Christians wrapped around their legs during the finals of their respective events.

Court sides with Obama on embryonic stem cells” (WND, officialy known as WorldNet Daily, more aptly called Wingnut Daily). Notice the pattern here: It’s all about Obama, not the issue at hand. As if the readership of these sites doesn’t already carry sufficient animus toward the president. And the subhead is cute — “Rules administration can force taxpayer-funded eesearch.” Yes, eesearch. Copy editing is typically not a great concern among those who operate these kinds of sites.

This kind of spin is pervasive, never-ending and unapologetic, but this topic seems to have sparked some amusingly stark examples.

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  1. #1 by Warren (@waxis) on August 28, 2012 - 3:16 pm

    Background on ‘fast and loose':

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/284300.html

    This is by way of returning the favor you lent me by using the word Buncombe one day.

    As for this, ‘As if the readership of these sites doesn’t already carry sufficient animus toward the president.’ – I don’t think the ‘readership’ of such sites actually reads them. I expect they have the pages read aloud to them, possibly by text-to-speech plugins.

  2. #2 by jim on August 28, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    “There probably would have been no Olympic or World records set earlier this month in London had Usain Bolt and David Rudisha had had stubborn Christians wrapped around their legs during the finals of their respective events.”

    Very true, but it would have been entertaining to watch. I’d have preferred they do it on the Steeplechase, though.

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