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April 08, 2014

NBC, the Most Politically Biased Network Since Pravda

Quick story I stole from Hot Air.

It's a small story, but I do find the bias sad and typical.

As is often the case, it's not what gets reported -- but what doesn't.

The article implies several possible motives -- from simple juvenile pranks to a right-wing plot against Greenies. It fails to consider another obvious motive.

Vandals Flip Over Smart Cars in San Francisco

Someone's been vandalizing compact Smart cars in San Francisco, flipping the tiny vehicles on their front and rear ends in the city's streets.

...

A fourth Smart car -- a small white one with a faded "Obama-Biden" bumper sticker -- was discovered Monday about 9 a.m. at Coso and Prospect avenues between the Mission District and Bernal Heights. Shelley Gallivan was babysitting her friend's Smart car after it was left to her by her late father, and was shocked to find it flipped on its right side.

"Whoever is doing this just has misdirected anger," Gallivan said.

The article goes on to quote one uninformed man suggesting this is all just a "prank."

Very well. But why does the reporter include that bit about the Obama-Biden sticker? Is there any evidence at all that that's relevant to the case in any way?

And wouldn't most smart cars feature such stickers? Especially in San Francisco?

In fact, what's more interesting is that three of the tipped cars didn't have pro-leftist bumper stickers, isn't it?

Now, so long as we're speculating about motives, as this reporter is doing by including a meaningless detail about an Obama sticker, let's look at another possible motive -- one that should have occurred to this reporter, as she (presumably) lives in San Francisco.

A motive surely as plausible and likely as the "Cruel Vandals Hate Obama" motive inserted into the story for no good reason.

There are leftwing malcontents in San Francisco who have been pushing an anti-tech message for months now.

For example, and these are just a few of the many stories discoverable by a simple google search:

Item: Anti-Tech Protesters Target VC With Vulgar Flyer

Anger toward the tech upper class continues to simmer in the Bay Area. We've seen multiple protests against the Google Bus, and in an incident that happened just last week, protesters vomited aboard a bus for Yahoo workers.

The tension revolves around the high cost of living and the argument that tech millionaires and billionaires are driving up the cost of housing and destroying the Bay Area's traditional quality of life.

The latest incident targets one tech employee directly.

And the flyers get vulgar towards the end.

Item: Voices: An anti-tech backlash in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO Silicon Valley has its own version of Occupy Wall Street.

This culture war lacks rampant arrests, bursts of violence or national media coverage. But the dissent of anti-gentrification groups over income and housing is creating a stir just the same.

Every week or so this year, protesters have blocked buses from Google and Facebook carrying workers to their jobs outside the city. A few dozen protesters, chanting "Stop evictions," surrounded the buses and prevented them from moving. Someone plastered one coach with a sign, in a Google-type font, that read, "Gentrification and Eviction Technologies."

...

For some, the buses that transport employees from Google, Apple, Facebook and others to Silicon Valley have become symbols of income disparity.


...

"Companies are making billions of dollars; they can give a small percentage of that back," says Benioff. "The homeless, child care and public schools are logical philanthropic targets for tech."

Item: Silicon Valley backlash: Protesters VOMIT on Yahoo workers' bus []

A protester so aghast with Silicon Valley's impact on the Bay Area has gone as far as to vomit on a Yahoo shuttle bus.

The mystery demonstrator was among a group of protesters picketing the buses that ferry employees of the big tech corporations to work, deeming them indicative of everything wrong with the hyper-gentrified Silicon Valley.

On Tuesday, the group blocked an intersection in San Francisco's Mission area, and protestors consisted of dancers in clown suit onesies.

But Valleywag.com reported that in Oakland, almost 50 'rebels' blocked a pick up zone for tech buses and one apparently vomited on the windshield of a Yahoo bus from its roof.

There are also vulgar and sometimes menacing anti-tech-worker messages being left in the streets as well, but I think I've made my point.

Do I have any evidence that these Anti-Tech Occupy Silicon Valley types are behind the vandalism of the smart cars?

No, apart from the not-so-tiny coincidence that the Occupy Silicon Valley types have a pattern of attacking the vehicles used by tech workers.

But I do think this:

If this reporter thought it was relevant to include that "Obama-Biden" bumper-sticker detail, surely this months-long vandalism of Google's and Yahoo's buses merited a mention as well.

Perhaps she thought that it would be unfair to make the connection.

Unfair to speculate about the Occupy Silicon Valley types, then.

But not quite so unfair to wonder, a la Brian Ross, if the vandals had Tea Party Connections.

Why is it fair to suggest a possible right-wing motive by inclusion of the "Obama-Biden" sticker, the only detail that speaks to possible motive in the whole piece?

Zombie Opines...

Ph come on, I've been following the car-tipping story and the vomit-on-google story for weeks.

There is a 100% chance that the car-tippers are the same anti-tech protesters blocking and attacking google buses. No question.

They dress like the same anarcho/Occupy idiots that do all the same kind of shit every day. They are filled with irrational hate toward tehcnology -- essentially they are Luddite anarchists. There are thousands of them around here.

Everyone knows this. The Obama bumpersticker is a ridiculous and irrelevant detail. Hell, ALL OF GOOGLE is pro-Obama, and the protesters have been protesting Google itself. Ooooh, does that meant they're right-wingers?

The media's attempt at bias here is feeble and ignored. Everyone in the Bay Area knows these anarcho types. They cause about 75% of the problems.

JEM, though, thinks my bias-detection sensors are overreating:

Seriously, though...it's a big stretch to detect real bias in the Smart-tipping piece.

Well, let me respond.

I understand that there is a technique in reporting (or writing a novel) called "the telling detail." You don't overwhelm a reader with details; you instead choose one poignant detail, or a detail that suggests other details, thus avoiding having to write all those other details out.

Perhaps this reporter thought the Obama-Biden sticker was a Telling Detail.

But she's wildly wrong about that. I think it's as close to a simple acknowledged fact that 80% of all Priuses, Leafs, and Smart Cars are going to be fairly littered with pro-Obama, pro-Hillary, anti-nuke, and pro-COEXIST bumper stickers.

This is a detail which is not telling at all.

It's like reporting the car also had a license plate and four wheels.

So what's it doing in there? Why are the political affinities of the victim relevant?

I can only think of three reasons for the relevance:

1. To suggest a motive for the vandals.

2. To suggest the innocence of the victims, which I find even more abhorrent, as that would suggest that we should feel empathy for the victim of vandalism so long as he is a progressive in good standing, and maybe not so much for the other victims (whose cars were assumedly not festooned with MSNBC merch).

3. To suggest the fading of the Obama vision of a united America and, who knows, the fraying of the Progressive/Radical/Liberal coalition. This one is, I guess, not really "biased" all that much, though it is still a political message being snuck into a straight news article.

This one would also require some backstory to even make sense -- to wit, the backstory that these attacks on tech workers' vehicles are being carried out by the Anarchist/Occupy Silicon Valley malcontents.

I suppose I don't know why this reporter chose to include such a non-evocative detail in her piece. Perhaps she's just a cub reporter and can't yet separate the Telling Details from the Tell-You-Nothing Details.

But I do think this story reads a bit strange without the background information on the increasing vandalism in San Francisco.

And if her goal was Possibility 2 -- to humanize the victim, to add a touch of human poignancy to the story -- I guess I'd want to know why being an Obama voter is humanizing, and I guess I'd like to ask if being a Sarah Palin fan would be humanizing as well.

Or the exact opposite of humanizing.



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posted by Ace at 02:04 PM

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