Archive for Monday, December 18, 2000

Distorted story

December 18, 2000

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To the editor:

I was quite disappointed to see the front-page AP article printed by the LJW on Dec. 10: "Court halts count, takes Bush appeal Sunday." While I realize the AP wrote it, the LJW editors are responsible to see that the information presented on its front page is balanced and factual. The story claimed that the United States Supreme Court is "sharply divided," and referred to the "court's schism," trying to make it sound as if the court was divided on the issues involved in the appeal, rather than on whether it was warranted in staying the Florida Supreme Court decision before the hearing on Monday.

Reading the actual court papers on the Internet provides the real story that the only disagreement was whether the stay was necessary before Monday's hearing. This argument was based on whether the continued counting over the weekend would cause harm to the Bush camp. There seems to be little disagreement among the members of the U.S. Supreme Court that the Florida Supreme Court overstepped the federal constitution in its ruling. As the Florida chief justice (a Democratic appointee) said in his minority dissent, there was little doubt that the decision would be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Besides, where were the stories about the "sharply divided" Florida Supreme Court? A 4-3 decision there is fine, but a 5-4 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court is suspect?

AP stories, used by the Journal-World and other newspapers, are showing more and more political bias. Usually, the bias is the product of omission of facts. For instance, the public doesn't know that Judge Saul (the original judge overturned by the Florida Supreme Court) is a Democratic appointee; the wire service decided we didn't need to know that. This time, the omissions of facts lead to a distortion of reality. The LJW should have printed the complete decision - it was shorter than the biased AP article and quite understandable. Please don't assume your readers are too ignorant to read and understand a court decision.

Karl P. Schmidt,

Lawrence.

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