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Media Coverage of Politics: Is it Fair?

This past week, President Biden gave the annual State of the Union address. Every year there is an uproar within the media following the speech, and this year many people on both sides have taken to the internet to express their opinions.

As many of you have probably seen, there were some Republican hecklers during the address this year. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia representative and American businesswoman, made headlines as she chanted, “Liar!” at the president following his accusation that Republicans wanted to potentially remove social security and benefits for seniors. Fox News is claiming she was “sucked into a media vacuum” and CNN published an article titled, “Republicans repeatedly interrupt Biden during State of the Union address.”

It is known that CNN and Fox News are typically in disagreement regarding political agenda, and the two sources covered this event a little differently. In the Fox News clip linked above, they show official footage of the speech and viewers can see that immediately after President Biden said, “Some Republicans want Medicare and social security to sunset,” there was an uproar from Republicans, many shaking their heads and others verbally expressing their disagreement. Viewers will then see Marjorie Taylor Greene stand up and shout directly to the president, “Liar, you’re lying!” Then in a segment including Emily Jashinsky, The Federalist culture editor, and Democratic strategist, Laura Fink, they begin to discuss the media buzz behind Republican heckling. Here are some conclusions:

  • The night before, Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House, had given a speech saying that the outdated bill is no longer applicable and there is no reason to sunset social security and Medicare, and there was a unanimous agreement on this.

  • Nancy Pelosi was called a “icon” and an “American hero” by Marie Claire after she ripped up President Trump’s speech in 2020, showing the difference in media coverage.

  • The main discussion in this segment was whether the media’s coverage was fair; Jashinsky believes it was not and Fink believes it was.

In the CNN article, “Republicans repeatedly interrupt Biden during State of the Union address,” written by White House reporters Megan Vazquez and Nikki Carvajal, the focus is on the specific instances of heckling. They point out the actions of specific GOP members and there is only one mention at the end of Nancy Pelosi ripping up President Trump’s speech. The main takeaways from this article are:

  • Multiple Republicans participated in the interrupting even after Kevin McCarthy was seen shaking his head and shushing his members.

  • Republicans blame the president and his rhetoric while Democrats are criticizing Republicans despite the knowledge that McCarthy explicitly stated that the cuts to social security and medicare were off the table.

  • Heckles have become more prevalent in recent years, in 2009 South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie!” during President Obama’s speech and was then condemned by his own party and later apologized.

Discussing media coverage is often tough because both parties want their perspectives to be the most viewed.

I struggled to sort through many opinion pieces trying to find something that was at least moderate and somehow shared both sides. I think overall the media coverage of the State of the Union was fair. Most news sources didn’t go too far with heckling and the others didn’t take President Biden’s rhetoric too far.

Useful Links

State of the Union address:

Heckling at previous State of the Union address':

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