Newsbusters' Huston shoots blanks at MSNBC

Warner Todd Huston is upset that in a headline for an article about a triple homicide, MSNBC included the fact that the homicide was committed using an assault rifle. This, Huston insists, demonstrates “some old fashioned bias” on MSNBC's part; an attempt to “push its own anti-'assault rifle' meme.”

Here's Huston:

MSNBC's version of the story clumsily screams "Man charged in assault rifle killings of 3 teens" over the top of its AP wire feed. Yet, while every story in the news and certainly every AP story mentions that the killer used an “assault rifle,” only MSNBC put the words in the headline. This befits MSNBC's anti-gun agenda, presumably.

By contrast, Huston offers examples of what he apparently views as good, unbiased headlines:

Prosecutors: Man charged with murder in shootings of 3 teens on Chicago's South Side

Now, if mentioning in the headline that the crime was committed using an assault rifle constitutes an effort to push an “anti-gun agenda” ... well ... wouldn't mentioning in the headline that the killings occurred by “shootings” do much the same thing? Does Huston think people are going to read headlines that refer to “shootings” and assume that they were the work of a criminal with a slingshot? A crossbow?

But Huston can't criticize those headlines, though they also make clear that a gun was used. He can't do it because he needs something to contrast favorably with the MSNBC headline; the contrast is his evidence of “bias” :

MSNBC took the occasion of a triple homicide on Chicago's south side to push its own anti- “assault rifle” meme on February 27 by including the words “assault rifle” in the headline of its story on the incident. No other media source, however, took this unusual step. So, here we have some old fashioned bias by MSNBC.


However, no other story has “assault rifle” in the headline but MSNBC.


it is interesting that MSNBC elected to put the term in its headline, isn't it? It is telling that no other news source did so.

Of course, you could just as easily say that news organizations that didn't note the use of an assault rifle demonstrated pro-assault weapon bias, and that the fact that MSNBC did include that detail confirms that the other news organizations are biased. See how easy it is to find bias the Newsbusters way?

Huston concludes with a cheap shot at MSNBC:

I don't know about you, but were I a family member of one of the three killed I might be a tad offended that the gun got top billing on MSNBC! Perhaps the victims don't figure so prominently in the minds of the headline writers at the cable TV newser?

This is nothing more than a dishonest and dishonorable attempt to use the deaths of three teens in order to make MSNBC look bad.

See, all of the headlines Huston cites in his diatribe - the MSNBC headline and the headlines he approves of - refer to the victims in much the same way. MSNBC mentions “3 teens” ; the other two refer to “Chicago teens” and “3 teens.” There is no difference between the “billing” MSNBC gives the victims and the “billing” given them by the headlines Huston approves of. Yet Huston falsely claims “the victims don't figure so prominently in the minds” of MSNBC headline writers.

I don't know about you, but were I a family member of one of the three killed I might be a tad offended that Warner Todd Huston would cynically use my relative's death to score baseless political points against MSNBC.