Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why The Toronto Star Went Liberal

TheStar.com - Why we hear so selectively:
"Liberals and conservatives can become equally bug-eyed and irrational when talking politics, especially when they are on the defensive.

Using MRI scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favoured candidates or criticisms of them." New York Times
I found The Star's backing of the Liberals a bit unfathomable, and their extremely biased-towards-the- Liberals news stories in the last couple days of the election appalling. It seemed to me that anyone who had followed the last year of Parliament, and was reasonably aware of what had gone on since 1993, knew that the Liberals had made promises to Toronto and carried out basically none...until the NDP forced their hand last spring. The only friend to Toronto of all the parties has been the NDP.

The Star started a campaign a few years ago to revitalize Toronto. They are without-a-doubt a partisan Toronto paper. And so it seemed to me that they would naturally lend their considerable support to the party that has done the most for this city. Given our decrepid state, doing anything for us would put a party at the top. That was the NDP. So why stick to their pro-Liberal guns?

"...the new research suggests that, for partisans, political thinking is often predominantly emotional."

Researchers at Emory University studied 30 partisan American men, half Republican and half Democrat. They watched their brains using an MRI as they considered two sets of statements made by candidates, the second set contradicting their stand in the first set.

"Each group judged the opposition harshly but let its own candidate off the hook." In other words, the emotional areas of the brain lit up, while the "cold reasoning" area remained quiet. The only possible way to activate the reasoning area of the cortex is "to engage in ruthless self reflection," said Drew Weston, lead author of the study.

So, The Star editors were neurologically incapable of logically assessing the parties and were, I assume, unwilling to "ruthlessly" and honestly examine their own biases and how those biases were affecting their judgement of the facts.

I wonder what the editor was thinking when he chose to reprint this New York Times article. Was he thinking of why The Star endorsed the Liberals...or, more likely, why Albertans always vote Conservative.

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Note: A study with a sample size of 30 is not considered conclusive, but more as pointing the way towards a working hypothesis and where researchers should focus next to conclusively prove it.

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3 comments:

jaycurrie said...

The Toronto Star has been a Liberal rag for fifty years and is pretty much constitutionally incapable of supporting any other party. It explains a lot about the strange voting paterns one sees in Toronto. What many people outside Toronto don't realize is that the Star has the largest circulation of any paper in Canada.

talk talk talk said...

An editor or management type at The Star, responding to outrage that the paper had backed a party (don't know why the outrage since papers have been telling their readers who to vote for for eons) said that the Star had once backed the NDP.

I'm sure it's true -- papers and magazines know people can fact check and have their own fact checkers on hand and usually really good librarians too -- but I don't recall it and find it truly hard to believe the Star would back any other party. But I guess pigs do fly sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Wilfred Laurier (Liberal) wasn't happy with the press he was receiving when he was Prime Minister. Laurier worked with a friend to rectify the situtation. That friend started the Toronto Star. So the paper was created to give favourable press to a Liberal P.M.

The paper is a liberal rag. Whenever a black child is shot he/she is automatically referred to as an honour student and a pillar in the community. I know personally of one such case where the guy was a gang member, a drug dealer and a high school drop out. He was shot by a rival gang member.

I am all for fighting racism but creating false biographies for people is going a bridge too far.