When disaster strikes, media bias often does, too.
While some news outlets reported that politicians have put their differences aside to help Florida residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, other outlets emphasized the division between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Biden.
Both Fox News (Right Bias) and the New York Times (Lean Left bias) showed bias including spin, slant, word choice, subjective qualifying adjectives, mind reading, and analysis presented as fact through their headlines and articles.
- DeSantis voted against hurricane Sandy relief when he was in congress
- DeSantis called Biden “Brandon” and threatened to send migrants to Biden’s residence
- Outlets on the left “mocked” DeSantis’s request for federal aid
- Used subjective adjectives to describe other outlets commentary
As Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, Gov. DeSantis requested federal aid to help relief efforts. A slew of opinion articles, and a Daily Briefing article, brought DeSantis’s voting record to the forefront, pointing out that he voted against hurricane relief for New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. The Daily Briefing article from the New York Times also brought up DeSantis’s past criticisms of Biden and his recent headlines for flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
Fox responded with the headline “Hurricane Ian: MSNBC, New York Times, and more mock DeSantis asking Biden for federal assistance,” reporting on the opinion pieces and news coverage from the left — but not without displaying their own word choice bias.
What the New York Times Said
The New York Times headline “DeSantis, Once a ‘No’ on Storm Aid, Petitions a President He’s Bashed” already conveys slant, by choosing to put the perceived hypocrisy of DeSantis at the forefront of the article, rather than the hurricane aid request. Using words like “bashed” also sensationalizes the headline.
The article was a part of NYT’s “Daily Briefing” series during the midterms and is not clearly labeled under news or analysis.
The article briefly mentioned that he voted no on the hurricane relief package for Hurricane Sandy in the first paragraph, but omitted his reasoning until two-thirds of the way through the article amounting to bias by viewpoint placement.
The NYT author, Matt Flegenheimer, said “Mr. DeSantis is appealing to the nation’s better angels — and betting on its short memory. ”This is an instance of mind reading because he could not be sure of DeSantis’s intentions.
Flegenheimer also presented his own analysis throughout the article, saying the move is "tonal whiplash for Mr. DeSantis" and that "He has, to date, often used his executive platform to elevate himself to Republican rock-stardom, positioning himself as a possible 2024 presidential contender with a series of policy gambits that can feel precision-engineered to maximize liberal outrage [emphasis ours]."
He also stated "[DeSantis’s] most recent stunt — flying undocumented Venezuelan immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard — reinforced that he is more than willing to turn the machinery of state against specific political targets [emphasis ours],” and that “The present circumstances have inspired a less swaggering posture toward a leader whom Mr. DeSantis has long called ‘Brandon’ as a recurring troll, aimed at the man he might like to succeed,” in an example of mind reading and subjective analysis.
Flegenheimer also ascribed qualifying adjectives to DeSantis, suggesting he is a “hard-line conservative” and “eager combatant.” He also wrote that “In February, Mr. DeSantis baselessly said Mr. Biden ‘stiffs’ storm victims for political reasons, insisting that the president ‘hates Florida.’” Using the adjective “baseless” implies that DeSantis isn’t credible.
What Fox News Said
Fox News used spin in their headline, saying MSNBC (Left bias) and the NYT “mocked” DeSantis, “mocked” being a subjective and sensationalist term implying that the outlets were cruel and unserious in their critiques.
Like NYT, they used subjective qualifying adjectives such as “far-left MSNBC host Joy Reid” without explaining their standards for who is considered “far-left.” The article uses sensationalist language, such as when it says “blogger Ja’han Jones also ripped into DeSantis [emphasis ours].”
Get Both Sides by Reading Balanced News
To ensure you are getting the full picture and avoiding media manipulation, keep up with our Media Bias Alerts. Recently, we’ve also analyzed coverage of the social media censorship lawsuit against the Biden administration and the immigrants sent to Marthas’s Vineyard.
Clare Ashcraft is the Bridging & Bias Assistant at AllSides. She has a Center bias.
This blog was reviewed by Henry A. Brechter, AllSides Managing Editor (Center bias), Ethan Horowitz, News Research Assistant (Lean Right), and Joseph Ratliff, News Editor (Lean Left bias)