KTVB CH-7 coverage shows media bias to Gov. PalinSep 2nd, 2008 | By H. Lukas Green | Category: Idaho, News
KTVB-Channel 7 (Boise NBC affiliate) let its conservative roots show tonight in the coverageÂ given to the teen pregnancy controversy hoveringÂ around Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The 6 pm broadcast featured a story by reporter Ysabel Bilbao who teased earlier that she spoke to people “on both sides of the isle,” indicating she had a balanced story. Well, guess what? It was clearly tilted to the right and not centered or balanced.
KTVB reporter Ysabel Bilbao offered a conservatively-leaning report on the controversy on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s unmarried pregnant daughter.
Bilbao’s piece was teased by anchor Dee Sarton during the 5:30 pm show while making a curious statement about teenage pregnancy in Idaho.
“We did a little research about teen pregnancy here in Idaho,” Sarton told viewers. “We found that between 1991 and 2004, there were more than 31,000 teenage births in our state.”
KTVB anchor Dee Sarton makes a curious statement about how 31,000 teen pregnancies in Idaho between 1991-2004 is positive because that’s a lower number. She didn’t mention down from what, however. Sarton also noted the successful book sales on Gov. Palin’s biography.
Then Sarton turned that amazingly high 31,000 number into a positive note by saying, “The good news between 1991 and 2004, teenage pregnancy declined 28 percent.”
Huh? Declined from what to what? This is accurate reporting? This is clearly informing the viewing public?
The 2-minute, 36-second package consisted of interviews with three Palin supporters and one guy simply identified on the screen as a Democrat named “Evan.” Two women on the street identified as Jewell Hissam and Jill Vanantwerp indicated that the Palin’s pregnant daughter should not be a political issue. A total of 4 seconds was given to these Palin supporters.
Jewell Hissam (left) and Jill Vanantwerp have 4 seconds to show support of Sarah Palin.
Idaho’s top Republican, Gov. Butch Otter had 12 seconds to show his support for Palin and to say that this was an internal family issue.
“When families themselves come together and take on a challenge like that make them no different than every other family in Idaho or every other family in the United States of America,” Otter said.
Then it’s Bryan Fischer’s turn on camera. Fischer is identified on the screen as “Rev. Bryan Fischer” and he manages to outscore Gov. Otter with a generous 16-second sound bite.
Bryan Fischer, is identified on camera as “Rev. Bryan Fischer” even though he does not head a congregational church. KTVB opted for a political windbag rather than interview a real church leader in Boise.
Bilbao had a wide selection of religious leaders in Boise who actually head various congregations, but she decided to give airtime to Fischer who does not lead one single church congregation. There was no indication that Bilbao attempted to reach out to to religious leaders in the Mormon, Catholic, or Jewish faiths.
Nor did she attempt to balance out the reporting with a comment from Planned Parenthood of Idaho which struggles to educate teens about pregnancy issues. Instead, KTVB opted for Fischer, the head of the so-called Idaho Values Alliance and the editor of a non-profit political website.
Even before KTVB broadcast the news piece, Fischer was already crowing to the world about how he managed to get face time on KTVB regarding the Palin pregnancy issue.
Now that leaves us with the single opinion from the token “liberal” to round out Bilbo’s piece.
“Evan” the “Democrat” has 6 seconds to talk about Gov. Palin’s corruption charges, nothing about her pregnant teen daughter.
Bilbao goes on to say, “It’s been called a family issue by many, both conservatives and liberals alike. There are those who say it’s a problem for the vice president to be facing so close to the election. But from they’re point of view; there are other issues about Palin that they say far more important than her pregnant daughter.”
Up on the screen is a man simply identified as “Evan” a “Democrat” who gets a 6-second sound bite that doesn’t speak to the entire lead-in to Bilbao’s piece.
To his credit, “Evan” â€“ whoever he is â€“ focused on the fact that Palin is facing corruption charges for firing an Alaska law enforcement official who refused to dismiss a state trooper who was once married to the Governor’s sister.
Oh, those “family values” â€“ they get you every time.
Evan says, “The corruption issue is the largest issue. The state of Alaska is investigating her as we speak.”
That’s it! An entire 2 min/36 second piece and the pro-Palin interviews add up to about 30 seconds, and “Evan” the “Democrat” has 6 seconds to talk about Palin’s corruption charges and nothing about her 17-year-old pregnant daughter.
But the closer for the report comes from Dee Sarton who gives what could be considered a thinly veiled pitch from the KTVB anchor desk for a biography about Sarah Palin.
“It’s interesting to note,” Sarton says, “a biography on Palin has become a big seller for a Seattle publisher. Before Friday, only 8,000 copies of the Palin biography had sold, but since she was announced as McCain’s running mate, the publisher has ordered 40,000 more copies to be ready by today.”
If the information teens get in schools, churches, and at home about pregnancy is anything like the information viewers got tonight from KTBV, it’s no wonder we had 31,000 pregnant teens within a 13-year period.
Idaho has lots in common with Alaska, high teen pregnancies and a hometown connection with Gov. Sarah Palin. What the numbers don’t show is the reality of most teen pregnancies that end up in poverty, child neglect, abuse, and spousal abuse. But since when do we worry about reality when there’s a Republican running for office? (Source: CDC Vital Statistics System US Department of Health and Human Services.)
Jody May-Chang now writes on "As I See It...Reporting from the front lines