Some Media Exaggeration

Today I noticed a prime example of how the media can exaggerate a story.  The charitable interpretation is that they do so merely to provoke viewer interest.  The cynical view is that they do it to provoke a popular bias.  Regardless of the motivation though, its effects perpetuate gross misunderstandings of news events and taints the popular discussion of important policy issues.

The story in question is a report about the launch of China’s first aircraft carrier.

Fox news with Bret Baier reported it this way:  “China is taking a huge step towards eventually challenging the US for naval supremacy in the Pacific.  Correspondent Adam Housley on what could be a military sea change.”   Watch the story and see if you agree that it suggests a major and worrisome development.

However, then look at this article today in the New York Times, which offers some important details. The most important of which is this sentence: “China does not have planes capable of landing on the carrier and so far training for such landings has been carried out on land,…”  Hmmm…. an aircraft carrier with no planes!  Is that a real threat?  I’m no military expert, but come on!

Of course the statement at the start of the FOX broadcast isn’t wrong since they did say “China took a huge step towards EVENTUALLY challenging the US …. “   It’s just that they didn’t really give the extra details that would suggest eventually might be 10-20 years away.

Bloomberg reported it this way …  quite a bit more neutral in its presentation.


Steve Suranovic received his B.S. in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and his M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University. He has been a faculty member at the George Washington University since 1988. He has served several terms as the current Director of the International Trade and Investment Policy M.A. program at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

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