The Raw Data
Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.
North Korea says not interested in ‘one-sided’ talks with the US
North Korea’s vice foreign minister said Wednesday that the U.S. must stop requiring the North to have “unilateral nuclear abandonment” in advance of talks between North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump scheduled for next month. North Korean state news outlet KCNA published the statement from the minister, Kim Gye Gwan, on Wednesday, after the North suspended talks with South Korea early Wednesday morning local time over military exercises the South was conducting with the U.S.
Read the full Raw Data here.
The Knife’s analysis of how news outlets distort information. (This section may contain opinion.)
Relations with North Korea are complex and changing quickly — they don’t need added sensationalism. About six months ago, President Donald Trump designated the country a “state sponsor of terrorism” and it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. This was about two months after the North conducted its sixth nuclear test.
Since then, much has happened: North and South Korean leaders met and agreed on paper to denuclearize the peninsula and officially end the Korean War. Kim Jong Un and Trump agreed to meet next month. Then, earlier this week, the North canceled a meeting with the South and said it was not interested in a “one-sided” meeting with the U.S.
In the coverage of North Korea’s latest statement, the media added drama through sensational language and distorted the facts with subjective interpretations of what was said. The outlets The Knife analyzed — AFP, BBC, CNN and The New York Times — earned spin ratings between 45 and 69 percent, as well as slant ratings of between 61 and 81 percent. (See more on the Technical Sheet.)
Here are highlights from the spin:
- “The North reverted to his earlier hard-line stance on retaining nuclear weapons and to a North Korean playbook that includes sudden shifts in tactics when negotiating with other nations.” (The New York Times)
- “The tough statements from Pyongyang ended the diplomatic warming…” (CNN)
- “The North Korean warning follows a weeks-long charm offensive…” (AFP)
- The North’s statement “is also a warning shot to the Trump administration.” (BBC)
- “The president has shifted between a hard-line and more conciliatory tone in his statements about the North…” (The New York Times)
- “After weeks of warm words and diplomatic backslapping, Pyongyang abruptly threatened to pull out Tuesday” (AFP)
- “North Korea released an angry statement” (BBC)
- “Trump sounded a note of caution Wednesday about his much-vaunted summit with Kim Jong Un” (AFP)
See the Top Spin Words section in the column to right for more examples.
Much of the spin paints North Korea as “reverting” to its “hardline” behavior, and implies the Kim-Trump talks won’t happen. It focuses on the possibility that the talks will be canceled and that U.S. interests are in jeopardy. This perspective is furthered when outlets omit or downplay the portion of the North Korean statement that said if the U.S. is “sincere” in working with North Korea it would “receive a deserved response.”
The data does indeed suggest a change in approach by North Korea and it’s possible that the Trump-Kim meeting may not happen. It’s also important for outlets to provide historical context showing that North Korea has canceled or ended negotiations early in the past, so that readers can consider that this could happen again.
Yet the spin also suggests it’s a foregone conclusion that relations won’t improve, when this is still unknown. Even with the North’s statements this week, relations may still be in a better state than they were several months ago. And the meeting may still happen, given the North didn’t definitely cancel. On the other hand, it’s not a guarantee that the Trump-Kim meeting would definitely lead to denuclearization if it does happen. As Trump himself said, “we’ll have to see.”
Phrases like “warning shot,” “backslapping” and “note of caution” are vague. It would be easier to understand the progression of events and evaluate them if media outlets stated the facts in objective terms. The dramatic spin places meanings on the facts without acknowledging that these meanings are actually the outlets’ own opinions.
Is it fact or fiction? Which outlet presents the most spin?
“The Trump administration is hopeful its summit with North Korea will go ahead, despite threats of cancellation.”
The House House spokeswoman said the administration is “hopeful” that summit with North Korea will continue.
“President Donald Trump sounded a note of caution Wednesday about his much-vaunted summit with Kim Jong Un, saying ‘we’ll see’ after Pyongyang threatened to cancel.”
Trump said “we’ll see” after North Korea said it may “reconsider” the planned meeting between Trump and Kim if the U.S. says the North must “unilaterally” give up its nuclear program.
“The tough statements from Pyongyang ended the diplomatic warming that had been leading up to the June 12 encounter between” Trump and Kim.
Trump and Kim agreed to meet on June 12 for talks, the U.S. announced on May 10. On May 16, a North Korean official said the country would “reconsider” the talks if the U.S. tried to “force” the North’s “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”
See how the articles rate in spin, slant and logic when held against objective standards.
Total Integrity: 60%
Total Integrity: 59%
Total Integrity: 46%
Total Integrity: 42%