What do the NYT and Breitbart have in common? Spun coverage of Pelosi’s DACA speech.
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What do the NYT and Breitbart have in common? Spun coverage of Pelosi’s DACA speech.

February 9, 2018

The Raw Data

Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gives 8 hour speech in support of DACA

On Wednesday, the day before the funding deadline, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for eight hours and seven minutes. Her address, given in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), set a record for the longest continuous speech in the House chamber. It surpassed a previous record from 1909 of five hours and 15 minutes. Most members of the House have limits on the time they may hold the floor, but the House speaker, the majority leader and the minority leader may speak indefinitely under a special privilege known as the “magic-minute.”

Read full Raw Data here.

Top Spin Words

  • Infuriating

    It also demonstrated, yet again, why Ms. Pelosi, 77, of California, remains one of the most enduring — and to many, infuriating — figures in Washington. (The New York Times)

  • Furious

    Immigrants’ rights advocates, meanwhile, are furious — not only with Republicans but also with Democrats for failing to exercise their leverage to ensure that the Dreamers would not be left behind. (The New York Times)

  • Abusing

    President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, using — or abusing — his executive powers of prosecutorial discretion on a massive scale to shield some 700,000 applicants from deportation. (Breitbart)

  • Irritated-sounding

    “I am reminded that there are members who come to this great chamber to make speeches, and there are those who come to make laws,” an irritated-sounding Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, said when Ms. Pelosi wrapped up. (The New York Times)

  • Heart-rending

    Ms. Pelosi read heart-rending testimonies from Dreamers who had written their representatives about their lives. (The New York Times)

  • Strength and Stamina

    Her speech may also have been aimed at impressing Democrats with her strength and stamina, in the midst of speculation that she could be forced to step down, either before or after the November midterm elections. (Breitbart)

  • Marathon

    Her marathon monologue — highly unusual for the House, which has no equivalent to the Senate filibuster — appears to have set the record for the longest continuous speech in the chamber, dating to at least 1909, according to the House historian. (The New York Times)

  • Prime Target

    Republicans have made Pelosi a prime target in congressional races, and will privately welcome her extended tenure in leadership. (Breitbart)

  • Freewheeling

    But a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan, choosing her words carefully, suggested he had no intention of conducting a freewheeling House debate. (The New York Times)

The Distortion

The Knife’s analysis of how news outlets distort information. (This section may contain opinion.)

Although Breitbart’s total integrity rating was lower than the New York Times’ for the Pelosi speech, the two outlets were similar in one category of distortion: spin. Both used a high percentage of spin to depict the news (54 percent and 63 percent, respectively). While many people consider these two outlets to represent different sides of the political spectrum, bias is bias. The Knife’s ratings filter for objectivity, and any reporting that’s not fact-based counts towards spin.

Take a look at some of the spin words posted in the list to the right. The dramatic and vague nature of the words lends itself to subjective interpretation. This can greatly affect how readers understand the news. Spin has a valid place in poetry, creative writing and our personal expression. Yet, if we value objective facts, it’s not appropriate in our news.

Fiction
or
Fact

Breitbart

“President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, using — or abusing — his executive powers of prosecutorial discretion on a massive scale to shield some 700,000 applicants from deportation.”

Obama created the DACA program in 2012 with his executive powers. It offered work permits to more than 700,000 applicants.

The New York Times

The speech “also demonstrated, yet again, why Ms. Pelosi, 77, of California, remains one of the most enduring — and to many, infuriating — figures in Washington.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is 77, gave an 8 hour speech. She’s been in a member of the House for 30 years, and Democratic leader for 12.

The Numbers

See how the articles rate in spin, slant and logic when held against objective standards.

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