Press-Gazette’s Headline Misleads Readers

Newspaper  |  7-13-2016

For those of you who read the Green Bay Press Gazette or the Appleton Post Crescent, you may have noticed a regular feature appearing called “PolitiFact Wisconsin.” It is written in conjunction with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the “national PolitiFact network.”

Several friends of the Wisconsin Media Check have alerted us to these Politifact Wisconsin pieces, alleging bias exists.

In its July 13, 2016 print edition, the Green Bay Press Gazette set forth a perfect example of media bias by headline.  First, let’s take a look at the headline:  “Johnson has not yet backed Social Security cuts”.

Can you spot the bias?  The headline is misleading because it leads the reader to conclude that although Johnson “has not yet,” he may soon back Social Security cuts.

Nothing in the article itself substantiates that Johnson will be backing Social Security cuts at all let alone in the immediate future.  

In fact, the Press Gazette glosses over its own findings that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s claim that Johnson supported a plan to cut Social Security benefits was “mostly false.”  

An unbiased headline contains just the facts: “Johnson has not backed Social Security cuts.” The Press Gazette has committed this instance of bias when it chose this misleading headline; rather than just sticking with the facts.

WMC intends to keep a very watchful eye on these PolitiFact pieces. Especially in light of a study by the George Mason University Center for Media and Public Affairs, which concluded that  “finds that Republicans are dishonest in their claims three times as often as Democrats.”

If the Press Gazette and Post Crescent are taking their queues from a biased “fact checking” organization, then clearly a watchdog is appropriate. WMC is happy to take up the charge!


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