Bias in the Media: In Response to the Anti-Jihad Ads Put Up in NYC Subways

Posted on December 8, 2012 by


In this post I will discuss the posters that were put up in New York subways.  I will analyze different sources of news information on the subject, and analyze the way they portray the information.   The posters were put up in September and there was a significant response to their placement.  The MTA tried to prevent them from being put up, but they were protected under free speech to be put up.

So diving right it, an article in the Huffington Post on 9/24/2012 talks about the ads after they were put up. Starting at the title it does not direct the reader one way or another, but does a good job of conveying just what is happening.  The article uses accounts of people traveling in the subway, but all the people they talked to were against the ads being put up.  They didn’t put any comments made by people who supported the ad.   Then they go on to talk about how the MTA tried to have it blocked from being put up, but they were unable to.  They talk about the person “Geller” responsible for the ads and say that she doesn’t care about the risk of violence in response to the ads.  After a quick read through this article one can see that despite laying out the facts unbiased in the title.  By the end readers can tell the author was against the ads being posted in the subways.  This author did do a good job of at least laying out the facts of the situation.

Looking at another article posted 9/25/2012 titled “Anti-Muslim posters spark subway fears.”  The authors right away in the title suggests that the ad will lead to a bad out come.  They then go into the fact that NYPD increased security at the subway stations where the ads were posted.  They do a good job of laying out the information on the ads after that, and that Pamela Geller is behind the ads.  They then have comments from multiple people about the ad, and every single comment is that the ads are wrong.  The perspective portrayed by the authors is one of opposition to the ads.  Although there is argument for both sides present, the only argument in favor of the ads is that of the person who put them up.  This article makes it feel like many more people oppose the ad by not having any other pro comments than that of the author.  This article does a good job of considering the consequences of the ads being put up, because there are really only two options: nothing or violent response.

The fox news video report talks about the ads being put up.  The reporter uses inflections in her voice suggesting that the ads are wrong.  The report does a good job of showing both sides of the argument by having Pamela Geller talking on the newscast supporting her ideas.  The reporter then goes on to say that most New Yorkers are against the ads, and they have two people speak who are against it.  I thought they did a reasonable job trying to stay less opinionated, but you could easily tell once they had the lawyers on to discuss the 1st amendment that they were against the ads.  The reporter openly said she was against the ads and was advocating for having them removed. Both lawyers said the ads were wrong and shouldn’t be up morally.  Although the one lawyer said it was protected under first amendment rights.

This writer definitely was against the ads.  After the first couple paragraphs where he did a good job of talking about the ads and Mona Eltahawy’s arrest he goes on to talk about how prominent Jewish figures are against the ad.  Then he says that the ads are against jihad, and says “Which in Geller’s mind includes all Muslims.”  This is discredited by what Pamela Geller says in the fox news report saying that it is strictly against extremists and not all Muslims.  All the quotes he has in the article are against the ads.  He also goes on to talk about the other controversial ads Geller has had.  Through these facts a reader can easily see that this author is against the ads in the news.

Multiple religious groups had responses to anti-Muslim ads put up in New York subways.  A Jewish group posted an ad that said “In the choice between love and hate, choose love. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.” A Christian group said “Love your Muslims neighbors.”  This article does a good job reporting the news about these new ads being posted.  They get responses from the groups that made the ads, and this author says that they attempted to get a response from the American Freedom Defense Initiative about the new ads.  So you know they tried to get opinions from both sides of the controversy.

After a quick skim, this lady’s article shows a deep disgust for everything Muslim.  Even from the very beginning, looking at the title that says, it’s not hate speech, it’s love speech.  She goes on to say that it’s love of freedom and saying that Muslim extremists commit all acts of violence, which is true.  She tries to justify her ad, but the more she talks the more racist she sounds.  Her only other justification for the ad is a lengthy discussion of what different people say what the freedom of speech is and why it is allowed.  Personally I think she doesn’t go a good job of supporting with reasonable moral excuses.

After analyzing media sources on the issue it became clear that there was a trend of opinions on the subject.  As you have heard all of the actual news sites that I analyzed showed a common dislike for the ads being posted in the NY subways stations.  These ads most likely got as much press as they did due to the situation in the middle east with the “Innocence of Muslims” video.  It sparked fear that something would happen in the NY subways.  So media took opportunity to write all about it.  With the analysis I think it was clear that most media didn’t put forth an objective opinion with their coverage.

Many of the authors clearly showed a bias against the ads.  If you compare the opinions of the news to the last article supporting the ads being put up you can see they are very opposite.  I think I would prefer to hear the news with a completely non-biased opinion, but I do agree that the ads are wrong to put up. Seeing that there is bias in reporting makes one stop and think whether this should be prevented.  It is always difficult to make that decision depending on which side of the argument you are on.  In Pamela Gellar’s case she was very upset the way the news portrayed her ads, because in her mind there was nothing wrong with them.  Then you see Mona Eltahawy, who was clearly against the ads and she protested by defacing one of the ads.  She extremely disliked the ads and she made a poor decision to destroy the signs.  Someone with her viewpoint would most likely approve of the news reports.

Part of Gellar’s argument, when she mentions that she is not against all Muslims, but she is strictly against Jihad.  She must be clearer in her definition of Jihad.  Jihad directly translates to striving or exertion.  Many times it is used in that a Muslim individual is striving in the path of God.  For many Muslims, Jihad is a way of life and a personal struggle with living the way God wants them to live.  So for Pamela Gellar to say that people who practice Jihad are savages is highly controversial for a plethora of religious reason. She maybe should have done more research on the religion that she despises so much.

To wrap it all up I agree with the bias that was apparent in the media in the case of these anti-Jihad ads, but I think the media should attempt to stay away from bias otherwise it stops being news and starts becoming opinion articles.  Not all of America wants to strictly read the opinions of people on situations.  They just want to know what’s going on in the world.


Anti-Jihad Posters Appear in NYC Subways (IMAGES), Huffington Post. 9/24/2012

Jennifer Fermino, Amber Sutherland, and Larry Celona, Anti-Muslim Posters Strike Fear, NYPost, 9/25/2012.

Anti-Muslim Posters in NYC Spark Controversy, FOX News, 9/25/2012.

Peter Beaumont, Egyptian Journalist Arrested for Defacing Anti-Muslim Poster in New York Subway, Business Insider, 9/26/2012.

Religious Groups to Hang Pro-Muslim Ads in NYC Subways, CBS New York, 8/5/2012.

Pamela Gellar, My Ad is not Hate Speech- It’s Love Speech, WND , 10/9/2012.

Posted in: Islam