Ben Huszar / Staff Reporter
Controversy erupted after FBI reports that over 25,000 Gmail users were targeted by Iranian agents. Late October 21, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced in an emergency press conference that Iran and Russia had obtained American voter information and were sending out fake emails to democratic voters in order to cause voter confusion and social unrest. The emails were sent by Iranian government agents pretending to be members of the “Proud Boys”, an alt-right, neo-fascist political militia allegedly endorsed and supported by President Donald Trump.
In an effort to understand how people reacted to this news, I compared reporting from multiple different news sources: CNN, FOX News, Al- Jazeera and Business Insider.
CNN was the first to report on the story of all the sources and therefore they were lacking information released later that the other news outlets included in their stories. CNN claimed that “There is no hard proof” of fake emails and videos and that the emails were actually sent to make President Trump look bad. However, Google has stated that they did detect over 25,000 fake emails and corroborated the statement given by the U.S. Intelligence organisations. While watching CNN’s news report, it became clear that they were left biased, as they went after Donald Trump multiple times. Even going as far as to say, “Foreign adversaries doing things to interfere in the election that are less damaging than what our own president has been saying about our election process.” and “ Foreign narratives agree with the President and vice-versa”. Overall, CNN’s story was fine in terms of factual reporting but it eventually veered off into opinionated rambling and harsh buzz-words.
Al-Jazeera’s report was the shortest, it was less than three minutes in length. Despite this their report was by far the clearest and the most factual, spending no time with unnecessary details or repetitive banter. In many cases, the Al-Jazeera story was able to cover more information and background than the other reports such as who and what the “Proud Boys” are, how this could affect the election, former President Barack Obama’s reaction and showing footage of the intelligence agency press conference. This is the perfect example of short and sweet.
The Business Insider article was very similar to the Al-Jazeera report as in, it was quite short but nonetheless very to the point. This report went much more in-depth into the violent and intimidating nature of the fake emails. Even including quotes from some of the emails such as “You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.” I found that the addition of these quotes and real reports definitely made the article feel more intense and well-rounded.
In terms of coverage, FOX News just posted an unedited seven and a half minute clip of the press conference to YouTube.
I found the Al-Jazeera and Business Insider reports to be the most factual, most informative and least biased by far. No surprise considering the fact that they are both ranked very highly on the Ad-Fontes media bias chart. Other media outlets had branching narratives due to inconsistent reporting on different aspects of the story. Both news reports did a very good job at making the otherwise heavy and complex issue easy to understand and clear.