I have a history of being misrepresented by media outlets. The student newspaper at Brown University came to a Christian function, and the reporter asked me my opinion about a video that was shown that had something to do with a Christian view on sex. I said I agreed with most of the things in the video. She then asked me if I also thought people might feel excluded or offended by things in it, and I said that some people would be, but that wasn't a reason not to show it. She then quoted me, with actual quotation marks, as saying something very similar to, "I agree with most of what the video said, but I think someone who doesn't believe such things would be offended by it." That's clearly misrepresentation. It makes it sound as if the comment I wanted going on record was not my emphasis, and the one she wanted put into my mouth was my main point.
The Syracuse University student newspaper did something similarly awful. They published a letter to the editor that I wrote. I was complaining that they had criticized the Christian organizations on campus
for not going to a Jerry Falwell event about 20 miles north of Syracuse. I wrote that the Christian organizations on campus are non-political and include a number of liberals as well as many who would call themselves part of the religious right, and I pointed out that Jerry Falwell is a fringe element that most evangelicals are embarassed by regarding an event called Jesus Week on campus. I had defended the Christian organizations in my letter. They put a headline over my letter making it sound as if I thought the groups I was defending misunderstood Jesus. My whole point in One of my two main points in writing the letter was to defend them. They'd given a ridiculous criticism of some groups, and I pointed out how ridiculous those criticisms were. It didn't help that they'd also removed a few crucial sentences from my letter. [See the comment below for more detail. I didn't want to make the post any longer by adding the whole story, and I didn't want to delete what I had already said here because of I'm not entirely sure they didn't do something similar with the Falwell letter too.]
Well, it's happened again, and this time it's no student newspaper. It's CNN/Netscape News. I've been misrepresented by the big media misrepresenters. Their website has highlighted my criticism of attacks on the Harriet Miers nomination. Judging by their headline ("Bush's Base is Foaming at the Mouth"), they seemed to have liked the fact that I referred to a certain portion of Bush's base as "foaming at the mouth", but they seem to want to make it appear as if I'm talking about the whole of Bush's base. I would have thought it obvious that there's a foaming at the mouth component of the right wing and a foaming at the mouth portion of the left wing, and all I said is that the one on the right has been saying some pretty dumb things about this nomination. It doesn't follow that I think Bush's base is foaming at the mouth. After all, I'm part of that base, and I don't think I'm foaming at the mouth. I appreciate the link from a major news outlet. Actually, I was shocked to see them giving any attention to my blog. I'm not even offended by this, which wasn't true of the other two instances. I'm much happier for the link than I am regretful of how it summarizes my post. Still, it's unfortunate that the headline linking to my post would misrepresent what I'm saying.
Update: Their link to me is showing up again in this story today. The headline for it is the same. Also, I want to correct what I said above about the Syracuse University letter-publishing incident. I had remembered it as the wrong letter. See my comment below.