Is it just me or does the “Political Ticker” on CNN’s home page seem biased? (I know, I know–no surprise given that it is CNN.) Let me explain, everytime that I view CNN’s homepage, among the headlines to the right of the main photo on the page is a headline as to what is on the “ticker,” a sort of blog that CNN has that posts campaign news. Without fail, whenever I see it, the headline is always something negative towards McCain, Palin or the GOP generally. That made me wonder–surely the top story on the ticker cannot always be a negative one towards McCain et al (again, I know, it is CNN) so I began to keep track. While the majojrity of “stories” on the ticker are anti-McCain/Palin/GOP, there are some “benign” stories or even stories on the ticker that purport to be negative Obama stories. So, how come we never see those headlines on CNN’s front page? How does the ticker work?
After some observation, it appears that the ticker headline on CNN’s homepage is generally the most recent story in the ticker–you click on the headline, you go to the ticker and the top story is generally the story the headline on the frontpage was about with other, older stories below it. But what about those (rare) times when they do a neutral or even slightly-negative Obama story? Why aren’t those ever on the homepage headlines? Why isn’t the negative McCain headline replaced whenever a newer story comes along? Well, it appears that the helpful and efficient editors at CNN.com change the time on the negative McCain story so that it always remains at the top and, therefore, is always the headline on the homepage. The same negative McCain story will sit at the top of the ticker (and thus on the homepage) for up to 24 hours, despite newer stories being published in the ticker. The time just keeps getting pushed back so it will stay on top. (They also will periodically leave the negative McCain story headline on the front page even while bumping him down on the ticker page, but this occurs less frequently.)
Subtle and sneaky. A way for CNN to subconciously influence voters by keeping the negative story about McCain/Palin/GOP in front of readers’ eyes on the homepage and at the top of the ticker.