More Headline Bias at The O: Tax Cut Edition

Continuing our occasional examination of how newspaper headlines are used to advance an editor or publisher’s political agenda

Yesterday evening, the Oregonian posted a surprisingly good analysis of how the Senate Republicans’ proposal to cut tax rates for the wealthy could be a huge financial boon both to the Senators themselves as well as their biggest campaign donors. The article looked at how rich donors could manipulate their corporate filings in order to take advantage of lower tax rates and make thousands of dollars–or more.

[M]ajor Republican donors such as Stimson Lumber Company, A-Dec Inc. and Parks Medical Electronics are privately held companies that, if structured correctly, could benefit from the tax break.

Here’s how the story appeared online. Notice the headline:

Tax Cut Online Headline


But, as often happens at the Oregonian, the headline that appeared in print was dramatically different, based apparently on the editorial bias of the front page editors (or their bosses):

Tax Cut Print Headline


See what they did there? “Sides forming over the tax cut plan” doesn’t actually have much to do with the story. The story is about how specific Senate Republicans and their campaign donors could benefit from the tax cuts they are pushing. Instead, this print headline buries that fact (which is reeeeeeeally uncomfortable for the supporters of this proposal, including, one assumes, publisher N. Christian Anderson III) and paints it with a headline that says almost nothing.

It’s too bad, because the coverage in today’s article is exactly the sort of reporting that could reestablish a connection between the Oregonian and the community it allegedly represents–something it desperately needs at the moment.

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