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A study of Newspaper bias in the Princeton-Dartmouth game of 1951

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“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” ― Thomas Jefferson

I remember my time writing for newspapers. What a rush of ego to see my thoughts in print. I carefully cut out each one, and over the years filled several scrapbooks. All went well when I talked about travel experiences, pot holes in the streets, or trying to motivate voter turnout. But when it got to an inconvenient truth, I saw an insurmountable wall. I found that it is 18 times more likely that a black man will commit a violent act toward a white man, as given by a well-respected FBI extrapolation method (the Jena six comes to mind), but it could not, would not be published. Anything negative about Zionism (Israel comes to mind) or positive about the UN, or the breaking of international law, can not be published. Or, Lord forbid, to say something positive about a specific candidate not in favor, and it just could not, or would not be published. It wasn't that my other work wasn't appreciated, it seemed, and I did get praise for them... but I felt a cold slap in the face when truth was not presented... and I wondered at my association with them, my many contributions over the years, and my overt participation in their bias and the many taboos of their own design...

Once, in 2007, I submitted an essay about what I heard coming from the Ron Paul camp to Baton Rouge, and my twenty paragraphs were cut to 14, with the last two paragraphs, a punch-line summary, deleted. It made the Liberty movement sound ridiculous, inconsequential, and that was just the intent. They did not like Ron Paul, most likely because they feared he was not a part of their corporate power structure, and could not be bought....And that intent, more than likely, and in most cases, comes from the top down. It is the mindset of the owners who set the precedence for a newspaper. and it has little to do with truth. But there is something more to this story, and in all fairness, it must be said.

"Educate and inform the whole mass of people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our Liberty," -Thomas Jefferson

From the inception of Mass Communication throughout history, it was primarily designed to promote an idea to the literate, from the printed word to word of mouth. A mandate was posted on a church or government wall and was ingested and interpreted by just a small faction of people, and though today we have far more literates in our society, the question remains: Is truth viable in our society? Or perhaps a better question might be, "Can truth actually be understood?"

In an old textbook of mine, "The Process and Effects of Mass Communication," I searched to find an essay that would reflect this concern, that newspaper truth is not their primary reason for being. that it is profit...But as I studied and researched, I found something I had not anticipated, and far more apropos. . on page 302.

Written by Albert H. Hastorf and Hadley Cantrel, it was entitled They saw a Game: A Case Study. Dr. Cantrel, who died over thirty years ago, was chairman of the psychology department at Princeton, and Dr. Hastorf , the dean of humanities and sciences at Stanford University, came together for a common cause. By the use of scientific methods of observation they published this noteworthy work in The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 49 (1954);129-34.

My bias towards newspapers stopped me from seeing the total picture...

Their annotations of a football game, and the perceptions of that game as proposed by the school newspapers of Princeton and Dartmouth, indicated, so I thought, that each side's reality was manifested in their minds by the bias of their respective newspapers. "It seems clear," the two psychologists wrote, that "there is no such thing as a 'game' existing 'out there' in its own right which people observe.' The 'game' exists for a person and is experienced by him only insofar as certain happenings have significance in terms of his purpose."

It wasn't what I expected. There was another element to this equation I had not considered...

It was an important game for both sides, and feelings escalated in what was then called a "considerable" amount of rough play, and several highly respected and loved players were hurt in the fray, and also, that some of the calls were in question. And for months this game was the topic of conversation and argument on the campus of both schools... and even when the film of the game were shown long after, there were very conflicting perceptions of what the psychologists called "objective stimulus."

After compiling information from interviews from both Universities, interpretations of an extensive questionnaire, and gathering newspaper articles written soon after the game, an assessment of this phenomena was formulated.

The Daily Princetonian published this four days after the game:

"This observer has never seen quite such a disgusting exhibition of so-called "sport." Both teams were guilty but the blame must be laid primarily on Dartmouth's doorstep. Princeton, obviously the better team, had no reason to rough up Dartmouth. Looking at the situation rationally, we don't see why the Indians should make a deliberate attempt to cripple Dick Kazmaier or any other Princeton player. The Dartmouth psychology, however, is not rational itself."

A few days later the Princeton Alumni published this:

"But certain memories of what occurred will not be easily erased. Into the record books will go in indelible fashion the fact that the last game of Dick Kazmaier's career was cut short by more than half when he was forced out with a broken nose and mild concussion, sustained from a tackle that came well after he had thrown the pass.

The second-period development was followed by a third quarter outbreak of roughness that was climaxed when a Dartmouth player deliberately kicked Brad Glass in the ribs while the latter was on his back. Throughout the often unpleasant afternoon, there was undeniable evidence that the losers' tactics were the result of an actual style of play, and reports on other games they have played this season substantiate this."

But on the Dartmouth side, students saw the game in a very different light. The Dartmouth undergraduate newspaper, the Dartmouth, had this to say:

"However the Dartmouth-Princeton game set the stage for another type of dirty football. A type which may be termed as an unjustifiable accusation.

Dick Kazmaier was injured early in the game. Kazmaier was the star, an All-American. Other stars have been injured before, but Kasmaier had been built to represent a Princeton idol. When an idol is hurt there is only one recourse- the tag of dirty football. So what did the Tiger Coach Charley Caldwell do? He announced to the world that the Big Green had been out to extinguish the Princeton star. His purpose was achieved.

After this incident, Caldwell instilled the old see-what-they-did-to-get-them attitude into his players. His talk got results, Gene Howard and Jim Miller were both injured. Both had dropped back to pass, had passed, and were standing unprotected in the backfield. Result: one bad leg and one broken leg.

The game was rough and did get a bit out of hand in the third quarter. Yet most of the roughing penalties were called against Princeton while Dartmouth received more of the ille-gal-use-of-the hands variety."

And then, a day later, Dartmouth published this:

"Dick Kazmaier of Princeton admittedly is an unusually able football player. Many Dartmouth men traveled to Princeton not expecting a win- only hoping to see an All-American in action. Dick Kazmaier was hurt in the second period, and played only a token part in the remainder of the game. For this, spectators were sorry. Medical authorities have confirmed that as a relatively unprotected passing and running star in a contact sport, he is quite liable to injury. Also, his particular injuries- a broken nose and slight concussion- were no more serious than is expected almost every day in any football practice, where there is no more serious stake than playing the following Saturday. Up to the Princeton Game, Dartmouth players suffered about ten known nose fractures and face injuries, not to mention several slight concussions.

Did Princeton players feel so badly about losing their star? They shouldn't have. During the past undefeated campaign they stopped several individuals stars by a concentrated effort, including such mainstays as Frank Hauff of Navy, Glenn Adams of Pennsylvania and Rocco Calvo of Cornell.

In other words, the same brand of football condemned by the Prince- that of stopping the big man- is practiced quite successfully by the Tigers."

To find out how and why there were two emphatically different takes on the perceptual reality of this game, two steps of data gathering were involved. Firstly, a questionnaire was submitted to both Universities, designed to not only formulate individual reactions, but to gleam a climate of opinion from each institution. This was administered one week after the game, and given to undergraduate students who were taking introductory and intermediate psychology courses.

Secondly, they were shown the same motion picture of the game to undergraduates from both schools, and to fill out a questionnaire that would indicate to them any noted infraction of the rules, both considered "mild" or "flagrant." All questionnaires were carefully coded and transferred to punch cards professionally.

The Results: A marked contrast between the two groups.

Nearly all Princeton students viewed the game to be "rough and dirty" and not one though it "clean and fair." Nine tenths of them thought that Dartmouth started the rough play.

The majority of Dartmouth students thought both sides were to blame, and that the reason for these charges against them was Princeton's concern for their star player. They saw too, only half of the infraction that the Princeton students had noted, with about two to one flagrant to mild, to about one to two for the Dartmouth students.

As a side note. A copy of the movie was sent to a member of a Dartmouth alumni group in the Midwest. He viewed the film, the same film that was sent to Princeton, where they noted nine severe infractions by the Dartmouth players, but he could find none. He wired back to Princeton: " Preview of Princeton movies indicates considerable cutting of important part please wire explanation and possible air mail missing parts before showing scheduled for January 25 we have splicing equipment."

Page 308-309

"Like any other complex social occurrence, a "football game" consists of a whole host of happenings. Many different events are occurring simultaneously. Furthermore, each happening is a link in a chain of happenings, so that one follows another in sequence. The "football game,"as well as other complex social situations, consists of a whole matrix of events. In the game situation, this matrix of events consists of the actions of all the players, together with the behavior of the referees and linesmen, the action on the sidelines, in the grandstands, over the loudspeaker, etc."

Also...

"...a happening generally has significance only if it reactivates learned significances already registered in what we have called a person's assumptive form-world."

Authors note: Perhaps it may be a bit too strong to suggest that newspaper bias is the primary fault. It seems that each individual carries with them a mix of preconceived notions, and this taints their ability to have objective observations. However flawed and biased are these observations, they are nevertheless considered truthful realities to each individual, and that is the rub. Of course these preconceived notions come from a wide variety of places both past and present in the form of cultural and societal norms, systems of education, to a wide fan of subconscious advertisement and propaganda accumulated over a lifetime, and these make up our reality, in spite of the ideal of truth.

Truth, is indeed truth, and universal, but our linear minds, at times, seem unable to grasp it. Emotions such as hope, love, and what is called blind faith are indeed powerful motivators for us human beings, but they are not the vehicles we can readily use to grasp a meaning of truth. If anything, they can taint truth, just as great ideals such as honor and allegiance can also have, and sometimes we will sacrifice our very lives, without the least bit of consideration for actual truth. We will even trust others to direct our immortal souls, giving our individual responsibility and God-given intellect to them in blind faith.

In the world we now face, one thing seems evident and very poignant... we are being played, and the method is scientifically sound. There is a veritable discipline involved in what can only be described as mind control, and we have been groomed, it seems from as far back from mother's knee, to view the world in a particular way, and to justify it by any means possible, or necessary. So much does the ego play a part of this convolution, that some may consider the complete destruction of a billion souls instead of trying, for just one moment, to contemplate if their idealism is based on an actual truth. What capabilities we hold inside, of amazing good and object evil, are as two sides of our human aspect, and what nature we propose for ourselves is as fragile as a lucid thought.

In spite of the many elements that will create a mindset to action, a newspaper should be held responsible. If a newspaper is found negligent, fraudulent, purposely incites violence and hatred by the promotion of half truths, omits relevant information created entirely for the personal gain of sensationalism, they should be held liable and responsible for the outcome. The best way, it seems, other than litigation, is to withdraw advertisement. Truth must be considered profitable, in a world without a moral compass.

And any person interviewed who knowingly lies, should also be held accountable. When a city is razed because of a lie, in spite of an already broken society, those responsible should be brought up on charges of obstruction of justice, mayhem, and murder. We should all be held by the same standard and responsibility for self. Burning and looting should never be tolerated, under any circumstances. They should be photographed in the act, and after the smoke clears, arrested under due process, for crimes against humanity.

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