Analyzing Bias in the LA Times

This article in the LA Times,found here, is called Circumcision wars:The other side weighs in, by Karin Klein. The piece starts off by introducing a topic that is getting some buzz: the topic of outlawing circumcision of baby boys in the United States. There are many facts in the article but the letter itself is aimed at a specific audience. This whole piece is really an information opinion on a hot topic, not a informational news piece. We will now go into the details to show slanted language and charged words that reveal the audience it was intended for.

Klein starts off by bringing up abortions as a comparison to this topic, which by itself already a very shaky place to start off, especially by putting it into the first sentence- which would more than likely draw more religious readers to keep reading on. She also uses charged words such as “kooks,” she does not specifically call this group of people that are trying to outlaw circumcision “kooks” but she does bring it up, which is unnecessary. The negative light this group of people is being set in forms the first chunk of her opinion.

“They managed to get a measure on …” saying this fact with this slant sounds to me personally like a drawn out process, if she were to say “succeeded in getting…” –I would have felt more uplifted about the accomplishment. “The California Legislature quickly intervened, passing a law that made it (rightly) clear that the state is in charge of determining medical law…” — The word “clearly” in that statement is very opinion oriented and shows her stance on the subject.

In the second paragraph she uses comparisons to help the reader relate. It goes into very little detail about how a German court ruled that circumcision is illegal in that country. Also she compares piercings to the matter as well. Klein includes the fact that Muslims and Jews did compare the circumcision matter to piercing baby’s ears, but the fact of the matter is that she did not need to include this information, because it places less seriousness in those groups. It makes the reader feel like this is a big joke. In this paragraph she uses comparison to belittle other groups that are against the legalization of circumcision.

In the last two paragraphs the writer uses more comparisons to explain the issue. This time Klein uses religion and medical care for her slanting. “It would be much tougher to institute a total ban in this country…”– In this excerpt Klein clearly uses an inference gathered from other facts. The way she tells facts to the reader is very one sided as well.–”…health benefits of circumcision outweigh risks.” But she does not give opposing studies for us to compare to. This shows more slanting. She does say how the studies are slowly changing stance but really doesn’t give any examples of how. “Permanent change” is another charged phrase to make you feel binded and forced into a situation. “Before he is old enough to choose”– Also does not need to be in there, it could have been easily changed to “before he is grown”– this would really take out the emotion that is invoked with her statement.

All together this piece is obviously a opinion piece, because of Klein’s use of charged language and skewed facts. Klein has the right to her opinion but some readers might mistake this for a news article. Those who would confuse this for an informational news piece would be readers who agree with her. This audience would be people who believe that circumcision is okay, and should not be banned. These might also be the people who also think those on the other side are “kooks.”



  1. Karin Klein says:

    I’m the writer of the Times piece. It seems to have escaped the writer of this article that I am an editorial writer, not a news reporter, and that the article on circumcision was labeled as an opinion piece under the “Opinion L.A.” blog of the Times. it was not a news or feature story, or a news analysis. It’s supposed to have a “slant.”

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