An excellent piece by a former AP reporter, discussing how news organizations report about Israel, but I find this point to be true about nearly all news reporting:
The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism
I don’t know President Obama or Sarah Palin, or for that matter people like Steve Ballmer or Steve Jobs (public figures I’ve met in person). I only know the description provided to me by other people. Same thing goes for big organizations, even countries, the only (partial) exception being the ones where I have personally worked or lived. When I do have some first-hand experience, I almost always find that outside reporting, even when factually correct, puts emphasis differently than I would.
Robin Hanson’s Overcoming Bias blog is another source of wisdom on the overall subject of how to avoid being fooled by what you read or think you know.