Media Manipulation Does the American Media Establishment Term Paper

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Media Manipulation

Does the American media establishment consistently reflect and report the news fairly, objectively, factually, and in its entirety? The answer to that question, according to numerous sources, is "no" to fairness, "no" to objectivity, "no" to factuality, and "no" to the entirety. This paper will review and report the opinions of experts and journalists who have analyzed the issue of Media Manipulation of the news. This is not a paper that is predicting a "big brother" conspiracy that is trying to take over America or brainwash all the TV-watching, Internet surfing and newspaper-reading citizens. But there are many issues that the average American should be aware of when trying to read, hear, watch and digest "news" as presented by the media today, and This paper addresses those concerns.

It's very clear from reading through research material on today's media that most Americans get their evening news through half-hour TV programs specializing in dramatic, entertaining video and "sound bites" from politicians, entertainers, and the "man in the street."

Those news shows - from cable, local, and network productions - are often more concerned with ratings (which drive the profitability of television) than with full coverage. That is not a positive trend in American life, and this paper addresses that dynamic as well.

The significance of media manipulation can be seen even more dramatically with a look back at the way television journalism was presented to the public in the recent past. Reporters had guts, and went after government; that is depicted in a new movie, "Good Night and Good Luck," written and directed by actor George Clooney. The movie features the professional life of former CBS television interviewer, Edward R. Murrow, who boldly took on U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy at a time when McCarthy was attacking many well-known people with baseless accusations that they were "communists." An article in the Los Angeles Times (Goldstein, 2005) refers to Murrow as "a real hero" who, like other journalists in his era, "once pursued greatness, not just ratings and ad linage."

Today's public has "cynical attitude" about newsgathering, partly because today's "recognizable journalists" aren't as interested in "uncovering a story as [they are] making themselves part of it," Goldstein writes in the Los Angeles Times.

Why manipulation of news takes place

News manipulation takes place because the government needs the media, and the media needs the government. In fact, the partnering of journalists and government officials is called "perception management," according to Greg Guma (Vermont Guardian, 2005). The example that Guma gives in his article sounds more like journalists and government creating news, making up news in order to lie to the public, rather than merely manipulating the news. In 1950, CIA Director Bill Casey set up a "public diplomacy" system that was created to "sell...a new product," which was "counter-insurgency" in Central America.

Casey's goal was to actually pay journalists (or news media underlings who were instructed by their bosses) to write stories that "reinforced fear of communism." The government needed the media. So, in other words, the media was being funded by the government to help the government justify taxpayer money spend on covert military missions into Central America to fight the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya.

In the George Bush Administration in the early 1990s, journalists were persuaded to support "disinformation" policies by postponing, changing, holding onto or even dumping stories "that could adversely affect purported national security interests," according to Guma's article. The media got power that way, so it needed government.

How manipulation of news is done

The world according to the mass media designed to manipulate by confusing people, according to writers Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon. In fact, the world that the mass media creates "...is supposed to make money." Writing in Unreliable Sources, the authors claim the media's real job is to show "a series of eruptions, each without cause or context." The news media creates this "anarchy" by erasing the past, and presenting "disorienting" reports that are designed to confuse citizens.

Confusion keeps up powerless and controllable," according to psychotherapist Anne Wilson Schaef, quoted in the article. "No one is more controllable than a confused society," she continues, noting that politicians "know this better than anyone," hence they are very good at using "innuendo, veiled references, and out-and-out lies instead of speaking clearly and truthfully."

Like other writers on this topic, Lee and Solomon see a strong link between the media and government, as though the two are co-collaborators in a scheme to not only manipulate, but to control American citizens. They write about "linguicide" - the ongoing "destruction" of the English language - as a tool to confuse people. When the linguicide phrase "tax reform" is talked about by journalists, who are really only parroting what government representatives and politicians have said, it really means something else other than reform. "Tax reform" actually means "huge giveaways to the wealthy."

Other examples of linguicide include using the word "modernization" when what the government is actually doing is building weapons of mass destruction so America has a "deterrent" against perceived enemies. The worst part of linguicide is that people "are apt to mistake" these distortions "for reality."

Analytic comparison: The articles are "2 reminders that journalists once pursued greatness" by Patrick Goldstein, and "Good Night, Good Luck, and bad history," by Jack Shafer.

Inclusion / Exclusion: Goldstein writes about the new movie by George Clooney in an article about how news used to be presented, and how it is presented today. He includes a description of today's media people as being depicted in TV and film as "gushy light-weights - many deservedly so," and he says that the actor who portrays Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) makes Murrow out to be a "real hero," and "uncompromising and incorruptible" like Gary Cooper. He includes the fact - to persuade readers about how bad today's news media is - that a "sense of turmoil" and "low morale," "low ratings, a low public opinion of news, and a string of layoffs" are plaguing today's news. Goldstein is presenting this information to set up his point that in the days of Edward R. Murrow, news people were on a mission to tell the truth, not worry about ratings; and the public needed to trust media to fight bad demagogues like Senator Joe McCarthy.

Inclusion / Exclusion: Shafer writes that if a reader finds that "Jesus Christ no longer satisfies your desire to worship a man as God," then the reader should buy a ticket to "Good Night Good Luck." Shafer includes the name of Jesus Christ to put the movie down. Shafer further makes fun of Murrow - who was a chain smoker on his TV interviews - by saying that Murrow "burns cigarettes like altar incense," and that actor Strathairn "speaks in a resonant, godly rumble." Murrow "was no god," Shafer asserts, and says Murrow should not be thought of as "the patron saint of broadcast" that director George Clooney makes him out to be.

Endorsement / Disparagement: In fact, Goldstein gives an endorsement of Murrow and of the kind of journalism that Murrow practiced, and quotes Murrow's line from the movie: "I simply cannot accept that there are, on every story, two equal and logical sides to an argument." He quotes that Murrow line to disparage today's media people - like MSNBC and CNN and FOX - and then Goldstein writes that what Murrow was saying and practicing "...is a far cry from how today's TV mavens would handle McCarthy." They would simply "referee a squabble between the witch hunter and one of his antagonists," Goldstein writes, and let the audience "decide who offered the more persuasive retorts."

Endorsement / Disparagement: Shafer disparages the Murrow movie while endorsing what others in the media did to bring down the vicious McCarthy, including ABC Television executives by their decision to put the McCarthy hearings on live TV. "That was the exposure that ruined McCarthy, not Murrow's TV show (called "See It Now"). Murrow, Shafer explains in disparaging Murrow and the movie, was "a mortal and flawed newsman"; and the movie was made from "a naive screenplay" with material that was "cherry-picked to compose their [screenwriters Clooney and Grant Heslov] sermon."

Placement: Goldstein writes, in the last column of his article, that "Murrow's courage was in support of a greater cause, our freedom of speech." That statement brings Murrow into the light as a champion of the U.S. Constitution, a far cry from the "flawed" newsman that Shafer says Murrow was.

Placement: Shafer begins his article: "If Jesus Christ no longer satisfies your desire to worship a man as god...." Using a provocative religious name certainly gets the attention of the reader at the beginning of the article. And of course Shafer did that to put down Murrow, by inference.

Information Management

Inclusion / Exclusion: "suppression by omission" occurs is when parts of stories - or entire stories - are not published because they might… [END OF PREVIEW]

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