Bias in the Media

Media bias comes in two forms, the suppression of news coverage and the coverage of news in a manner that constitutes propaganda. Propaganda, or what we are being told and sold, makes up half the problem of biased reporting, the other half of the problem lies in the suppression of news.

In an article I was reading this morning, published by POLITICO, there was a great quote by Sharyl Attkisson, “The images that the public sees every day, in many forms, are influenced and manipulated by political, corporate and other special interests through orchestrated and well-financed campaigns.”

I had great hopes, for a brief moment, that for once the media would discuss the presence of and issues caused by corporate or special interest bias in the media. Sadly, rather than branching out past the standard issue of political bias in the media, the article only focused on the well discussed presence of political bias.

Political bias/propaganda is fairly easy for most people to identify, and the educated can maneuver through it with little difficulty. Although frustrating, political bias is not the real danger because it is relatively obvious. It is the corporate and special interest bias/propaganda that hold the real danger for the public, because of the difficulty identifying the motivation. We could say, “It is all about money,” but this oversimplification obscures the difficulties we face in identifying what money is purchasing. Certainly, a corporation would want to increase its earnings and thereby wish to wage a campaign against anything that threatens earning potential, but unlike with pure political bias, the public is more often then not unaware the campaign is being waged. Special interest bias/propaganda is even more difficult to identify, because unlike in a political campaign where the special interest group is identified at the end, news coverage does not include a “paid for by” statement at the end of each news story. Nor will you hear a “this story which we did not cover was suppressed by” statement during the news coverage.

While many can learn to read between the lines of propaganda and glean an understanding of bias, one cannot read between the lines when there are no lines due to suppression.

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Here’s My Cape – Does Anyone Want It?

This morning’s breakfast conversation centered on the international events headlining the news, and my ongoing attempt to write a thesis on the diplomatic history of the twentieth century. The central theme of the discussion revolved around the notion that great powers prefer a world were there are many large nations rather than many small nations. The conversation also turned to the problems created by superpowers.

When the Cold War ended, many in the United States naively celebrated the idea of being the only superpower. Many believed that being a superpower was better than being one of the great powers, and the opportunity to shed the role of superpower was waived.  Now, after a quarter century of being the sole superpower whether in reality or in myth, a greater comprehension  of the responsibilities and the dangers of being a superpower has developed.

The problem, however, is that when the United States now asks, “Here’s my cape, does anyone want it?” no one steps up to take it.

When Edna Mode, of The Incredibles, said “no capes,” is this what she was really warning us about? Are superpower capes just too dangerous? Should the capes simply be retired and replaced with the plain clothes of diplomacy?

It is with this question on my mind that I return to the realm of history and try for a few hours to shut out the political realities of the day.

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Saith Me… Post-Traumatic Cold War Disorder

I have reached a point when my thesis and the events of the day have brought me to a strange observation. Those of us born before 1980 seem to be suffering from  Post-traumatic Cold War Disorder.

Traumatized by the endless Cold War propaganda and rhetoric of our youth, we can no longer view the world through any lens other than a Cold War lens. Even the slightest hint of turbulence or discord between the USA and Russia sends us hunting for our bomb shelters or our protest signs. We see the world as us or them and begin to verbally attack anyone who does not sound like us as we split the world in two. We even view neutrality as an enemy.

Sadly, this disorder makes us paranoid that the actions of the other side are indicative of their determination to eradicate us from the earth rather than simply a manifestation of their desire to protect their own self-interests. In our race to divide the world, we neglect to see how the other side is acting just as we act. We see only differences and never similarities.

I love studying the Cold War, but I would like to see it remain in the realm of history rather than reignited by those throughout the world with questionable motives. I would love for the Post-traumatic Cold War Disorder to be a thing of fiction and not of reality.

 

 

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Reporting the News: a Psychic Creation

I  wish journalists would study more than historical talking-points before tackling foreign policy issues, particularly the effectiveness of intervention wars.

If the history of foreign policy is not their strong suit, bringing in an ‘expert’ would be fine. Bringing in two opposing ‘experts’ would be better, especially if the ‘experts’ were really ‘experts’ and not just the talking heads of the day.

When did reporting the news become nothing more than selling the news? Maybe it has always been that way but there are simply more annoying ways to sell it today.

Propaganda has always had a role in war, and even without governmental encouragement media has spread war stimulating propaganda. It all seems to revolve around having a good story to tell. Sadly, the good story, which spreads like wildfire in the blink of an eye or the click of a share button, can and does affect the public and the officials who in the end create the events that make the news. Reporting the news, therefore, takes on the nature of predicting the future, but a future the psychic has helped create.

It has been fascinating to discover how often propaganda has been shared by the media without the urging of a government. As we swim through the dangerous waters of governmental oversight, we should worry about the other dangerous creature in the water. Drowning may not be what kills us, but rather the sharks feeding off our fear of the water. 

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

Saith Me… Opinionated and Uninformed

It is amazing how many uniformed people have such strong opinions, and such strong desires to share those opinions.

Under-informed and curious, good combination. Uninformed and angry, not such a good combination.

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

Saith Me… Teaching Fear or Self-worth?

We are a society that teaches fear rather than choice and accountability.

This process of teaching fear begins at our basic needs of ‘food and shelter’. Clothing is part of the “shelter” and we are taught that our choices in clothing are responsible for the actions of others. Should not the choices and actions of others make them accountable and not us?

Teaching fear is not an effective way of teaching the importance of choice and accountability.  It does not help us make wise decisions and does not promote the development of wisdom. Fear weakens us rather than strengthens us. It creates victims rather than creating self-worth. 

History of Intervention

Over the past few months, I have been studying the history of intervention as part of my pursuit of a Master’s in Military and Diplomatic History. There seems to be two common lessons to learn from the history of military intervention.

First:

There is no “getting it right.” Military intervention forcibly halts conflict for a time but does not end conflict. It always comes back. Inaction will cause many to suffer. Action will cause many to suffer. Therefore, do we intervene and cause suffering in order to stop suffering, all the while simply postponing war for the next generation? Or do we let war run its course and watch a generation die?

Second:

Stopping regional war but risking international world war is not usually worth the price. Unfortunately, no one can figure out when the price is worth paying. When 100,000 die? When multiple nations topple? When the threat reaches your own back door?

 

There is one new lesson being recorded for our posterity even as I post this.

Those who call for war are seldom the ones who fight the war. This is nothing new, but it is being documented in great volume in the news and social media. Armchair warriors cry for a strong stand against tyranny and call it weakness when diplomacy is used. They approve of the jobs created by military buildup but disapprove of paying the bill. They think war is like a game of Risk, a game that when an impasse is reached you box it up and put it on the shelf for the next time you feel like prancing around like a peacock. Being strong means looking strong rather than acting strong.

What we should be learning.

The one thing that history doesn’t seem to teach anymore is the value of stepping back from a fight and trying for peace once again. When this choice is made, if it is made, it is belittled and viewed as a weakness. It, rather than warmongering, is called the cause of future conflict.

President Teddy Roosevelt said “Speak softly and carry a big stick…” But we do not speak softly any more.

Machiavelli advised to be respected rather than loved. He used the word “feared” but his context inferred respected because the Prince should avoid being hated.

The person who always carries a big stick will eventually be hated – hated for acting, hated for not acting, and hated for the threat of the big stick. Sadly, this is the lesson history is trying to teach but a lesson we just don’t seem to be learning.

 

Saith Me… Debate or Tirade

Differing perspectives can elevate our comprehension of complex issues, but they can also drag us down into a pit of malevolence when discussion and debate are replaced by an unbending quest to convert or conquer.

News of Declassifications through FOIA

The real news is not simply that stuff gets declassified. The real news is that every day scholars seek more declassification of information through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) without seeking fame. It is from their efforts that we have a chance to broaden our understanding and not simply our talking points.

Saith Me… Fact Check Rant

It is understandable that we may not have time to fact check every story that pops up in the news. However, it is appalling that inflammatory or sensational stories are so readily and eagerly shared by people who are not the authors and have not taken the time to check the basic facts. As dismayed as slanted media makes me, I am more dismayed by the people willing to share stories that are more tabloid than news, more lies than truth. In an age of information, it is discourteous to pass on incorrect material – regardless of what political agenda you may think will benefit from a “bit of exaggeration.”

Check the facts