Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wherein I Have Some Fun in a Quickie Media Debate

From Real Art comments in reference to this post from a day or two ago:

well, to be quite frank, i think that you are taking shots from foxnews and slanting them to your favor...

however, i am by no means trying to defend foxnews...they do, indeed, show these heinous clips--i challenge you to scrutinize cnn or msnbc in the same way...regardless of what media source you choose, they will all be laced with pompous, outlandish claims...oh wait, is that because a driving purpose of television is to draw in viewers? sorry, i'm getting too rhetorical.

these media magnates all have an innate agenda to rack up viewers...they, in essence, play the same stories, but narrate them in different lights...perhaps in lights that might be the most enticing to their target audience.

look, ron, don't hate the players...hate the game--it's bigger than you think

mustard fart in the wind
I'm not 100% sure on this, but I strongly suspect that Mr. Fart is one of the undergraduates to whom I teach beginning acting at LSU, and I think I know which one. But, hey, this is very cool. This is exactly the kind of discussion I'm always hoping Real Art starts. So discuss I will. Here's how I responded:
Mustard Fart:

I'm not even sure where to begin responding to you. There are quite a few assumptions embedded in your comment that I don't share. For starters, I think it's clear that you didn't click through any of the links in the post, which will show you something like five times as many screen shots as I showed. Nonetheless, fifteen to twenty pictures does not a statistical sample make, so you raise a good point. On the other hand, FOX's blatant right-wing propagandizing, on the whole, has been well documented elsewhere, see Alterman's book What Liberal Media?, Robert Greenwald's documentary video Outfoxed, and virtually the entire Media Matters for America website, for more on this.

Trust me, I don't have to do any slanting at all to condemn FOX "News." Such an exercise has by now become tantamount to "shooting fish in a barrel" as one essayist has recently observed. But a picture paints a thousand words, which is why I linked to the picture collections. It's good, hard-hitting stuff.

As for CNN or MSNBC, or even ABC or the New York Times for that matter, I have scrutinized them, repeatedly, over the years. The picture with these more "mainstream" news media outlets is more complicated than, but ultimately similar to, the FOX picture. That is, when all is said and done, virtually all of the so-called MSM has a major rightward tilt, by and large due to the fact that they are owned and run by major corporations and tend to favor their views, but there are other complicating issues as well, and, yes, one of them is that the news is far, far more about attracting audiences to advertisers than about providing important information to citizens in a democracy. See my post from some years back on Chomsky and Hermann's Propaganda Model, which is an institutional analysis of the news media business.

Finally, you say "don't hate the players...hate the game." I'm not really sure what you mean by that. There wouldn't be any "game" if people refused to play. That is, there isn't any real demarcation between "players" and "game." They're the same thing, and consequently both worthy of contempt.

On the whole, I'd say that it's pretty clear that this is much bigger than you think. Go do some more reading and then we can have a real debate.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Fart returns for more fun and games!