The media is a propaganda machine.
It has to be. In order to update you perfectly on a single issue, it would need more time than it took that issue to unfold. Let’s take something as simple as reporting on a meeting in Parliament. You’d need, to accurately report that meeting, to essentially just replay the meeting, and then explain every single person present’s interest and likely takeaways. For a simple fifteen-minute routine political meeting, you might wind up spending as long as three hours. The common person’s attention space really just isn’t that long, and the media is a capital-based enterprise.
What does that mean? They need to make money. They need people tuning in and subscribing and persuading others to tune in and subscribe. Since accurate reporting is impossible, journalists have termed to itemised summaries of events which they term “stories.”
Let’s take our political meeting. The “story” could be that one of the aides in the room has come under suspicion of being an agent for a foreign government. Or, the two leading figures in the meeting are both involved in a higher-level affair and the meeting is a gauge of their comfort with one another.
This would lead the reporter to focus on certain facets of the meeting, and then tell the story of those components through an array of quotations, interviews, quick video and whatever else.
The common man, of course, is only viewing the meeting through the attentions of the journalist. He knows what he is told and a smattering of information he has previously been told. If the journalist presents only two figures as important, for example through a fairly common archetypal headline like, “John and Matt meet as aides look on,” the meeting changes dimensions.
How do you know those are aides? They’re almost certainly aiding someone, but the headline seems to apportion their presence to the presence of the journalist’s prefer take on the meeting, which may not be the truth.
Media spins not necessarily by lying, but about what it presents, how it presents those things, and then what it says about them. We’ll go through a few notable examples of the types of behaviour you’ll see on most if not all media.
What Is Presented
What the particular media fount presents for the viewer’s attention typically has a lot to do with that outlet’s market research. For example, if the media found has discovered that its ratings are mainly generated by middle-to-late-aged Boomers who vote left more often than they vote right, and if those views (and therefore revenue from ad-agencies and other sources) remain constant or are growing, one can expect that that media network will slowly re-organise itself to cater to the leftist views of an older generation.
The same media fount can vary in programming between regions as in the case of the larger organisations, and some variability will naturally apply to them depending on where their particular research is originating.
So when CBC in Canada focuses on Justin Trudeau’s faltering political conduct, as an example I witnessed last night (around midnight on January 12th), that means that it isn’t focusing on anything else around the country for the night.
Not Maxime Bernier rapidly gaining headway as the next leader of the Conservative Party which affects the domestic political landscape in severe ways, not variating oil prices caused by Libya re-activating its western oil fields, or by OPEC collusion rapidly falling apart which affects the Canadian economy in critical ways. No, instead they focused on a man-child’s inability to retain his composure or observe some fairly archaic rules of Canadian politics.
Granted the man-child is the Prime Minister of Canada, and his mistakes do grant the opposition some clout, but in the grand scheme of things a simple mis-use of a lobbyist’s airplane and some overspending is something most if not all Canadian MPs could probably be rightly accused of—power corrupts.
And that’s the lesson, here. Journalism follows themes of human interest, and usually ones that cause viewer agreement. Power corrupts—just look at Trudeau! Lots of old Boomers who vote left vigorously nod their heads.
Confirmation bias creates ratings. Similarly, the media will only capture President-Elect Trump when he is indulging himself in his typical over-exuberance. The late boomers, of course, are an entire generation who managed to fool themselves into voting for people of outwardly-statesmanlike appearance but who turned out to be almost incorrigibly corrupt or venal or stupid—from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama.
They are characterised by an over-emphasis of importance placed on how one looks against the reality of their policy, and so the journalists of CBC show their hand over and over and over.
How Things Are Presented
It’s always amused me that though I went through University for both journalism and persuasive writing, and was always reminded to include counter-arguments in my work as Aristotelean completionism (that is, a work is not complete unless it counters arguments that might be raised against it) none of this is ever present in the world of business.
The media doesn’t include counter-arguments. Have you ever seen a conservative raising valid opinions on a liberal (they’re all liberal, yes, even FOX) media show? You can’t. Risking convincing people that the conservatives might be right is risking an organisation like CBC losing a bunch of viewers, or having to expend a lot of money with fresh research and programming.
Therefore, what you’ll typically see on CBC if a “counter argument” is needed to validate a speculative thrust, is an “expert” who is known to be a complete moron by both sides but who gets a lot of television time because of exactly that.
As the audience is more and more exposed to say, a right-winger who is evangelical Christian (not right wing, in other words, as Christianity requires centralisation and submission) no matter how intelligent, their perceptions will slides generally toward that as referent material for the generic right-winger or conservative.
This is despite the marked separation of church and state in Western society.
Similarly, in an age of reverence for statesmen, all figures which the media has determined must be villainized (that is, anyone who threatens the values of late-Boomer, left-aligned viewership, traditionally growing up during the 60s and 70s) must be attributed values which are negative, or non-statesmanlike.
Therefore, Obama is praised because he is polite and outwardly very pleasant, where Donald Trump and every conservative political figure before him is castigated for being loud, unprofessional, and being conservative.
Therefore you will only see examples of those figures saying something dumb, and will never see when Hillary Clinton derides most of the American voter base as being “deplorable,” or when Barack Obama repeatedly remarks that the manufacturing class (majoritively middle-class and white) is “stupid” and “lost in the past,” nor note when his Affordable Care Act literally violated in practice every single one of the promises he made to alleviate the concern over it; “you can keep your plan! You can keep your doctor!” and so forth.
I don’t highlight the above to attack the left, as a sidenote. I note those things because you will not see them on CBC. They are an example as to how certain figures are portrayed against the already-popularised portrayal of others.
Because in the end, the media can only do this to you if you’re only watching one source of media. If you tune in religiously to CNN or CBC or MSNBC or 660AM Talk Radio or whatever it happens to be and rarely note any other media sources that contrast it, you are part of the problem. If you only watch Breitbart and @PrisonPlanet, you should tune in to BBC. Similarly, if you only watch CBC, you should check in with @LaurenSouthern, Ezra Levant and Rebel Media.
The Information Age has a two-faceted problem. Not only is information readily available, but things that only look like information are now ubiquitous. The problem I have with the “fake news” controversy is that there is no real news. Every single item that crosses your eye or ear will be slanted, faked and produced and you need, need need to stop paying attention to single sources. Everyone has a price, and in many, many cases, those prices have already been paid.
Go and get yours from everywhere at once. Follow lots of people on Twitter. Or Gab. Or whatever. The only time when diversity is a total positive is when it refers to your information intake, so go and get some.