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July 22, 2004

The Media Head Fake

So a report that nuclear missiles had been found in Iraq was pretty quickly refuted. Although coverage has been limited, a quick look at Yahoo!'s news search suggests that the refutation was reported more prominently than the possibility of discovery.

Probably very few supporters or, especially, opponents of war expect to find anything as clear as mounted nuclear warheads. Moreover, just as few supporters hinged their support on such a tremendous find. However, the blip does provide an opportunity to observe one way in which the media shapes the news.

As we've seen with many of the fool's gold finds for the Bush Lied! prospectors, massive reportage of a claim or finding gives the public a sense that something is, or at least could be, true. The subsequent retractions or substantial rephrasings, usually more subdued, are rarely enough to right the gut feeling of citizens whose politics are mostly decided at that level.

Sadly, the gut has increasingly reigned supreme even among those who are supposed to be better informed — hence the opinion among ostensibly respectable people that Michael Moore's film illustrates some underlying truth, even though it is built entirely upon falsehood, that "the confusions trailing Mr. Moore's narrative are what make 'Fahrenheit 9/11' an authentic and indispensable document of its time."

In an informational climate in which the charges of one side are shouted, while the rebuttals and other charges of the opposite side are whispered, who wouldn't be confused?

Posted by Justin Katz at July 22, 2004 2:02 PM
News Media
Comments

"In an informational climate in which the charges of one side are shouted, while the rebuttals and other charges of the opposite side are whispered, who wouldn't be confused?"

I used to be one who denied there was a general media bias on the grounds that the media needed to do their job and find stories regardless of who it was about (i.e.: either Democrat or Republican)

Now I'm starting to believe that if we did find WMD in Iraq that it is possible the journalists there would ignore the story and work hard to hide the WMD - just so that Bush couldn't get the credit.

Also, if some positive economic news came out (not that I think a President should get credit or blame for economy or jobs) such as - "one million jobs created this month". The mainstream media would probably not report it.

Of course, journalists are allowed to have a political agenda. But I used to think that their political views did not ultimately affect how they did their job. I was mistaken.

P.S. Justin - this comment is in complete agreement with your post.

Posted by: Mark Miller at July 22, 2004 4:40 PM