By Douglas Moran
Plethora of propaganda provides media literacy lessonsUploaded: Nov 12, 2020
"If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do, you are misinformed." (^unknown^). The media coverage of the Presidential election controversy has been highly partisan and disingenuous. So, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" For parents, these can provide examples to show their children the techniques used. Among family and friends, they can provide a game of "Who can spot the most ...".
This blog is one of my occasional visits to the topic of media literacy -- that is, deep skepticism of reporting -- and the related, more general skill of critical/close reading. Although the topics of the example articles are of current interest, those topics themselves are irrelevant here. I want to encourage you to do preliminary processing of statements based upon word choice and grammar before spending mental energy on their logic, consistency, and credibility of purported facts.
Note: This blog is not intended to be factual reporting, but advocacy, and so I am allowed to use various rhetorical practices in attempting to be persuasive.
One good starting point is the New York Times' "^The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud^" (2020-11-10) (^Archive - 5 updates already^). It provides multiple examples of partisan word-smithing.
In traditional news articles, the beginning provided a quick overview and the reader got more details as they read further down, with the expectation that most readers weren't that interested and would stop way short of that. That has been increasingly perverted to have the publication's advocacy at the top with the middle and end providing contrary, even contradicting, information that the publisher can point to when they are accused of being deceptive, even libelous, in the early statements.
This NYT example is unusual because the switch from amplifying their advocacy to contradicting it occurs in the middle of the subheading: "The president and his allies have baselessly claimed that rampant voter fraud stole victory from him. Officials contacted by The Times said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome." (emphasis added). The body continues with statements that contradict the headline.
I chose this NYT article as a starter not just because it contains many easily detected examples, but because there is a good video talking about it -- for those who would rather listen than read. It is by a Canadian lawyer applying his skills at drafting and reading legal documents to this article. I would classify it as not being politically partisan, except that I know that there are those who classify anything not supporting their partisan positions as being partisan against them. That video is "^New York Time DENIES Election Voter Fraud? Viva Frei Vlawg^" - (2020-11-11) (13 minutes).
Appropriate comments include pointers to other illustrative examples that have a corresponding analysis of the manipulation being perpetrated. Or closely related observations, analysis, etc. However, comments about the subject matter of the examples being discussed are off-topic and will be deleted.
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.
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