Sunday, December 24, 2006

Practicum: Media Manipulation

Practicum: Media Manipulation
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I do not have time to re-launch the full Deviant Group Survival course, but I do want to say a few things about media manipulation.

The news media exists to perform a few essential functions:

  • make lots of money by selling ads
  • create and reinforce a mass illusion of reality, consistent with the ads
  • build the power and influence of the news media itself

All of the so-called "ethics" of the news media, such as integrity in reporting, protecting sources, etc. boils down to "Don't ruin it for the rest of us by taking short cuts, you dweeb!"

The media often blatantly panders to various political interests. The phrase "All The News That's Fit To Print" takes on a whole new, subtle and nasty meaning.

Fortunately, the Internet has made the news media all but obsolete among the keyboard-wielding set. However, the majority of people out there are NOT among them.

If you could trust the news media to synthesize with accuracy, they would perform a valuable public service. The analogy I will use is Burning Man. Ask a friend who attended what Burning Man was like, in a paragraph or so.

I will bet that your friend's answer will completely blow away any "media" answer, whether newspaper story, magazine article, TV segment, etc. -- because your friend is motivated to be honest with you, and was there with an open mind.

What do you know about the "Minuteman Project?" If you follow the major news media, you know that:

  • President Bush called them vigilantes
  • certain Latino politicians hate them
  • the Governator likes them
  • some of them have guns
  • they are at the international border somewhere in Arizona
  • high-ranking Border Patrol brass doesn't like them
  • they've interfered in Border Patrol operations
  • they're coming to California soon

What you probably don't know is that:

  • they specifically ban racists, white separatists, etc. from their project
  • all they do is call the Border Patrol when they see migrants
  • they have been credited with saving a number of lives by giving water and/or calling for medical attention
  • the California head of the Minuteman project is Latino
  • there are only a handful of Border Patrol agents in their operations area
  • the rank-and-file BP agents love them but don't dare admit it for fear of losing their jobs
  • rural Arizona is firearms-friendly, and not having a firearm would be like not wearing pants
  • members of the project have been specifically forbidden to brandish firearms or to attempt to make arrests for any reason

The media takes certain facts -- that some thoughtful if slightly crazed extremists are carrying out an observation-operation on the US-Mexico border -- and spins them at high torque to attract attention and sell ads. Only the extreme facts are newsworthy.

The media can be a deviant's best friend or worst enemy, having enormous power and very little that can be done to contradict the official "spin."

Hint: what is the Associated Press and why does it still exist?

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