Wednesday, October 28, 2015


MainStreamMedia - the business practice has evolved over the years.

When folks had access to just a couple of newspapers, a couple of radio and TV stations, news services were valued for timely informational content, for clarifying things.  When hundreds of channels and internet sites appeared, competing news services began adjusting their focus and presentation, targeting ideological segments of the market.

Revenues depend on ratings which depend on engagement which requires selective and emphasized presentations designed to appeal to and capture a particular audience.

This isn't really freedom of the press, is it.  Perhaps MSM is really MildlyStupidMusings or MoreSlantedMush, but it's not 'just the news' any more.  We all know that.

Actually, it's advertising.
If you were to use the same visual and narrative framework from MSM for, say, a new car model, it would look like today's advertising. The elements are the same, offering the appearance of information but actually designed and presented to appeal, to persuade, to reinforce a particular slant.  Whether the content is political, ideological, or cultural, it's a slanted sales pitch.  (That's the description of propaganda, by the way.)

Watching the news, the only thing we know for sure is that none of the MSM providers are 'fair and balanced'.  Knowing the direction and degree of bias for a provider helps.

The result of competitive propagandizing is the polarization we see today, a marked increase over recent decades.  Republicans and Democrats are farther apart than at any time in history, and both are extreme or nearly so.  Liberals and conservatives have little middle ground they share.

Most of us have deliberately chosen to distrust advertising.  We understand it's more persuasion than information.  We might reconsider our preference in information sources and our willingness to accept content just because it matches our preferences.   That isn't objectivity.  It isn't even honesty, is it.  Wouldn't we be better served by a more thoughtful consideration of all sides of an issue?

Def/Ref:  Media bias occurs when the media systematically emphasizes one particular point of view in a way that contravenes the standards of professional journalism. Claims of media bias include liberal bias, conservative bias, mainstream bias, and corporate bias. To combat this, a variety of watchdog groups research and report the facts behind both biased reporting and unfounded claims of bias.  Research about media bias is now a subject of systematic scholarship in a variety of academic and business disciplines.  Note: that includes how to do propaganda effectively.

"Philosopher Harry Frankfurt, in his essay On Bullshit, attempts a rigorous philosophical definition of bullshit. For Frankfurt, this consists of drawing a sharp distinction between a bullshitter and a liar; the difference being that a liar cares enough about the truth to state known falsehoods, whereas a bullshitter does not care because some other goal is paramount. "Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."[Ref] 
An illustrative example of Frankfurt's distinction between lies and bullshit is the methodology of various currents of political extremism. Historically, the rhetoric of the far-right has relied primarily on lies (e.g., conspiracy theories involving Illuminati, Jews, the Red Scare, New World Order, etc.), while the rhetoric of the far-left has relied primarily on bullshit (e.g., postmodernism, politicized New Age natterings). This makes it much easier to discredit the right-wing extremists than the left-wing ones, although their statements generally contain identical amounts of truth. Although this is not so much the case now with the latest methodological shifts among conservatives who tend to align with the Religious Right - of particular note is the replacement of evidentialist with presuppositionalist creationism, which is bullshit combined with lies and added denial on top."  [Ref]