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(3,980 posts)
Thu Oct 4, 2012, 01:20 PM Oct 2012

Thom Hartmann: What the media TELLS you about the debate WILL have a bigger impact then the debate

Here's a little tip before you watch the debate tonight - and before you watch the corporate media's reaction to the debate tonight. What you see in the debate tonight will have little influence on what you take away from the debate. But what the media TELLS you that you saw in the debate WILL have a huge effect. A new study out of Ohio State University shows that viewers of Presidential debates are more affected by the frame in which the media puts the debates than we are by the actual performance or words of the debaters themselves.

To figure out how this works, researchers showed young Americans clips from the 2004 and 2008 Presidential debates. The viewers were then given media coverage of the debates to read. One group was given coverage focused strictly on policy - like why each candidate took the position they took - what effect those policies would have on the nation, and so on - the important stuff we as Americans should be getting from the debates. The other group of viewers was given media coverage that framed the debate as a sporting event - which candidate won, who appealed better to what bloc of voters, and so on - the political horserace stuff. After all that - the debate viewers were then asked to describe the debate as if they were telling a friend what happened.

And here's what the researchers learned: "In this study, the media coverage had a strong effect on whether the viewers engaged in policy reasoning. Even though they all were exposed to the same clip, viewers who read the media article with the game frame -- emphasizing who won the debate -- listed the fewest policy reasons in their description of the debate. Those who read the article with the policy frame listed the most policy reasons." As the lead author of the study - Ray Pingree concluded: “The media have a strong influence on whether viewers think of the debate in terms of a discussion of the issues or simply as a competition between the candidates.”

Now - we know ahead of time which way the corporate media will frame tonight's debate. They're going to frame it like a game or a boxing match. Already - they're asking questions about who will win and who will lose this debate - and whether there will be any knockout punches, low blows, or painful zingers. Already - they're asking how each candidate will appeal to certain blocs of voters. There's been very little talk of policy so far heading into this debate. In fact - the corporate media has framed this entire election like a game - just like they have for many elections before this.

They cover politics like a horserace to jack up ratings, because gladiator competitions are more interesting than policy. Since the corporate media is beholden to corporate advertisers - and thus beholden to ratings - they have to frame their coverage as a sporting event rather than a wonky discussion about policy - even though a wonky discussion about policy is actually what the nation needs right now. Policy is also what the media used to be really good at - before it lost its way in the corporate world. We don't know what questions will be asked in the debate tonight. We can hope that they will be focused on policy - on the stuff we need to know. Stuff like how Mitt Romney's plans to replace Obamacare will lead to 72 million Americans losing their health insurance.

Or how Romney plans another massive tax cut for the super rich folk like himself. Or how President Obama plans to stop the loss of American manufacturing jobs. These are important policy questions that may or may not be asked. But assuming for a moment that this debate does have substance - and will enlighten Americans to the situation or nation is in - then it's important you know how the corporate media will bury all of it with their game frame as soon as the debate ends. If you want to know about the issues that really matter - then watch for that media spin and ignore it.

The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann on RT TV & FSTV "live" 9pm and 11pm check www.thomhartmann.com/tv for local listings
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Thom Hartmann: What the media TELLS you about the debate WILL have a bigger impact then the debate (Original Post) thomhartmann Oct 2012 OP
That might have been true before "the Facebook" and "the Twitter." MADem Oct 2012 #1
How young were the young Americans? Older Americans are less easily influenced. McCamy Taylor Oct 2012 #2


(135,425 posts)
1. That might have been true before "the Facebook" and "the Twitter."
Thu Oct 4, 2012, 01:25 PM
Oct 2012

But those two social media outlets are telling me that BIG BIRD won the debate, and Jim Lehrer lost.

I'm old, but I don't truck with old paradigms. We're not passive absorbers anymore. We are the fourth wall and the fourth wall has something to say, too.

This essay might have had some currency "BC" -- before computers.

But the internet changes everything--no one, least of all fans of Big Bird--gives a shit what "the media" is trying to tell us. The media does NOT CONTROL THE NARRATIVE ANYMORE>

If the media mattered, rMoney would have his huge bounce. But even Rasmussen says he didn't get one.

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