Last time I left you with a teaser where I would delve into how the Main Stream Media (MSM) uses tone and vocabulary to steer agendas. So, let me start with one example. This will be the first in an ongoing series, dissecting the manner in which our news is crafted to elicit specific responses.
We’ve recently had the Presidential Inauguration, so that seems a good place to start. Let’s begin with a most innocuous news source: TV Guide.
On the TV Guide website, the company describes itself as such: TV Guide is a digital media brand that explores TV shows and streaming entertainment, serves fans, and helps people decide what to watch next – on any platform.
One would expect this company, providing its users with listing information, to present as a rather unbiased entity.
One would be wrong.
Look at the vast differences between Biden’s Inauguration coverage information and Trump’s.
From TV Guide, 2016 Inauguration Coverage:
HEADLINE: How to watch (or avoid) Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day coverage
BODY: After a deeply divisive election, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States on Friday in a day-long ceremony that will be covered by every major news network. We have all the deets on how to watch on TV or online.
And if you don’t want to watch the Inauguration, we also have you covered, with details about where you can watch protests like the Women’s March and other demonstrations that will be going on over the weekend, including a concert by some of Broadway’s best-known voices.
From TV Guide, 2021 Inauguration Coverage:
HEADLINE: Biden Inauguration: Rewatch President’s Speech, Lady Gaga’s Anthem, Jennifer Lopez’s Performance, and the Celebrating America Special
Here’s how you can revisit all the festivities.
BODY: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were officially sworn into their new offices on Wednesday, Jan. 20, just before noon ET. Their historic inauguration was a star-studded event; Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, Jennifer Lopez performed “This Land Is Your Land” and “America, The Beautiful,” and Garth Brooks sang “Amazing Grace.” The ceremony also featured a stirring reading from Amanda Gorman, the United States Poet Laureate, who captured the nation’s attention with a work she finished after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Now, if you’re a Biden fan and Trump hater, you ask, “What’s the big deal?”
Well, the “big deal” is that this type of coverage is not even close to being neutral. This is a TV program site which blatantly slants their listing information to make a Democrat President look good and a Republican President look bad.
To me, this is part of the process of creating herd mentality. When people read articles that are written to promote a certain idea, and also written to seem as if everyone agrees with that idea, readers are more likely to accept the idea because they want to go along with the crowd. Something popular has to be correct, right?
Companies have been doing this successfully through advertising, marketing, social influencing, et. al. We didn’t know we needed deodorant until the advertisers convinced us that people were talking behind our backs about our stench. Don’t stink. Don’t be the subject of gossip. Go with the herd.
Apple or Android? You’re in one herd or another. Nike or Reebok? Again, one herd or another. Tesla or Prius? Star Trek or Star Wars?
One of the tricks of door-to-door sales people is to tell us that one our neighbors just bought their product. “I was just talking to Mr. Gomez, who lives on the corner, and he bought two because he thought it was such a great deal.”
People don’t like to be left behind. They want to be part of the pack. If the pack signed up for lawn treatment, then I will, too! If the pack got a new iPhone, then I will, too! If the pack hates President Trump, then I do, too!
That’s what articles can do. They can persuade our behavior through group consensus, even if that consensus doesn’t exist. (Or, it does exist, but not at the level presented.)
When TV Guide wrote the headline, “How to watch (or avoid) Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day coverage,” the assumption was that a vast number of people hated Trump enough to not watch a Presidential Inauguration. Likewise, when they described Biden’s Inauguration, the assumption changed. It was written as if everyone would want to watch a Presidential Inauguration.
And, what is the reader left with? Both elections divided us a country. Both elections were called into question by the losing side. Both elections stirred emotions and resulted in protests. Both elections left one side hopeful and one side despondent.
Since the two election cycles left half our population in distress, why wouldn’t TV Guide assume that those people would also want to avoid President Biden’s Inauguration, just as Hillary Clinton supporters would want to avoid President Trump’s?
It begs the question.