web counter Media Lies: Astute observations

Saturday, January 01, 2005

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Astute observations

Cori Dauber makes some astute observations about the the old media's careful use of words to shape the agenda and alter perceptions about the war on terror.
Here's the thing: long time readers are familiar with my argument that the press tries to reframe September 11th as if it were not the beginning of a war. This is done visually in the broadcast medium by excising the footage of the planes hitting the towers. It's done with language in the print medium, but altering the name of what happened that day, no longer referring to the "attack" of September 11th, or the "atrocities" or September 11, and instead referring to the "tragedy."

The difference of course is that when you see the planes hit the building, and when you speak of an attack, you make it clear that there was human agency involved: that other human beings caused this to happen to us through their choices and actions.

When you only show buildings burning and collapsing, and speak of a "tragedy," then what happened could just as easily have been the result of a natural disaster -- there is no human agency and thus no morality attached to it.

It is not the start of a war, and war is not necessarily the appropriate response.

The appropriate emotional response is grief, and not anger. We should seek closure, and not security.
Make no mistake about it. Writers choose their words deliberately to accomplish the purpose they have in mind. Never attribute to accident what is obviously driven by calculation.

Cori then points out that, having constructed this frame, the writer uses it to frame the tragedy in Southeast Asia. But this trivializes the tragedy, which is well beyond any recorded event in history in its devastation and long term impact on the people of that area. Entire islands have disappeared. Entire cities have been flushed of their occupants. As bad as 9/11 was, it isn't in any way comparable to what happened in SE Asia, nor should it be.

To mix the two events, so completely antipodal in their causes and their impacts, unmasks an agenda so obdurate as to be inimical to truth or even simple facts.