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General News

Jingo Journalism: Remember the Maine!!!

By       Message William Boardman       (Page 2 of 7 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 3/30/14

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NBC News, in its "First Read feature on March 24, 2014, provided what could some day be a textbook example of how media bias works to make war more thinkable, by emphasizing conflict and ignoring cooperation as appropriate responses to difficult questions (which media also tend to oversimplify). Covering the White House European trip, NBC reporters picked up on an interview President Obama did with a newspaper in the Netherlands, de Volkskrant, which submitted eight questions in advance for the President to answer in writing. The President answered five (relating to Ukraine, the European Union, nuclear weapons, Iran, and the Mideast).   

Without describing (or linking to) those five questions, or their answers, the NBC reporters instead commented: "However, the paper also noted the three questions he did NOT answer. And all of them were MUCH trickier to answer".

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The THREE unanswered questions were the best three questions, and they're the ones we're looking forward to others asking the president later this week." 

This approach by NBC deprives the reader of the opportunity to compare, contrast, and make an independent judgment on all eight questions and answers. Instead, NBC guides its audience to the assumption that the real news is actually NBC's editorial point of view (although that's not said directly). This technique of asking editorially charged questions is common in American "journalism" and helps "news" organizations shape a story to whatever pre-determined perspective might be desired (it's rarely clear who desires it).

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Here, NBC provides an excellent exercise for analyzing fundamentally dishonest questions (questions that, in and of themselves, raise the question of the questioner's agenda). NBC's choice of the "three best questions" comes out of an apparent mindset that represents current conventional wisdom (which, by definition, demands inquiry by those who distrust any herd instinct). Here are the three questions the President left unanswered, and some of the reasons they may not deserve an answer:   

"1. How do you fight the perspective that America withdraws from the world and is no longer feared by his [sic] opponents?"


What does the questioner mean by "the perspective"? Whose perspective? The questioner's perspective? The perspective for a New American Century? Some hypothetical perspective? Is it anyone's perspective at all? Why should such a question even be considered seriously without some clarity on the presumed "perspective"? Without context, it is not a serious question. 

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The first hidden assumption here is that America needs to "fight," that America should fight,  that America should start by fighting a "perspective," but get into a real fight soon enough. The point of the question is to get into a fight, not to consider whether there's anything worth fighting about.

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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