Monday, August 02, 2004

Next on MNN (the Manchurian News Network) 

Krugman!! -- on the Democratic convention, as depicted in the script from which your So-Called Liberal Media are disinclined to deviate:
Commercial broadcast TV covered only one hour a night. We'll see whether the Republicans get equal treatment. C-Span, on the other hand, provided comprehensive, commentary-free coverage. But many people watched the convention on cable news channels - and what they saw was shaped by a script portraying Democrats as angry Bush-haters who disdain the military.

If that sounds like a script written by the Republicans, it is. As the movie "Outfoxed" makes clear, Fox News is for all practical purposes a G.O.P. propaganda agency. A now-famous poll showed that Fox viewers were more likely than those who get their news elsewhere to believe that evidence of Saddam-Qaeda links has been found, that W.M.D. had been located and that most of the world supported the Iraq war.

CNN used to be different, but Campaign Desk, which is run by The Columbia Journalism Review, concluded after reviewing convention coverage that CNN "has stooped to slavish imitation of Fox's most dubious ploys and policies." Seconds after John Kerry's speech, CNN gave Ed Gillespie, the Republican Party's chairman, the opportunity to bash the candidate. Will Terry McAuliffe be given the same opportunity right after President Bush speaks?

Commentators worked hard to spin scenes that didn't fit the script. Some simply saw what they wanted to see. On Fox, Michael Barone asserted that conventioneers cheered when Mr. Kerry criticized President Bush but were silent when he called for military strength. Check out the video clips at Media Matters; there was tumultuous cheering when Mr. Kerry talked about a strong America . . . .

On Thursday night, Mr. Kerry's speech was a palpable hit. A focus group organized by Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, found it impressive and persuasive. Even pro-Bush commentators conceded, at first, that it had gone over well.

But a terrorism alert is already blotting out memories of last week. Although there is now a long history of alerts with remarkably convenient political timing, and Tom Ridge politicized the announcement by using the occasion to praise "the president's leadership in the war against terror," this one may be based on real information. Regardless, it gives the usual suspects a breathing space; once calm returns, don't be surprised if some of those same commentators begin describing the ineffective speech they expected (and hoped) to see, not the one they actually saw.
"Based on real information"?!? -- Sap.

The notion of a consensus script is a useful one, but it lacks the explanatory power of a theory we heard advanced today by Zemblan patriot L.S.: that over the course of the last few years, most of America's television journalists have been outfitted with microchips mass-produced by Manchurian Global.

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