I did a post last month called “More Media Crap,” before I was given the “Coordinated Rovian Attack Plan” (CRAP) acronym (thanks again, Roger Fulton). So now I must capitalize the word in this context.
Here’s a dangerous misconception for Dems: that the Bush-fawning media will stop peddling false pro-right and anti-left narratives. The latest installment is from the AP – dubbed by some the ‘Associated Presstitutes’ – with an inexplicable piece pitting Cindy Sheehan against a man who lost his son in Iraq: “A soft-spoken suburban real-estate broker, John Prazynski didn’t consider himself political and never expected to become a public figure, much less a pro-war activist. But in the year since his son Taylor, a Marine, died in Iraq, Prazynski has devoted much of his time to supporting the troops through fundraisers, two trips to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and interviews backing the war effort.” [emphasis added]
The article continues along the ‘war opponents bad’, ‘Bush supporters good’ tack, with this gem of a Bush-propping paragraph: “On opening day of the baseball season in Cincinnati, he joined President Bush and two wounded soldiers on the field in pregame ceremonies. Prazynski said he wanted to thank Bush for his support “and give him two thumbs up with his positive stance on security, military and veterans’ issues.” The former Air Force tech school instructor shares the pain – but not the viewpoint – of Cindy Sheehan, who became a high-profile war protester after her son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004.
So there you have it: Prazynski “supports the troops” by “backing the war effort” and giving Bush “two thumbs up.” Cindy Sheehan, on the other hand, is described in the piece as having an “agenda. Back in January, I wrote a piece distinguishing between stories and storylines: “You’ve heard the narratives: Bush is likable, Bush is a regular guy, Bush is firm, Bush is a religious man, Bush relishes a fight, Democrats are muddled, Democrats have no message, national security is Bush’s strength, terror attacks and terror threats help Bush (even though he presided over the worst attack ever on American soil), Democrats are weak on security, Democrats need to learn how to talk about values, Republicans favor a “strict interpretation” of the Constitution, and on and on.
A single storyline is more effective than a thousand stories. And a single storyline delivered by a “neutral” reporter is a hundred times more dangerous than a storyline delivered by an avowed partisan. Rightwingers can attack the media for criticizing Bush, can slam the New York Times for being liberal, but when the Times and the Post and CNN and MSNBC echo the ‘Bush stands firm’ mantra, it adds one more brick to a powerful pro-Bush edifice.
“These narratives are woven so deeply into the fabric of news coverage that they have become second nature and have permeated the public psyche and are regurgitated in polls. (The polls are then used to strengthen the narratives.) They are delivered as affirmative statements, interrogatives, hypotheticals; they are discussed as fact and accepted as conventional wisdom; they are twisted, turned, shaped, reshaped, and fed to the American public in millions of little soundbites, captions, articles, editorials, news stories, and opinion pieces. They are inserted into the national dialogue as contagious memes that imprint the idea of Bush=strong/Dems=weak. And they are false.
Once again, the AP does the right’s bidding by delivering a pro-Bush storyline in a seemingly innocuous piece about a grieving father.
As we approach the ’06 and ’08 elections, you can expect much more of the same from the press. Those who are lulled by Bush’s Nixonian poll numbers are in for a rude awakening.”-Peter Daou.