Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

a media case study: Yahoo! News

Clearly, Yahoo! News is not the best source of information on current events.  Yet there are millions of people whose only exposure to “news” is in the form of the Yahoo! headlines that greet them every time they log into their email account.  And since the majority of Yahoo! News stories are from the AP, it is safe to assume that the issues and articles presented there are representative of the MSM’s coverage of the topics deemed acceptable for the day.  And it is fairly absurd what passes for news at Yahoo! and that bastion of modern, ethical journalism, the Associated Press.

Every once in a while, something especially ludicrous catches my eye, such as this screen-grab from my Yahoo! Mail account earlier today:

Where can I even begin with this?  It presents itself formally enough that most Americans would assume the information comes from an authoritative source.  Visually, it appears plain and unimposing, suggesting impartiality to a casual observer.  But on closer examination, the media’s dual role of selecting issues and framing the range of accept debate becomes readily apparent.

The problems start with the headline itself, which is rife with suppositions that simply have no basis in fact:  “New Reality:  Obama, GOP talk compromise, conflict.”  Now, this headline takes for granted a number of things which any knowledgeable person would recognize as patently false.  First of all, the article is implying that Obama has, up to this point in his presidency, refused to cooperate with the Republicans, that his entire term thus far has been consisted of him ramming his agenda through the legislative without any regard for Republicans and their concerns.

This is a popular myth propagated by our media – that Obama is an extreme leftist who refuses to reach across the aisle.  In reality, Obama has wasted a large portion of his first two years in office attempting to reach out to Republicans, who in turn have repeatedly slapped him down.  Obama missed myriad opportunities during these first two years due to his dogged insistence on including Republicans, in spite of their continuous refusal to support or endorse a single proposal Obama made.  So Obama attempting to compromise is hardly a “new reality.”

The second ungrounded assumption in this headline is the implied notion that Republicans are willing to compromise at all.  As we all know by now, however, Republicans have absolutely no interest in cooperating; many of them were elected on the promise of simply rejecting anything Obama presents, with the additional goal of overturning what pitiful progress the Obama administration has so far managed to make.  It is not for nothing that Republicans have earned the name “the party of no.”

The brief description under the headline continues under the same suppositions taken for granted in the headline, and a casual observer couldn’t help but be duped into accepting this distorted view of reality.  Of the remaining five headlines, at least three could be viewed as having hidden motives:   the first reinforcing the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve; the third arguing that the “change” voters sought in 2008 will finally be brought in the form of a massive shift to the right; and the fourth referring to an alleged attempted terrorist attack, reviving the specter of our ongoing – and imaginary – “War on Terror.”

So what we have here is a media outlet – the AP via Yahoo! News – highlighting the important issues of the day, and quite cleverly defining the parameters of acceptable debate.  One wonders what Yahoo!’s underlying motive is in reinforcing the heavily distorted world view presented by the AP and other mainstream media outlets – most likely, it’s simply laziness.

Anyone familiar with the work of Chomsky will recognize my allusions to the propaganda model of the media that Chomsky and Edward Herman back in 1988.  Indeed, I think the model perfectly describes the way our media operates today.  Namely, the media reflects the range of opinion within the business community only.  So, for example, if a MSM outlet allows mention of declining support for the Iraq War, it means there are some elements within the corporate elite who wish to withdraw from the war for their own financially-motivated reasons.  There is no conspiracy at work here, but rather a finely-tuned system of self-indoctrination that prevents those with heretical views from succeeding in the field of journalism.  This is why we never see leftist bloggers enter the mainstream:  their views, however accurate, are simply unwelcome in our self-censoring mainstream media.

And until reality-based news outlets are able to challenge the MSM in size and scope, America will be doomed to continue our steady pendulous swing to the depths of the fanatical far right.

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One response to “a media case study: Yahoo! News

  1. Pingback: An Examination of Modern Propaganda: WH Warns Tax Defeat Could Trigger New Recession « Failed Empire

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