A wealth of propaganda offers classes in media literacy | A pragmatist’s opinion | Douglas Moran
By Douglas Moran
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About this blog: Real power does not rest with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what will be viable choices. I stumbled upon this realization as a teenager (1960s). As a PhD student, I belonged to an org … (More) About this blog: Real power does not lie with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what counts as workable decisions. I stumbled upon this realization as a teenager (1960s). As a graduate student, I belonged to an organization where people didn’t prepare for meetings and then spent 3-5 hours speculating and arguing about the facts, followed by 4-6 hours in subsequent meetings fixing these mistakes . When I became president, I was able to reduce meetings to one to three hours by spending long hours in preparation. My professional career has focused on developing computational tools to aid decision-making, including dealing with missing, ambiguous, and incorrect information. I moved to Palo Alto in 1983 and got involved in local affairs in the early 1990s by attending workshops and hearings on the master plan and neighborhood issues. Since then I have participated in several official citizens’ advisory groups. I served on the board of directors of the Barron Park Association from 1994 to 2013, including 6 years as president. The focus of this blog will be on asking questions and explaining perspectives, starting with mine as a resident, but encouraging others to share theirs. For “I’m right, you’re wrong,” go elsewhere. (Hide)
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Uploaded: Nov 12, 2020
“If you don’t read the paper, you are not informed; if you do, you are misinformed.” (^ unknown ^). Media coverage of the presidential election controversy has been very partisan and insincere. So, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of them!” For parents, these can provide examples to show their children the techniques used. They can play a game with family and friends “Who recognizes the most …”.
This blog is one of my occasional visits on the subject of media literacy – ie, deep skepticism about reporting – and the more general critical / close reading ability that comes with it. Although the topics in the sample articles are of current interest, those topics are irrelevant even here. I encourage you to pre-process statements based on word choice and grammar before investing mental energy on their logic, consistency, and credibility of the alleged facts.
Note: This blog is not intended to be factual reporting, but to represent interests, and so I am allowed to use various rhetorical practices to try to convince.
A good place to start is the New York Times “^ The Times Phoned Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Election Fraud ^” (2020-11-10) (^ Archive – 5 updates already ^). It provides several examples of partisan wordsmiths.
In traditional news articles, the beginning offered a quick overview, and the reader got more detail by reading below, with the expectation that most readers would not be as interested and stop well before that. It has been increasingly perverted that the endorsement of the publication is at the forefront, while the middle and the end provide opposing, even contradicting information that the publisher can point out if accused of deception or even defamation in the early statements.
This NYT example is unusual in that the switch from reinforcing their endorsement to opposing them occurs in the middle of the subheading: “The president and his allies have groundlessly alleged that rampant electoral fraud stole his victory. Officials contacted by the Times said there were no irregularities that occurred affected the result.” (Emphasis added). The body goes on to make statements that contradict the headline.
I picked this NYT article as a starting point not just because it has many easy-to-see examples, but because there is a good video out there talking about it – for those who prefer to listen than read. It is from a Canadian attorney who used his legal writing and reading skills for this article. I would classify it as politically non-partisan, except that I know that there are people who classify anything that does not support their partisan positions as partisan against them. This video is “^ New York Time denies election fraud? Viva Frei Vlawg ^” – (2020-11-11) (13 minutes).
Corresponding comments Contain references to other illustrative examples that provide appropriate analysis of the manipulation performed. Or closely related observations, analyzes, etc. Comments on the subject of the examples discussed are however not on the subject and will be deleted.
A ^ short index by topic and chronological ^ is available.
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