Press and Republican Media Framing

John Kennedy-1960

John Kennedy-1960

One of the clear signs that the press continues to accept Republican framing of the Democratic Convention is the notion of great risks involved in having Obama’s acceptance speech in Mile High Stadium in front of 75,000 people. One would think that after weeks of putting forth specious stories about the great Clinton-Obama feud–all of which turned out to be completely wrong–that the easy acceptance of the meme about the dangers of Barack being seen as “too popular” might disappear. But no. The New York Times top political story is “Democrats Try to Minimize Stadium Risks”.

When John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech in 1960 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of 70,000 screaming partisans, did anyone question whether it was a smart move to show how enthusiastic young people were about the Democratic candidate?

I know the media want to keep us tuned in, but this blind acceptance of the Republican attack machine’s framing of Obama’s charisma is just utter, passive nonsense.

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0 Responses to Press and Republican Media Framing

  1. Alex Bowles says:

    I don’t think ‘rock star’, in the contemporary sense, was a phrase that had been coined in 1960. Images of an arena full of young people didn’t have quite the same meaning as they do now, some 50 years later.

    Today (last night, actually) you could put a natural like Bill in what’s become the standard rock star context, without people necessarily making the connection. Too much silver hair, perhaps, along with the kind of energy that would be right at home in a mega-church. With this guy up on stage, people may forget that this is also the room Bon Jovi plays.

    But when Obama walks on stage, grabs the mic with the swagger of Jay-Z, then talks about Hillary rocking the house, all of a sudden the associations shift. He’s not just a star, he’s a superstar, and you’re almost expecting to hear some massive beat.

    This may become the face of politics in the 21st century, and the standard way of demonstrating widespread acceptance. But I understand how people who will live the majority of their lives in the 20th Century could find it all very unsettling.

    The same words are taking on new meaning, and not everybody is in on the change. It’s a very fine line…

  2. BobbyG says:

    Interesting.

    I was just reading a news article detailing all of these putative “worries.”

    Yeah, nothing Obama or the Dems ever do will ever be enough or “right.”

    Just like because last night Bill Clinton didn’t have a kidney transplanted to Obama right there on the stage, it’s a certain sign of the equivocation of The Big Dog’s support.

    Certain prediction for tomorrow: Cue the next poignant Krauthammer “Obama-Thinks-He’s-Hitler” screed.

  3. Jim says:

    You point out a sad and frustrating truth, but miss the next step. Yes, the mainstream media requires now a “narrative story line” each and every day of the campaign, from “Hillary is inevitable,” and “when will Hillary concede,” to “will Bill and Hillary really support their party’s nominee.” Remember all those? The cable news channels in particular feel obliged each day to have that day’s “story” and everything else is then interpreted against that angle. Papers like the Times feed directly into that, as you point out.

    But the next point, painful as it may be to accept, is that this merely makes clear how good the Republicans have gotten at seizing and dominating (read: manipulating) the daily news agenda. Your choice is simple: either one-up the Republicans by doing a better job of setting the daily narrative, or continue to sit on the sidelines complaining about the unfairness of it all. On which side of that divide do you want to cast your lot?

  4. thoughtbasket says:

    And ironic given the other meme about how the press gives Obama a free pass. It seems like the broader theme is the press swallowing spin instead of asking questions and pushing back against the spinmeisters. Interestingly, I just read that Jon Stewart had breakfast at the DNCC with 30 print journalists and called them out, forcefully, on this very topic.

    http://www.thoughtbasket.com

  5. Tom Wilmot says:

    In essence, the true problem with politics, as well as event understanding has been the inexorable “Dumbing Down” of the news – which now consists of cut lines that fit easily onto a crawl at the bottom of the screen, sound bites, photo ops and stories that can be contained in 3 or four paragraphs.

    In my opinion, this is why politics has become personalities rather than platforms, processes and policy. Anyone earnest enough in their beliefs that they will spend the time to truly present problem/solution structures in detail is considered “wonky” and politicians who present voters with inevitable sacrifices are considered poison.

    Regardless of stripe, most voters are woefully under-informed regarding the issues that face the country today, the complexity behind many of these problems and the severe changes necessary in how we live our lives, view the world and interact with each other in order to affect a turnaround from the direction we are headed.

    The fourth estate has done the nation a great disservice in the past 20 years and I for one am not sorry to see their profit lines falling like October’s leaves.

  6. Alex Bowles says:

    Are you talking about news, Tom, or television?

    They’re not exactly the same – not anymore.

  7. Tom Wilmot says:

    Alex – Both, actually. Newspapers have embraced the “USA Today” news nuggets model and newmagazines become more and more like “People Magazine” every week.

  8. Jason says:

    “When John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech in 1960 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of 70,000 screaming partisans, did anyone question whether it was a smart move to show how enthusiastic young people were about the Democratic candidate?”

    You probably meant it rhetorically, but this would be a good research project. How did the press cover JFK’s acceptance speech? I wish I had the research skills to answer it myself.

  9. Alex Bowles says:

    Newspapers are in even more trouble than TV these days.

    Guys like Jeff Zucker would be thrilled to ditch news altogether, if it didn’t mean loosing the fig leaf of ‘public interest’ that maintains their sweetheart deals with the FCC for bandwidth.

    I remember hearing somebody lace into Ted Turner for giving the UN $1,000,000,000 while selling CNN to T/W. The point made was that Ted could have endowed CNN basically forever, and created the first truly independent, global news organization. Instead, two opportunities were squandered in the place of one giant success.

    It’s a compelling idea, and just because Ted missed it doesn’t mean others can’t try. The internet has done a lot to lower the distribution costs of an arrangement like that, but the funding for the content side is, obviously, still not in place.

    But that’s a problem of concentration, and can be fixed over time – especially as the relevance and suitability of the existing outlets goes off a cliff, and the capacity of micro funding becomes clear (Exhibit A: Obama ’08)

    The folks at Pro Publica have made a very interesting start.

    (http://www.propublica.org/about/)

  10. commonsguy says:

    @Jim:

    “Your choice is simple: either one-up the Republicans by doing a better job of setting the daily narrative, or continue to sit on the sidelines complaining about the unfairness of it all. On which side of that divide do you want to cast your lot?”

    Yet, like the media, you chose to portray this as a two-side, either-or situation.

    How about options like, say, blowing up the power of legacy media and the commensurate ability for any one segment to “set the daily narrative” via a continued migration to the million-channel Web?

    Or, say, giving the people an easier way to express their opinions, individually and in the aggregate, to increase the incentives for people to get past the shallow “daily narrative” of legacy media, thereby reducing the effectiveness of that narrative?

    Few things in this world are cut-and-dried either-or scenarios. After all, even a coin flip sometimes has land-on-edge-and-roll-under-the-fridge or that-stupid-dog-ate-the-quarter-again-Mabel as outcomes…

  11. len says:

    “How about options like, say, blowing up the power of legacy media and the commensurate ability for any one segment to “set the daily narrative” via a continued migration to the million-channel Web?”

    Put voting machines on Facebook.

  12. bernard says:

    Its the same in South and central America , most of the media is in conservative hands.

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