Sunday, April 06, 2008

Open news, insert frame

The more I pay attention, it seems like the more I notice that media narratives are always forced into a particular frame. Any science story about computers involves artificial intelligence or how many times the Library of Congress would fit in a new storage device. People that go missing are almost always female, white, young, and attractive. Really, when was the last time a media cycle fixated on a missing African-American woman?

Politics is especially bad. Lately we've heard tons about Obama's un-American preacher and Hillary's Bosnian misremberances. Really, could you tell me how John Edwards's health care policy would differ from anyone else's. I bet, however, you could tell me how much he paid for the famous haircut.

And it's still happening. Glenn Greenwald points out:

One other point to note about all of this is that these fixations are as skewed as they are vapid. Barack Obama is an exotic elitist freak because he went to Harvard Law School and made $1 million from his book. Hillary Clinton can't possibly have any connection to the Regular Folk because her husband, who grew up dirt poor, became quite wealthy after being President. John Kerry was completely removed from the concerns of the Regular People because his second wife was rich.

By contrast, George W. Bush was a down-home, salt-of-the-earth Man of the People despite being the grandson of a U.S. Senator, the son of a President (who greatly magnified his riches in his post-presidency), and the by-product of an extremely wealthy, coddled life. Ronald Reagan was pure Americana despite spending most of his adult life as a very wealthy Hollywood actor (and converting his post-presidency into far greater riches still). And John McCain is as Regular a Guy as it gets, even though he dumped his first wife (the mother of his three children) after she was disfigured and disabled by a near-fatal car accident so that he could marry his much younger, much prettier, and extremely wealthy heiress-mistress, whose family riches then launched his political career and sustained a life of luxury for almost three decades (that's how McCain's rustic "Sedona cabin" -- i.e., his sprawling compound -- came to be).

It would be bad enough if our political press were obsessed with such trivialities. The fact that they do so in such a Republican-leader-worshiping manner makes it only that much worse, particularly given that it's this dynamic, more than anything else, that determines the outcome of our elections.

I imagine nothing is going to change about this any time soon. The Republican candidate will always be a cowboy "man of the people" while the Democrat will be a latte-drinking, elitist Frenchman.


David said...

I didn't know Frenchmen could run for President. Is Obama really French?

Narc said...

I'm sure once he officially gets the Dem nomination, the Republicans will paint him as morally French. He probably even drinks Chardonnay and eats Brie while cheering on Iraqi insurgents.

Notice, for example, the significant coverage his poor bowling got last week. He's clearly not a "man of the people."