Media Create the News -- Then Report It

Bruce Thornton has a good article at about journalists who raise a fuss and then ask people what they think of the fuss they've created.

Imagine that you started receiving letters in the mail accusing your neighbor of being a child molester. Occasionally you receive photographs or even a video showing the neighbor with a child on his lap or dressed up like a clown at a children`s party. After a couple of weeks of this, someone then phones you to ask if you think your neighbor is a pedophile. What percentage of us do you think would say yes?

There you have one of the media`s favorite devices for disguising opinion as news, one on display in the coverage of the disaster in New Orleans. At the very height of the disaster reporters solicited opinions from people about what was happening and why, and unsurprisingly, the majority of poor black people asked said Bush and the federal government were to blame, a perception echoed by Democrats and black politicians for obvious partisan reasons.

These perceptions of reality were then reported day after day, and not long after there followed the “scientific” poll to solicit even more perceptions based on the earlier perceptions publicized by the media. The result is then reported as news, and thus through the magic of media alchemy subjective perceptions become facts in the minds of many.

Of course, as Brent Baker reported last month, the evacuees themselves, immune from media spin (unable to watch TV), blamed the local government, not Bush.

Hurricane Katrina