2.26.2007

Defusing a Meme

A lot of people believe the enthymeme that CNN is "liberal" (people, at least during the Clinton administration, gave it the nickname the "Clinton News Network"--others have since dubbed it the "Conservative News Network"). A recent story on a documentary by James Cameron that claims to have found Jesus' remains is broken on CNN as a sort of disembodied denial. The headline reads Archaeologists, scholars dispute Jesus documentary. This wouldn't merit attention, sans the fact that they had not reported even the presence of a documentary. While I think Cameron is a latter day P.T. Barnum, this should serve to underline CNN's desired audience.

Hint: it ain't the skeptics.

2 comments:

DC said...

I can't figure out whether you're trying to use "proof by example" (for shame!), providing an example of the kind of evidence to watch for (bravo!), or if there's more information I've missed elsewhere (alas!).

I'll assume the best case.

Doc Mara said...

Yeah, this doesn't actually prove much. I have started to trace certain identity formations through new media cultural circuits. CNN has provided a particular location for some of these micro-analyses (once for an editorial on Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, penned by a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute). I'm teasing out how stories get introduced into particular stations, and hypothesizing what that might mean more generally. I noted how two particular discourses characterize CNN as slanted against their perspective ("conservative" and "progressive," respectively). These polarized discourse generators tend to try to brush what they call the MSM ("mainstream media," even though what they link to is ultimately online either as a news website, or as a truncated snippet of television).

So, in short, I'm not drawing a conclusion whole cloth, but rather noting how a "mainstream" media outlet is introducing the story, not by its claims, but by its detractors.

Huffingtonpost.com and Drudge did no such thing. Of course, they are both trying to piss people off.

And I'm focusing more on the technique rather than creating an unchanging and monolithic perspective on a particular assemblage of content (CNN, New York Times, Drudge, Fox news, etc.).

Kinda best case. Maybe shades of some judgment here too...