Media and Politics Introduction This presentation is in no way a complete analysis of the subject, however, it aims to give a quick look at the complex relationship between the media and politics through concrete examples of their current or past interaction. Both the media and politicians alike manipulate each other in order to gain influence and further their personal interests. Although politicians have been chosen to represent a certain people, media has found a way to help sway the beliefs of their followers, now in a more explicit fashion than when it was first coined to be the “fourth power of democracy” around the 1960s and 1970s.
So, both are very powerful but do they only influence people or do they also influence each other? First, we define the two components of this relationship, however basic but nonetheless important. Next, we describe how politicians take advantage of the media and how the situation can be reversed, showing that, in the end, one can swing more weight than the other. I. Definitions Here are the definitions of the two components of this binary relationship: 1. Politician: “a person experienced in the art or science of government; especially : one actively engaged in
Countries in red: Russia, China, Mexico ? Countries in black: Libya, Somalia, Iran (theocracy), Saudi Arabia, North Korea II. The Media as a Tool for Politicians ? The media first can be used as a propaganda tool by politicians. A good example to drive this home is the case of North Korea. For the first time in 30 years, Kim ? ? ? Jong-il invited journalists from all over the world to cover the announcement of his successor, his son, to presidency. It shows how journalists can be manipulated by a politician just for the sake of putting on a show for his son and soon-to-be president.
The media jumped on this rare opportunity to cover the event because the head-of-state usually forbids this kind of publicity. A 1939 cover of Time magazine shows a picture of Adolf Hitler along with a striking headline “Man of the Year”. He was portrayed as being a relaxed and natural man and it allowed people to think that he was not all that bad, which is completely criminal considering that at the time, people already knew he was a monster and they knew of what he was capable (e. g. he Munich Conference had already taken place, and concentration camps had been established). Politicians can also use the media as a means to gain popularity and eventually obtain more votes and bids in favor of them. A good example is the current American president Barack Obama, who was elected as president thanks to overwhelming coverage by the media because it developed into a kind of star power or celebrity status. In fact, all components of mass media (newspaper, magazine, television, Internet) were used and it kind of crowned Obama even before he was elected.
This was also due in part to the coverage of the opposing candidate’s Vice Presidential nomination, Sarah Palin, whose message was often too strong or radical for the general public to accept. When thinking about it, it is unfortunate that candidates now focus a lot on their campaigns (i. e. bashing) rather than on their actual policies. An example in recent news is that Chilean president (Sebastiao Pinera) has been using mass media to cover what happened to the Chilean miners in order to divide the attention from the broiling social issues that have been facing the government.
Politicians are not the only ones who can manipulate; the media can also do it. III. Politicians as a Target of the Media ? ? ? Scandal as a political weapon. The media does not put themselves in a good position to deal with politicians or political institutions that they are clearly attacking, nor do they care because scandal sells at the end of the day. The media is so powerful that it can even disrupt a government. For example, Gordon Brown and other prime ministers’ abusive spending of government expense accounts.
The media likes to show corrupt politicians, as we saw in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, but they themselves become corrupt when they modify or overexaggerate information with which they are provided. Presidential scandal. Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinski affair. The media was all over this for months on end. Thinking of the case of Francois Mitterand in France, however, with the information about his illegitimate daughter, did not lead to major scandal. This shows the disparity perhaps of the American and French press.
The media produce whatever image they want of politicians. Possibilities range from Time’s coverage of Hitler to the present depiction of Nicolas Sarkozy. “Sarkozy, ‘The Thug’” shows how strongly they oppose the French president, his policies, other miscellaneous details about his life. In this way it shows that the media, or to be more precise here, the press, limits how strongly ? they can attack their president. Does he really fit into this category that they call “thug”?
They can be opposed to what he’s been doing, however, it seems that the press is being abusive by calling him a thug and creating negative connotations against the president. That being said, the public may realize this information has no basis, so it is a risk for the press to do so. This shows the limits of the media and what is important to point out is how those increasingly abusive and influential media can lead to dramatic results. Abusive media. As an example, the case of Roger Salangro: the French minister of Popular Front committed suicide in 1936 because the media was constantly criticizing his actions.
Just before he committed suicide, he encountered a man in the street who recognized him and spat right in his face. Conclusion Although politicians sometimes try to manipulate the media, it seems that the media still tends to have a heavier impact on decision making among the public. “Once a politician, always a politician,” rings true to politicians today: presenting people with their bigger, better policies and trying to finally realize them in order to appease their constituents. Regarding the many varieties of media, it is mpossible not to be confronted with the influence they have in our daily lives and no matter how hard we try, that influence persists. They have an ambiguous relationship with the media: it can either be particularly advantageous (e. g. Hitler) or it can be a relationship of stark opposition, even of constant bickering. As it was coined and invented by Jean-Francois Kahn, the three L’s represent well the media-political relationship “leche-lache-lynche” to qualify how politicians are treated by the media: they are first adored, then dropped, and finally lynched.
In summary, politicians will eventually end up being totally strung up by the media and as politicians are supposed to represent the people, they are more often than not misrepresented by the press, good or bad. The media works within a certain capacity of influence but the power they have gained over numerous years reinforces even more their status in our world. “The people will believe what the media tells them they believe. ” – George Orwell (show quote + cartoon pic). The press has scoffed at religion till it has made scoffing popular.
It has defended official criminals, on party pretexts, until it has created a United States Senate whose members are incapable of determining what crime against law and the dignity of their own body is–they are so morally blind–and it has made light of dishonesty till we have as a result a Congress which contracts to work for a certain sum and then deliberately steals additional wages out of the public pocket and is pained and surprised that anybody should worry about a little thing like that.
I am putting all this odious state of things upon the newspaper, and I believe it belongs there–chiefly, at any rate. It is a free press–a press that is more than free–a pres which is licensed to say any infamous thing it choose about a private or a public man or advocate any outrageous doctrine it pleases. It is tied in no way. The public opinion which should hold it in bounds it has itself degraded to its own level. There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press.
A libel suit simply brings the plaintiff before a vast newspaper court to be tried before the law tries him, and reviled and ridiculed without mercy…. It seems to me that just in the ratio that our newspapers increase, our morals decay. The more newspapers the worse morals. Where we have one newspaper that does good, I think we have fifty that do harm. We ought to look upon the establishment of a newspaper of the average pattern in a virtuous village as a calamity. The difference between the tone and conduct of newspapers today and hose of thirty or forty years ago is very noteworthy and very sad–I mean the average newspaper (for they had bad ones then, too). In those day the average newspaper was the champion of right an morals, and it dealt conscientiously in the truth. It is not the case now. The other day a reputable New York daily had an editorial defending the salary steal and justifying it on the grounds that congressmen were not paid enough–as if that were an all-sufficient excuse for stealing. That editorial put the matter in a new and perfectly satisfactory light with many a leather-headed reader, without a doubt.
It has become a sarcastic proverb that a thing must be true if you saw it in a newspaper. That is the opinion intelligent people have of that lying vehicle in a nutshell. But the trouble is that the stupid people–who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations–do believe and are molded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies. Among us, the newspaper is a tremendous power. It can make or mar any man’s reputation. It has perfect freedom to call the best man in the land a fraud and a thief, and he is destroyed beyond help….
In the Foster murder case the New York papers made a weak pretense of upholding the hands of the governor and urging the people to sustain him in standing firmly by the law; but they printed a whole page of sickly, maudlin appeals to his clemency as a paid advertisement. And I suppose they would have published enough pages of abuse of the governor to destroy his efficiency as a public official to the end of his term if anybody had come forward and paid them for it–as an advertisement. The newspaper that obstructs the law on a trivial pretext, for money’s sake, is a dangerous enemy to the public weal.
That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse. I am personally acquainted with hundreds of journalists, and the opinion of the majority of them would not be worth tuppence in private, but when they speak in print it is the newspaper that is talking (the pygmy scribe is not visible) and then their utterances shake the community like the thunders of prophecy…. The license of the press has scorched every individual of us in our time, I make no doubt.
Poor Stanley was a very god in England, his praises in every man’s mouth. But nobody said anything about his lectures–they were charitably quiet on that head and were content to praise his higher virtues. But our papers tore the poor creature limb from limb and scattered the fragments from Maine to California–merely beause he couldn’t lecture well. His prodigious achievement in Africa goes for naught–the man is pulled down and utterly destroyed–but still the persecution follows him as relentlessly from city to city and from village to village as if he had committed some bloody and detestable crime.
Bret Harte was suddenly snatched out of obscurity by our papers and throned in the clouds–all the editors in the land stood out in the inclement weather and adored him through their telescopes and swung their hats till they wore them out and then borrowed more; and the first time his family fell sick, and in his trouble and harassment he ground out a rather flat article,… that hurrahing host said, “Why, this man’s a fraud,” and then they began to reach up there for him.
And they got him, too, and fetched him down , and walked over him, and rolled him in the mud, and tarred and feather him, and then set him up for a target and have been heaving dirt at him ever since. The result is that the man has had only just nineteen engagement to lecture this year, and the audience have been so scattering, too, that he has never discharged a sentence yet that hit two people at the same time. The man is ruined–never can get up again…. In a town in Michigan I declined to dine with an editor who was drunk, and he said, in his paper, that my lecture was profane, indecent, and calculated to encourage intemperance.
And yet that man never heard it. it might have reformed him if he had. A Detroit paper once said that I was in the constant habit of beating my wife and that I still kept this recreation up, although I had crippled her for life and she was no longer able to keep out of my way when I came home in my usual frantic frame of mind. now scarcely the half of that was true. Perhaps I ought to have sued that man for libel–but I knew better. All the papers in America–with a few creditable exceptions–would have found out then, to their satisfaction, that I was a wife beater, and they would have given it a pretty general airing, too…
But I will not continue these remarks I have a sort of vague general idea that there is too much liberty of the press in this country, and that through the absence of all wholesome restraint the newspaper has become in a large degree a national curse, and will probably damn the republic yet. There are some excellent virtues in newspapers, some powers that wield vast influences for good; and I could have told all about these things, and glorified them exhaustively–but that would have left you gentlemen nothing to say. — Mark Twain, “The American Press” at the Monday Evening Club in Hartford, CT; 1873