Is the Media Destroying Politics?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tolstoy and Media Bias

As Alex Luxenberg quoted in his media bias presentation, Leo Tolstoy once said, "The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him." 

Since Alex made this quote in reference to the 2008 financial crisis, it reminded me of when I was watching the documentary Inside Job, which is about the 2008 crisis. I was watching the film assuming everything to be true since I had no real knowledge of the financial world or what caused the crisis, and my dad came into the room and watched for a little bit with me and kept complaining that the things they were saying were completely biased, and sometimes even untrue. It was my lack of knowledge about the financial world that allowed me to believe everything they said in the film, and not see the bias which was there.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Was Obama Really Born in Hawaii?

YES! Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is for some reason still hooked on the idea that President Obama was not born in Hawaii and is therefore not eligible to be President.  As many people have claimed including the State of Hawaii, that Obama's birth certificate which was presented was valid but this is not enough for "The Donald." He has researchers in Hawaii who claim to have found some stuff which we wouldn't believe.  On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jon mocked this absurd stunt, but what disturbed me the most was, as Jon reported, that his focus on this has not hurt him in the polls.  Is there something to this theory, do people actually believe Trump?  Until the information, which "we wouldn't believe" is released I don't see it helping Trump or hurting Obama in any significant way.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Was WikiLeaks to Blame for the Upheaval in the Mid-East?

In a lecture on the current state of affairs in the Middle East David Sanger the NY Times Chief Washington Correspondent, made a claim, that one of the reasons for the chaos which began in Tunisia, was started because of information about the lifestyles of the leaders which was leaked on WikiLeaks, and it was the embarrassment of the entire world knowing this which led to the revolution.  Is it really possible that WikiLeaks was actually able to on a somewhat direct level cause so much change?  We will see, as time goes on what, if any, other significant events unfold in response to the information exposed by WikiLeaks.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How Do we Learn the Issues?

During Wednesday's class activity, when discussing the different strategies for a Presidential campaign, something hit me.  I wasn't sure what the best way to publicize one's politics.  When discussing new media, my group focused on a youtube page, a facebook page, a twitter account, and a personal website.  It seemed that we used the facebook, and twitter accounts, more for personal things than the expression of political ideas.  We used youtube and the personal website to express the more political side of the candidate.  I began to think, are the youtube page and website really the best ways to promote the political side of a candidate?  I assume that a candidate's politics are about as important as their image, and if this is true, shouldn't there be equal promotion of the candidate's political image and their personal image?  If this is true, then shouldn't they be broadcast on the same venues?  A possible explanation for the different types of media being used for different aspects of a campaign, is the people being targeted with each type of media.  It could be that the politicians feel that those who use facebook and twitter are more focused on the personal image of the candidate, and those who look at the youtube page, and the personal website are more concerned with the politics of the candidate.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Guess Bad is the New Good

On my blog, there appeared an ad for a media group, McCleskey Media, who I guess produce political ads.  On the main page, there are slides of the different advertising awards they won for different political ads.  I figured, if these ads are so good maybe I should check them out.  I clicked on the "Our Work" tab on the top of the page, and of the first seven ads I picked to watch six, were negative ads.  I'm guessing I didn't pick the only six negative ads on the page.  If these are the ads which are winning awards and elections, I guess going negative is the way to go. Do I think negative ads are better or worse than "content-free" ads, I'm honestly not sure, which by itself says something.  It should be obvious that negative ads are worse than anything positive but, they the "content-free" ads are so useless that it may actually be a tossup between the two.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What do TV Ads Do?

What is the real point of a political TV ad?  When it comes to products or services, the main purpose of an ad is to create brand recognition.  Is that true too by politics?  Is the point of TV ads for politicians just to get their name out there so people recognize it, and not to explain the ideas which the politician stands for?  If this were true then the popular "content-free" ads should be the perfect ads, because they are simple and they give the politician a recognizable, positive image to the politician.  If this were true then, in my humble opinion, negative ads would not be as popular.  I think the reason negative ads are so popular in politics and unpopular in any other sort of market, is because the aim of political advertising is different than regular advertising.  I think the point of political advertising is to create the believe in the minds of the viewers that the candidate featured in the ad, is the best person for the job.  It is not like when one is shopping and you decide to buy the brand you know.  People go to vote with the intent to vote for a certain candidate, so the aim of political ads is to create the belief that this candidate is the best, or in the case of a negative ad, the worst person for the job.  I think this is why there is so much negative advertising in politics and so little in regular market advertising.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You Gotta Watch What You Say Around Those Smart Kids

The spokesman for the State Department, Phillip Crowley, resigned on Sunday after remarks he made to a group of students at MIT.  He publicly criticized the treatment of PFC Manning, who was responsible for the leak of secret documents to Wikileaks.  After having been the administration's spokesman on the Wikileaks issue, Crowley comes out against his treatment by the DoD.  Interestingly enough, he did not recant his statement at any point.  I guess it makes sense that after his resignation there is no reason to try and hide his feelings, but why not recant and try and save his job?  It seemed that he was on his way out anyway, having been distant from Secretary of State Clinton, and having had a new deputy, who, many believed was soon to replace Crowley.  I guess that happened sooner than expected.  It was clear from another statement that he did not disagree with the imprisonment of PFC Manning, but only with his treatment.  I think it might be possible that since he saw himself as on the way out, he may have wanted to go out with a bang, but thats just my opinion and is based on no evidence.

The lesson seems to be, that when in a powerful position, one always needs to watch what they say.