|Propaganda versus understanding
||[May. 9th, 2012|10:34 am]
In a recent post, a friend of mine took on the topic:|
What's Partisan Propaganda, What's Not
I think it would be interesting to analyze this, and the causes (imho) of the issues. So while I'm stuck not working (a ceiling fan is being installed in my office), let's look at the underlying issues.
He put forth a set of nine points based directly on this article from the "Canada Free Press". One of his the points was:
5. Record High Poverty. During a so-called recovery, poverty was the highest since 1993. As quoted in the article I linked to, "This is one more piece of bad news on the economy,” said Ron Haskins, of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. “This will be another cross to bear by the administration.” To call the Brookings institution conservative is ridiculous; they're centrist to liberal leaning.
This point is based on this excerpt from a New York Times article:
The percent of Americans living in poverty last year, 15.1%, was highest since 1993. Minorities were hit hardest. Blacks experienced the highest increase, at 27%, up from 25% in 2009, and Hispanics rose to 26% from 25%. “This is one more piece of bad news on the economy,” said Ron Haskins, of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. “This will be another cross to bear by the administration.”The first thing to note here is that the only commentary added by my friend comes in the form of unsupported editorials. He characterizes the recovery as "so-called", then he fells a straw-man saying that the Brookings institution is not conservative, but "centrist to left leaning". These statements do not analyze the facts or the context. Nor do they make any attempt to determine whether or not the data is being used for partisan propaganda. What they do rather is reinforce a partisan viewpoint of both my friend and the referred source. Putting aside the fact that no credible analysis was done to determine propaganda, let's turn to the excerpt itself and see if we can make the determination ourselves:
Question: Is the excerpt representative of the NYT article, or is the "Canada Free Press" cherry-picking to promote it's conservative agenda?
A careful reading of the excerpt and the article indicates that the "Canada Free Press" did not in fact quote the NYT, but instead took three separate quotes and stitched them together. In doing so, they chose to emphasize three points:
Reviewing the NYT article, here are the points that were not covered:
- poverty levels
- minority poverty
- election comentary
The broad thesis of the article is that the US is an extended period of economic stagnation that began in the late 1990. And that the economic malaise has primarily affected the lower and middle classes.
- 15 year wage stagnation
- the lost decade
- no recovery for the poor
- growing income inequality
- falling wages
- very high child poverty
- rising uninsured
It's difficult to know exactly why the "Canada Free Press" chose to highlight poverty, minorities, and election commentary over the main thesis of the article. But when an organization picks and chooses factoids while ignoring the main thesis of a source, it's usually an indication that they are trying to reframe the content to suit their own purposes. Reviewing the thesis of the "Canada Free Press" article, we see that they are trying to answer the question "Now the question is, what does Barack’s “change” resemble?, with a lead image showing Obama with a letter "F" superimposed over him. Their thesis is that Obama is a failure, and they are using the NYT article as evidence of this failure. Given that the NYT article does not address this issue in any way, it's clear that the "Canada Free Press" is trying to make conclusions of it's own. Is the author, Kelly O'Connell qualified to make these sort of economic inferences? As a Lawyer and a talk show host, the answer is certainly not. The choice of highlighting minority performance is a curious one, and almost certainly intentional. As best I can tell, what we have here is a misuse of a source for the purposes of casting the president in a negative light.
So well how did my friend do in sussing out "what is partisan propaganda, and what is not?" through the use of analysis, looking at the underlying issues?
You can be the judge.