The Subtle Ways of “Journalism”

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The Subtle Ways of "Journalism"

There are many ways that you can make a sug­ges­tion in a story and cre­ate the meme you want to make in a per­sons mind.

A great lit­tle exam­ple of this took place in the cov­er­age of the pro-​forma vote for speaker in the new congress.

First lets look at the cov­er­age via The Hill

Ryan reelected Speaker in near-​unanimous GOP vote

Updated 1:50 p.m.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-​Wis.) on Tues­day won reelec­tion as Speaker of the House in a near-​unanimous GOP vote that reflected a uni­fied Repub­li­can party dead set on dis­man­tling the past eight years of the Obama administration.

Con­ser­v­a­tive Rep. Thomas Massie (R-​Ky.), a fre­quent thorn in leadership’s side, was the sole Repub­li­can to defect from Ryan. Massie cast his vote for Rep. Daniel Web­ster (R-​Fla.), who chal­lenged Ryan for the Speaker’s gavel in 2015 but not this year.

The final vote totals were 239 votes for Paul Ryan, 189 votes for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-​Calif.), two votes for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-​Ohio) and one vote each for Reps. Jim Cooper (D-​Tenn.), John Lewis (D-​Ga.) and Daniel Web­ster (R-​Fla.).

Pelosi loses four, Ryan one

Updated 1:44

Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi are both basi­cally win­ners today.

Ryan is the big­ger win­ner. While the Speaker cer­tainly would pre­fer to have not had a sin­gle defec­tion, los­ing just one vote is a huge vic­tory since just last year he lost nine votes in the House Speaker elec­tion from his own party.

Before Don­ald Trump’s win in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, mem­bers of Ryan’s own con­fer­ence were at least talk­ing about vot­ing against him. That talk com­pletely died down after the elec­tion, and only Rep. Thomas Massie cast a GOP bal­lot against Ryan on Tuesday.

Pelosi lost only four votes, which sug­gests that she retains an iron grip on her cau­cus — despite ter­ri­ble results in last year’s elec­tion for Democ­rats up and down the ballot.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-​Ohio) ran a rel­a­tively strong chal­lenge against Pelosi in the inter­nal Demo­c­ra­tic cau­cus vote last year, but it appeared most Democ­rats wanted to rally around their long­time leader in Tuesday’s vote.

Who what when where how. Basic strait for­ward facts. Report­ing as it should be.

Now let’s con­trast that with how the Wash­ing­ton Post tells the same story.

Law­mak­ers reelected Paul D. Ryan as House speaker Tues­day, choos­ing the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can with a fraught his­tory with President-​elect Don­ald Trump to serve as Trump’s chief leg­isla­tive partner.

Ryan won the sup­port of all but one Repub­li­can, win­ning with many fewer GOP defec­tors than when he first won the speak­er­ship in 2015. The vast major­ity of Democ­rats voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-​Calif.), who was reelected as party leader last year despite an abortive effort among some col­leagues to oust her after November’s dis­ap­point­ing elec­tion results.

But the 24 hours pre­ced­ing the vote showed that unity can be fleet­ing: His reelec­tion came less than two hours after Repub­li­cans held an emer­gency meet­ing to reverse pro­posed changes that would roll back the author­ity of the inde­pen­dent Office of Con­gres­sional Ethics. Ryan opposed those changes ahead of a Mon­day night con­fer­ence meet­ing, but law­mak­ers voted for them any­way — then agreed to reverse course Tues­day after a pub­lic firestorm.

Notice the word­ing. Neg­a­tive. Ryan has a “fraught his­tory” the “unity can be fleet­ing”, law­mak­ers despite Ryan’s oppo­si­tion “voted for them any­way.” Those who had opposed him were “defectors”

The take away? Paul Ryan may have won but he’s not sit­ting well with either his mem­bers or his pres­i­dent, he’s weak!

Now notice how the con­trast with Pelosi. the “Vast Major­ity” of Democ­rats voted for Pelosi. A pos­i­tive adjec­tive not not­ing that with a cau­cus with 47 less mem­bers she lost four times as many votes. (41 by vote for 2.1% defec­tions for her vs 0.5% for Ryan) The effort to oust her were “abortive”, The prob­lem “dis­ap­point­ing elec­tion results” not any­thing to do with her leadership.

Now if it’s in one story it’s not a big deal, but if you use this sub­tle word­ing in say 10 sto­ries a day, (the same word­ing is repeated in a later story at the post) every day then you plant the idea in the mind of the reader. Ryan weak, Pelosi strong, GOP divided, Dems united.

It’s all rather sub­tle but that’s what sell­ing a meme is all about.

And that’s how the MSM con­tin­ues to try to play you day after day, year after year, decade after decade, which is likely why you’re here.


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There are many ways that you can make a suggestion in a story and create the meme you want to make in a persons mind.

A great little example of this took place in the coverage of the pro-forma vote for speaker in the new congress.

First lets look at the coverage via The Hill

Ryan reelected Speaker in near-unanimous GOP vote

Updated 1:50 p.m.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday won reelection as Speaker of the House in a near-unanimous GOP vote that reflected a unified Republican party dead set on dismantling the past eight years of the Obama administration.

Conservative Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a frequent thorn in leadership’s side, was the sole Republican to defect from Ryan. Massie cast his vote for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who challenged Ryan for the Speaker’s gavel in 2015 but not this year.

The final vote totals were 239 votes for Paul Ryan, 189 votes for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), two votes for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and one vote each for Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.).

Pelosi loses four, Ryan one

Updated 1:44

Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi are both basically winners today.

Ryan is the bigger winner. While the Speaker certainly would prefer to have not had a single defection, losing just one vote is a huge victory since just last year he lost nine votes in the House Speaker election from his own party.

Before Donald Trump‘s win in the presidential election, members of Ryan’s own conference were at least talking about voting against him. That talk completely died down after the election, and only Rep. Thomas Massie cast a GOP ballot against Ryan on Tuesday.

Pelosi lost only four votes, which suggests that she retains an iron grip on her caucus — despite terrible results in last year’s election for Democrats up and down the ballot. 

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) ran a relatively strong challenge against Pelosi in the internal Democratic caucus vote last year, but it appeared most Democrats wanted to rally around their longtime leader in Tuesday’s vote. 

Who what when where how.  Basic strait forward facts. Reporting as it should be.

Now let’s contrast that with how the Washington Post tells the same story.

Lawmakers reelected Paul D. Ryan as House speaker Tuesday, choosing the Wisconsin Republican with a fraught history with President-elect Donald Trump to serve as Trump’s chief legislative partner.

Ryan won the support of all but one Republican, winning with many fewer GOP defectors than when he first won the speakership in 2015. The vast majority of Democrats voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was reelected as party leader last year despite an abortive effort among some colleagues to oust her after November’s disappointing election results.

But the 24 hours preceding the vote showed that unity can be fleeting: His reelection came less than two hours after Republicans held an emergency meeting to reverse proposed changes that would roll back the authority of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Ryan opposed those changes ahead of a Monday night conference meeting, but lawmakers voted for them anyway — then agreed to reverse course Tuesday after a public firestorm.

Notice the wording. Negative. Ryan has a “fraught history” the “unity can be fleeting”, lawmakers despite Ryan’s opposition “voted for them anyway.” Those who had opposed him were “defectors”

The take away? Paul Ryan may have won but he’s not sitting well with either his members or his president, he’s weak!

Now notice how the contrast with Pelosi. the “Vast Majority” of Democrats voted for Pelosi. A positive adjective not noting that with a caucus with 47 less members she lost four times as many votes. (4-1 by vote for 2.1% defections for her vs 0.5% for Ryan) The effort to oust her were “abortive”, The problem “disappointing election results” not anything to do with her leadership.

Now if it’s in one story it’s not a big deal, but if you use this subtle wording in say 10 stories a day, (the same wording is repeated in a later story at the post) every day then you plant the idea in the mind of the reader. Ryan weak, Pelosi strong, GOP divided, Dems united.

It’s all rather subtle but that’s what selling a meme is all about.

And that’s how the MSM continues to try to play you day after day, year after year, decade after decade, which is likely why you’re here.


2016 Fabulous 50 Blog AwardsIt’s 2017 and we have a new chance to make our annual goal which requires $61 a day.

If you’d like to help support our award winning independent non MSM journalism and opinion from writers all over the nation like Baldilocks, RH, Fausta, JD Rucker Christopher Harper, Pat Austin, and John Ruberry plus Monthly pieces from Jon Fournier, Tech Knight and Ellen Kolb and want to help pay their monthly wages (along with the cartoonist) and new writers I’m looking to hire) please consider hitting DaTipJar.




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Please consider Subscribing. You can be listed as a Friend of DaTechguy blog for as little as $2 a week. If only 130 of the 209K+ unique visitors who came in 2016 .07% subscribed at the same levels as our current subscription base we would make our current annual goal with ease. If we could boost that number to 260 I could afford to go to CPAC and cover major events in person all over the country and maybe take some of Da Magnificent Seven writers with me.

Remember all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level