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. (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.


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