Think Propaganda

How a "nonpartisan" website uses deceptive editing to manufacture their spin. With J$P Video!

We stumbled across a provocative item on Wonkette that piqued our curiosity:
Roger Ailes knows more war equals higher ratings, orders anchors to “Sell! Sell! Sell!”

This turned out to be a plug for a bit of propaganda from the happy gang at Think Progress, a left-leaning website which has been accused of playing fast and loose with facts. Their latest claim:
From Hype To Hysteria: Fox News Selling Preemptive War Against Iran
Tomorrow marks the deadline for Iran to comply with U.N. demands to suspend portions of its nuclear program. Fox is using the opportunity to sell another preemptive war. Today Fox has aired multiple segments featuring pundits who claim that a U.S. military attack on Iran is both essential and imminent.

Then follows their "evidence": a clever little video montage that takes a sentence or two from disparate anchors and commentators and edits them so as to prove their point. It begins with an anchor reading a quote from Arnaud de Borchgrave that talks about the likelihood that President Bush would order a military strike on Iran "against the advice of many of his advisers". That doesn't sound like he's saying it is "both essential and imminent". But the TP folks hope you won't notice that.

There is a little meat on the fragile bones: quick clips from Bill Kristol and Gen Burton Moore making the case for such a strike. But TP's claim that the anchors "repeatedly parrot these arguments" is dishonest. Examples:

FOX ANCHOR: And could the Bush administration prepare to launch a massive air strike against Iran’s nuclear sites? This hour we will talk with one expert who says yes.
FOX ANCHOR: And I talked to a guest last hour who said military action could be imminent before Bush leaves office.

The anchor here is referencing her guest Mr de Borchgrave, whom TP would have you believe was insisting that an attack on Iran is "essential". But they don't tell you what he actually said:

De BORCHGRAVE: There are some very powerful voices in the Republican Party, especially the intellectual support of the Republican Party, in the form of the neoconservatives, and also the Christian right, the base, a very large base, who feel that Iran is a mortal menace... The intelligence community, incidentally, believes it won't be until the middle of the next decade before they have a usable nuclear weapon... There are some very important people in the Pentagon who are fearful that [a military strike] is the direction in which it's moving.

Does that sound like Mr De Borchgrave was insisting that an attack is "essential"? And whom was the anchor talking to when she referenced Mr De Borchgrave's comments? Former Middle East Ambassador Dennis Ross, who was making the case not for military action, but for sanctions! Why do you suppose the TP gang quoted Kristol and Moore, but not Ross? For that matter, why did they conveniently omit the interview with Joe Cirincione from the Center for American Progress?

It's not that difficult to create any desired impression by cherry-picking sentence fragments with deceptive editing. As a demonstration of this technique, here's a montage we whipped up in about 30 minutes [video]:


See? It's proof! Obviously Roger Ailes ordered Fox to air multiple segments featuring pundits who claim that a U.S. military attack on Iran is both unnecessary and unwise. And Fox anchors repeatedly parroted these arguments.

The reason it's so easy to create dueling montages with such polar opposite slants is because it's the Fox News Channel, where all points of view are heard. Fair and balanced, defined.

posted: Thu - August 31, 2006 at 11:58 AM       j$p  send 

Fox Fan
I realize that it's not funny at all, but I can't help but to laugh at the feeble attacks by the far left media on Fox.
Great montage johnny, point well made!
August 31, 2006, 12:41:32 PM EDT – Like – Reply

"It's not that difficult to create any desired impression by cherry-picking sentence fragments with deceptive editing."
Interesting. This is just what the liberals claim that Bush did in the lead up to the war. I even remembering a certain Republican promising there would be hearings on this in "two weeks." How long ago was that?
September 1, 2006, 2:46:01 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Fox News. Fair and balance defied. Yes, I agree totally.
I have no trouble whatsoever finding spin there.
I agree with you montages are problematic and instantly suspect. Most of the time, I try to provide an entire segment's clip to make a point even if it's usually overkill.
But there are some times when that's not possible. Like some commentary I just did on their so-call "business block" which has little to do with business. YouTube has a 10-minute limit (even using a montage, I as forced to limit my focus to 2 of 4 shows).
But simply describing it like, say NewsBusters on the right or NewsHounds on the left (yes, they sometimes have video), is really no better. It's just a verbal montage. Transcripts can be spliced just as easily as video. And out-of-context quotes are a notorious method of misrepresentation.
September 2, 2006, 3:04:49 PM EDT – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
Sknabt, you're back. The last I recall hearing from you, you were defending the newsliars for deleting posts from me. You argued that it was OK to delete them because my posts were what you described as "foaming conservative" arguments. At that time I asked you to cite what posts I made that fit this description, but for some reason you failed to reply.
Now you seem to believe that it's OK for the newspups delete a post because it's conservative. But I don't think you have any idea of why my posts were deleted, or what their content was. Still, I'm a patient and tolerant guy, so I'll give you another chance. Please cite the "foaming conservative" posts, either deleted or not, that I put up over at the newshounds.
September 2, 2006, 3:40:20 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Fox Fan
"sknabt" will search for hours and never respond.
That's what happens when you talk smack and can't back it up.
September 2, 2006, 11:08:31 PM EDT – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
I disagree, FF. I don't think he'll search at all. He seems to be more of a drive-by commenter. He is happy to make some sort of provocative statement, but then he's in no hurry to address the responses he gets. I would be surprised if in this case he actually returned to answer the question posed. But I'm happy to be proven wrong.
September 3, 2006, 12:30:14 PM EDT – Like – Reply