Mainstream Media Content Warning: Headlines Harmful If Swallowed Whole
March 10, 2005, 04:00 AM
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Personally, I'm a Google News girl. The only time I read print media is in line at the grocery store. And then it is usually an Enquirer story about a 5 year old Nepalese boy who is being slowly devoured by a face-eating tumor.

Side note: Interesting—I was channel surfed into one of those cable medical shows where doctors in Thailand were surgically removing from the face of a young boy meteor-sized tumors known literally as face-eating tumors.

Hmmm. I am now reconsidering my position on Big Foot and women impregnated by aliens.

So I read the daily news for the most part online, a range of mainstream to just right of conspiracy theory. For example, every morning, I glance at the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times websites.

The Post is to check in with George Will who, in addition to being the very best conservative writer, owns the top slot on my all time favorite men list. [FML]. [VDARE.COM note: please remonstrate directly with Bryanna, not us!]

The LA Times?...that's more in the spirit of the Godfather. You know, keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.

Then I mosey over to Michelle Malkin's blog, 2blowhards, Drudge and the National Interest.

A visit to Malkin's blog is like 50 ccs of political junkie heroin with an IV-push STAT. The National Interest is basically the old National Review only super-sized with a Coke, and it's home to John O'Sullivan who is currently in contention for a slot on the FML.

It occurs to me that skimming the headlines to stay abreast of current events may explain so many poorly-cast votes by Americans—and the ignorance with which people debate immigration.

If you were to arrive at an opinion based solely on daily headlines, you could easily arrive at a position 180 degrees due south of reality.

You might even think a "Virginian"—perhaps a disgruntled descendant of Robert E. Lee?–was recently accused of conspiring to kill the President.

Here are some other recent headlines and sub-heads pertaining to immigration and the National Question.

Gazzar is referring to Congressman David Dreier, chairman of the committee on rules. The headline suggests that Dreier is a leader in immigration reform, doing something to mend the problem.

Those of us in the reform movement know otherwise. Sure, Dreier is on the front lines...in the way that Cornwallis was in Yorktown. In other words, an alright guy but not exactly on our side.

Here is another:

Believe it or not, this is an article about a recent survey that showed two-thirds of Florida voters opposed to Bush's proposed guest worker program. Immigration reform advocates are generally opposed to the program because they see the amnesty wolf in sheep's clothing.

However, the headline leads the reader to believe the exact opposite. By opposing the guest worker program, two-thirds of Florida voters are in essence supporting immigration reform.

When in reference to a group or individual working against illegal immigration, the headlines are often mean-spirited and spiteful.

This is an article about District Attorney John M. Morganelli who ordered the raid of a local business wherein 27 "undocumented" immigrants were arrested for using fake social security cards to gain employment.

The journalist tells the story of one of the illegal aliens arrested in the raid. He had been living here peacefully for 18 years when suddenly the big bad DA decided to pick on him...blah, blah, blah.

Histrionics run amok. The DA is said to be on a crusade against these poor people.

In truth, he is doing his job and well, I might add.

  • Supremacists a border worry: FBI, civilian group are concerned about racists joining border sweeps next month, by Susan Carroll [3/05/05 The Arizona Republic]

The Minute Man Project is a group of roughly 1000 volunteers who are dedicating 30 days to assist the Border Patrol in their efforts to apprehend illegal aliens from Mexico as they cross the border into the US.

But the headline suggests that the organizers are white supremacists—and the sub-head implies that this is the opinion of the FBI.

Judge for yourself, this was the article's only reference to the FBI:

"FBI spokeswoman Susan Herskovitz said the civilian patrol's plan to converge on this town of 1,500 on April 1 for a month long stakeout on the border is 'definitely a concern.' She declined to elaborate."

For reporter Carroll to discern an insinuation of ethnic supremacy in such a mundane bureaucratic comment requires genius-level creative aptitude. Once again, the reader is left with an impression quite contrary to truth.

Needless to say, so long as we have mainstream media guiding the waters of public opinion, readers will have to prepare themselves in three ways.

  • First, skip the headline and read the whole article.

  • Next, after reading the article (especially mine) consider the source and think for yourself.

Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.