Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

(AUDIO) Jay Rosen on the Media’s Control of Political Debates

Posted in media, politics by allisonkilkenny on January 18, 2009

Glenn Greenwald

6a00d8341c904953ef00e54fbc93ec8834-800wi[updated below (w/transcript) – Update II – Update III]

Listen to the excellent interview here: Jay Rosen on the media’s control of political debates

This week, Jay Rosen — the NYU Journalism Professor and author of the PressThink blog — wrote one of the best and most insightful pieces yet on how the American media artificially limits the range of political debate.  I recommend as highly as possible that the entire piece be read — here.  

Rosen begins by citing a chart from the 1986 book, The Uncensored War, by Daniel Hallin, which defined the three categories of arguments that the media employed during the Vietnam War:  (1) those within the “Sphere of Consensus” (ideas deemed so plainly true that they required no debate or examination); (2) those within the “Sphere of Legitimate Controversy” (ideas deemed reasonable enough to be debated and disputed within mainstream discussion); and (3) those within the “Sphere of Deviance” (ideas so plainly wrong, radical and fringe that they deserved no hearing at all):

According to Rosen, the diagram depicting these three spheres is “easily the most useful diagram [] found for understanding the practice of journalism in the United States, and the hidden politics of that practice.”  Rosen argues — quite persuasively — that American journalists, usually unthinkingly (i.e., without even realizing that they do it), control and restrict political discussions by using these categories for virtually every political issue of any significance.  No theory regarding how the media controls political debate is complete without reference to Manufacturing Consent, but Rosen’s explanation is quite compatible with it and, standing alone, has great value.

He’s my guest on Salon Radio today to discuss his critique and several related issues, including the ability of political figures to move ideas from”deviance” status to the realm of the legitimate; how supporters of those political figures often excuse their failure to do so by accepting artificial (and false) claims about what is and is not “practical” or “doable”; and the role of the Internet in eroding the media’s power to define these categories. 

It is, in my view, easily one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done, and I recommend it highly.  It is roughly 25 minutes in length, and can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below.  A transcript is will be posted very shortly.

UPDATE:  The transcript is here.  And, as a reminder, all podcasts can be downloaded as mp3’s (here) or ITunes (here).

UPDATE II:  The third and final installment of my Los Angeles Timesdiscussion with Jim Antle, regarding the final days of the Bush administration, is here.  The second installment is here, and the first one is here.

UPDATE III:  I have an article in the new issue of The American Conservative regarding the homogeneity of opinion among our political and media elites when it comes to Israel and U.S. policy towards that country.  The article can be read here

I prepared a quiz to accompany the article, which appears at the bottom of the page of the online version (“Who said what?”), designed to underscore the point.  I’m genuinely interested in how well people are able to answer that quiz (it’s on the same page as the article itself).  Other articles in this issue on Israel/Gaza include ones by Daniel Levy, Avi Shlaim and John Mearsheimer.

10 Ways the Corporate Media Tried to Make You Think Obama Was a Liberal

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008



1. Cherry picked a 2007 National Journal ranking which concluded that Obama was the most liberal Senator. This despite the fact that it was an outlier with a deeply flawed methodology that no other ranking confirmed, and only a true nitwit would swallow credulously the notion that Obama was more liberal than Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders.

2. Nodded approvingly as Clinton campaign pushed “Obama is too liberal” meme. Ignored the fact that even in the National Journal ranking, of the 267 issues on which they both cast votes in 2007, they differed by only 10 votes. “The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,” said Rutgers University political scientist Richard Lau.

3. Turned into complete bobbleheads as McCain campaign and a woman who excised the letter “g” from the alphabet endlessly repeat the same.

4. Refused to listen when “liberal bloggers” pointed out that Obama wasn’t all that liberal.

5. Assumed that the only thing meaningful about Obama’s expression of admiration for Ronald Reagan was that it pissed off liberal bloggers.

6. Hyperventillated over Jeremiah Wright as if he was capable of some kind of Vulcan mind control.

7. Deduced, like Larry Kudlow, that if given the chance Obama would appoint Bill Ayers Secretary of State.

8. Preached the gospel of America as “center-right nation” after the election when all evidence was to the contrary, because — well, they and all their friends are “center right” and that must mean something.

9. Demanded that Obama must “govern from the center” to makethemselves the country happy.

10. Reacted with shock and delight when Obama appoints “conservative” Hillary Clinton, a woman whose voting record on Iraq was nearly identical to his own, as Secretary of State — repudiating liberal bloggers who were obviously hoping for Bill Ayers.