Media Bias

You could spend hours over on Rhetorica.net reading about the canons of classical rhetoric and structural biases in the media.
Or you could just graze on over to Something Awful and see how today’s media might have covered famous events in history. I think the SA “goons” have a pretty good intuitive grasp of the “master narrative” concept, in particular …

4 thoughts on “Media Bias”

  1. Jay, that canons of Classical Rhetoric page looks excellent. I’ll have to look at it in detail at some point.

    Richard Weaver had some books on rhetoric which I read once upon a time. Weaver, I recall, made the point that the art of rhetoric, far from being mere gimmickry, is the art of persuasion, and as such it is the art most suited to a democratic people. The speaker has to win the listener over by the use of words. The tyrant can command assent by threats and force. The democrat statesman must obtain assent by winning the hearts and minds of his listeners. Weaver also distinguished rhetoric from sophistry, and noted that properly understood, a study of rhetoric allowed the listener to discern and resist sophistry. A huge and fascinating subject.

  2. Although tyrants have reached power through, or at least with, the help of rhetoric. Adolf Hitler, for instance. But rhetoric is indeed an art, one that is both misunderstood and neglected by most of us (and that, I am ashamed to admit, would include yours truly).

    And in capitalist democracies, where rhetoric and money matter so prominently, it is baffling to find that most people tend to be rather ignorant of at least one of these subjects. Like that opinion poll that found the vast majority thought most political decisions were financially motivated, yet the same crushing majority almost proudly admitted they couldn’t be bothered reading the financial pages of their newspaper. And the same number, of course, considered themselves “well informed”.

    Not that it cannot change. After all, it was acceptable, if not fashionable, to claim you were computer illiterate a decade ago. These days, it is not as bad as admitting you can’t read but it certainly ain’t such a cool thing to say at a cocktail party.

    Here is to hoping the old art once again claims the place it rightly deserves in our society. One only has to watch one Tony Blair addressing his Parliament to know it is not yet lost.

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