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Propaganda Analysis

February 17, 2010

My first propaganda analysis,

Health Care Reform

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown obviously scrutinizes George Lucas’ interstellar masterpiece, Star Wars. How else can he explain his impossible special election victory that crippled the Democratic Empire and eliminated its seemingly unstoppable filibuster-proof majority? Brown, a Republican, may eventually acknowledge his expertise of The Force, but until then, blatant neglect for health care bipartisanship, which has originated and stayed on party lines, remains the catalyst. On election night, Rasmussen Reports identified 56% of all Massachusetts voters polled as choosing health care reform, President Barack Obama and other Democrats’ capital issue, as their principle reason for voting. With Brown now holding the congressional seat of recently-deceased Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, Americans evidently detest the current reform approach, stalling it indefinitely.

On January 28, one day after President Obama’s State of the Union address, CNN.com posted an article reinvigorating the health care strategy. “House, Senate leaders say push for health care reform continues” reads the large, bolded headline. Below, a small, rectangular image displays House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, assuredly smiling off-camera to (presumably) the average, struggling American citizen. While exuding optimism, the picture appears too orthodox, a business card image given to every news group with instructions stating “use at will.” The article nimbly walks along the independent wire, featuring opinions from popular Democrats and Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader John Boehner. This unbiased technique broadens viewership and enhances the network’s legitimacy.

FOXNews.com employs an opposing tactic, publishing anti-leftist writings catering to conservatives. Dated January 29, an article titled “Health Bill ‘On Life Support’ After Obama Appeal” inadvertently attacks the aforementioned CNN posting, replacing optimism with hopelessness. Moreover, this headline carries the presence of a mere footnote, with viewers’ eyes fixated on the gigantic image underneath. Republican Representative Steven LaTourette glares down angrily towards the podium, his hands spread with palms upward, symbolizing “here are the facts and the bleak conclusion.” Those who cannot deduce LaTourette’s body language will still easily grasp his message through an accompanying politicized game board mimicking Milton Bradley’s Operation, featuring “sweetheart deals”, “pork ribs,” and “you’ve got to be kidney.” Notably, the article features few Democrats and numerous Republicans analyzing the situation. Despite vast differences permeating CNN.com and FOXNews.com publications, both articles’ success relies on propaganda.

Authors Anthony Pratkanis and Elliott Aronson, in their book, Age of Propaganda, divulge the persuasive “four strategems of influence” media corporations utilize. CNN.com and FOXNews.com immediately develop their favorable target audience through their reputability and immense viewership. They do not search for people, rather people search for them. This misplaced trust increases the readers’ susceptibility to propaganda, while the two articles reinforce “facts” with quotes from trustworthy, elected officials. Visual aids, exemplified by Nancy Pelosi’s hopeful grin and Steven LaTourette’s doctoral examination, recapitulate the respective articles’ headline and stress a particular message. CNN.com readers will understand health care reform’s inevitability while FOXNews.com readers will understand health care reform’s impossibility. With the success of these three stratagems, viewers feel emotion towards the expressed ideals, cementing their world and the writing together. This final stratagem bleakly destroys freedom of thought and willpower, arresting the mind and isolating victims from truth.

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