How the media plays games with your mind

How the media plays games with your mind

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This past week, insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol. A 35 year old US Air Force veteran and participant in the insurrection, was shot and killed by Capitol Police. The media readily reported her US military background. But left out other information that was less than flatteringThis is a classic media propaganda trick.

When ever there is an officer involved shooting – the standard modus operandi is for the police to release the criminal history of the dead suspect, painting him or her as a bad, evil person – while simultaneously releasing the list of awards and commendations of the involved officers.

The media dutifully notes that the suspect, previously arrested for being a jerk, was shot by officer Smith, who received a commendation for his act of heroism in saving a dog from a submerged car in 2015.

The police department is intentionally manipulating the story to spin that their shooting was justified – even though none of us have anyway of knowing the truth of the situation until investigations are completed.

The media goes along with this game – and paints a flattering picture of the officers and a negative view of the dead suspect – this is intended to spin your views of the situation.

In the case of the Capitol shooting, the media left out that the victim had some history as well – and had been previously charged with property destruction and tampering with a vehicle and twice had restraining orders issued against her. This omission may bias your view of the story and the parties involved.

This Twitter post inspired this blog post – as this is essentially what happened.

Similar coverage occurred with Rebekah Jones, a GIS specialist for the State of Florida who was fired over allegations she was insubordinate to management demands – she said the State was cooking the numbers on Covid. Having reviewed my own state’s numbers – and very poor data quality – I believe her allegations have merit and the Governor intentionally acted in retribution against her. The media painted a very positive view of her – only later did a tabloid note she had some personal background issues that worked against her credibility.

(At the time, the media was looking for, as usual, negative topics toward a politician – and this story fit perfectly. It also fit narrative of emphasizing women in STEM – Jones was writing her PhD dissertation in geography – specifically analysis of climate data . This became a great “media package” story that tied together several concepts.)

UPDATE APR 11 2021: With time and more information, others find the story of Jones to be lacking. The media seems to have taken a narrative and run with it – even though much was apparently not true.

The issue is the media does this all the time – selectively reporting on details in order to bolster the case for or against a person or a topic. It’s a subtle form of propaganda using censorship, cherry picking, assertions, and appeals to authority. The intent is to manipulate the story.

You need to keep your eyes wide open at all times when reading the media or social media. I listened to a podcast last night by a media marketing expert who noted that essentially every story you read or here has been planted by someone. Every media story is a manipulation – even if its friendly local story about community volunteers cleaning up a local park. The story was likely planted through press release and the participants likely were seeking a specific type of positive coverage to bolster their group or other activities.

Related: How “What You See is All There Is” works to influence your thinking

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