Tag Archives: Media Matters

Fox News aired two minutes of Democratic keynote address, discussed Ayers instead

from Media Matters

In its August 26 coverage of the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Fox News aired just over two minutes of former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s nearly 20-minute keynote address to the convention. Rather than air Warner’s entire speech, Fox News cut to commercial, then Fox News host Alan Colmes stated, “In other election news, an independent group supporting John McCain released an ad last week attacking [Sen.] Barack Obama’s ties to former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers,” and aired an ad from the Obama campaign responding to the independent ad. Colmes and co-host Sean Hannity then interviewed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is supporting Sen. John McCain.

In contrast, both MSNBC and CNN aired the entirety of Warner’s address.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, Election 2008, new media, ObamaBiden08

Swiftboating 2.0

The thematic structure of the right-wing smear campaign against Barack Obama

from Media Matters

As the means of communication have evolved, presidential campaigns have grown increasingly multifaceted, with each election featuring layers of complexity that were not present four years before. The most striking feature of the 2008 election may be the sheer volume and variation of the attacks being directed at Sen. Barack Obama. Though they come from many sources, arrive through a variety of media, and cover a wide range of subjects, a close examination reveals a unified thematic structure to these attacks.

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Swiftboating

Swiftboating

As has been extensively documented, many of the criticisms Obama has faced are based on outright falsehoods. The truth is that he is a Christian, not a Muslim; he was born in the United States; he doesn’t refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance; he wasn’t endorsed by Fidel Castro; and so on. Other attacks are outrageous distortions with a kernel of truth at their core.

The diagram below shows how the seemingly disconnected attacks on Obama all drive in a similar direction. Each begins with some aspect of Obama’s history, family, personal characteristics, or beliefs. The attack then moves to one of three broad themes: that Obama is a Muslim or somehow foreign; that he represents a black radicalism more at home in the 1960s than today; or that he is a liberal elitist with a radical, even socialist agenda.

Some of the attacks touch on two or even all three of these themes, which is why they are represented in a Venn diagram. But all the attacks ultimately point to the conclusion that Obama is “not one of us,” as the expression goes — not Christian, not white, not mainstream, not even American.

Just as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth unleashed on the public a dossier of lies about John Kerry in 2004, this new campaign is on a mission to spread misinformation about a presidential candidate. We call it “Swiftboating 2.0” not only because it is the latest model of a political smear campaign, but also because it shares features of “Web 2.0” sites like Facebook and MySpace: significant portions of the content are generated by ordinary people and are spread from peer to peer. Swiftboating 2.0 combines these new information pathways with traditional media — books from conservative publishers, right-wing radio, and conservative pundits and strategists on television — to spread the smears as widely as possible and force them into the mainstream media.

To understand the attacks on Obama, one must acknowledge that they operate together, as one coherent, thematically unified campaign: Swiftboating 2.0.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Election 2008, new media, ObamaBiden08