Media Power

by Linda Bowles

March 28, 2000

No matter what your political persuasion is, you have to admire the power of the news media. They can and do control what you think about and what you don't think about.

Consider the recent news event when a 6-year-old boy shot and killed a 6-year-old classmate in a government school. As a result of the way this shocking story was covered, most Americans ended up focusing upon the need for new gun laws - even though it is obvious that the real problem was that the little boy was living unsupervised in the squalor of a crack house surrounded by dysfunctional adults.

This tragedy has very little, if anything, to do with the presence or absence of gun laws, although our ambulance-chasing president and an enabling press have effectively misled us to think otherwise.

The story the media might have told but did not is that the overriding cause of juvenile crime and violence is out-of-wedlock births, which are, to be charitable, the unintended consequence of liberal welfare policies. Rather than focus us upon the societal rot eating away at our families, we were misdirected. We debated gun locks, as though mechanical contrivances could save us from ourselves.

A point to be made is that if, perchance, the media were to focus upon and highlight extraordinary stories about how women have saved themselves from rape and worse by having a gun with which to defend themselves, it would make a big difference in the way guns are perceived. Can there be any doubt that a drumbeat of stories featuring guns as indispensable instruments for defending lives, family and treasures would cause a significant shift in attitudes toward gun ownership?

There are over 20,000 murders per year in the United States. It is becoming more and more common for the media, in the interest of making a point and advancing an agenda, to make causes celebres of a select few victims of murder. It would be so easy to choose a different set of victims to make a different point, and advance an opposing agenda.

Increasingly, we are inclined to respond only to what we see. The American masses are not inclined to believe anything of importance has actually happened anywhere, anytime unless someone has taken a picture of it.

We were enthusiastic about dropping bombs in Serbia and Kosovo because we saw pictures of hungry, sick and weeping refugees. For one reason or another, the television cameras did not make it to Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were hacked to death by machetes in an ethnic conflict - and America gave no sign of caring.

I and others are convinced that if the television moguls, who are not adverse to showing any other form of perversion, violence and mayhem, could find it in their conscience to show a partial-birth abortion in all its horrid detail, a law forbidding it would be passed and signed within weeks. While the excuse is given that there is a need to protect the public's delicate sensitivities, I suspect what is being protected is the liberal Democratic agenda and the profits of the abortion industry.

As reported, opinion polls tell us we want politicians to keep our tax overpayments because we believe they can spend the money better than we can; and polls tell us that most of us think that liberal Democrats, the very people who have ruined public education and sold out to educational unions, can do the best job of reforming it. I really don't believe this is what a majority of Americans think, but if it is, it's time to move to Puerto Rico and vote against statehood.

Although these polls are presented to us as news, I am thoroughly convinced that many of them are carefully aimed at shaping public opinion rather than measuring it. Those who manipulate us with polls understand that most of us are very uncertain on what to think and feel about various issues. This is to say that polls service the "herd instinct." People are looking for what a majority of other people are thinking and saying, so they can comfortably situate themselves in the middle of the herd and run with it – over a cliff if that is where the stampede takes them.

As we survey the American landscape, and contemplate the many ways in which our nation has drifted "off course," perhaps we should give more attention to the role that the media, in particular, the television media, have played in illuminating wrong paths and misdirecting our attention.

Linda Bowles' 'take no prisoners' attitude has made her one of the few conservative women columnists in America with a large readership. She has just published a book, The Remnant, a prophetic fable illustrated by Johnny Hart, the creator of the comic strips B.C. and The Wizard of Id.

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30 mar 2000