Friday, July 02, 2010

Drugs, sex, furriners, Bible, flag

Most perfect front page in Fox history! Murderous Mexicans stalk your border, spurned commie spy rat's ex-hubby spills all to the Torygraph, godless schools scorn the Bible, and California pees all over the flag* and the memory of September 11.

The last of these comes with a genuinely Frankensteinian lede:

Governor Schwarzenegger issued an apology Friday after California residents are up in arms that a flag mural — paying homage to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — was painted over after the state ruled it was graffiti.

... and the usual sort of evidence to support a claim like "California residents are up in arms":

Sandy Kraft said, "I drive this every day and to not see it up there waving at me, even though it doesn't wave, it's still waving at you."

Ever wonder why Planet Fox seems so different from the world you saw when last you peeked outside? That's the basic agenda-setting hypothesis, summed up in a metaphor that Max McCombs and Don Shaw** borrowed from Bernard Cohen's "The Press and Foreign Policy": The press isn't very good at telling people what to think, but it's really, really good at telling people what to think about. Thanks largely to the groundbreaking 1972 M&S article, Cohen's book has probably got the highest ratio of times-quoted-to-times-read of anything that doesn't claim to be scripture, so here's the sentence after the famous one, just so you can say you've seen it:

It follows from this that the world looks different to different people, depending not only on their personal interests but also on the map that is drawn for them by the writers, editors and publishers of the papers they read.

The big papers donned the sackcloth and ashes in a hurry last year as they bemoaned their failure to take the Tea Party folks and the climate deniers seriously. That was a mistake; for as long as we've had "objectivity" as an ideal in journalism, malicious people have been able to beat the system at its own game. We don't need to give these folks the time of day. But we do need their map, and -- conveniently -- some days they publish alarmingly detailed copies.

* It's hard to find any plausible meaning in English under which Schwarzenegger could have "nixed" the flag mural, but was it over when the Austrians bombed Pearl Harbor?
** For the record, yes. Your Editor got a C in journalism history from Don Shaw back in the (ahem) Ford administration.

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