Thursday, May 05, 2016

Theoretical Thursday: Bluff-calling and eye-gazing

Do you get the impression every now and then that the Washington Times is just kidding around with the print edition -- that it's saving the single-malt crazy for the folks who enjoy it online?  The story's the same in both cases; the differences remind us that there's more to the framing process than just poking keywords into database searches.

At top is the print treatment of a fairly straightforward story:

Russia said Wednesday that it will deploy three newly created military divisions to protect its southern and western borders, days after U.S. and NATO military leaders unveiled plans to stand up a 4,200-member force in Eastern Europe to counter Russian aggression there.

... and the actors are more or less the ones you'd expect from the hed: Russia, NATO and the US. Notice how things change for the homepage, though:
 Notice how it's not just personalized but individualized: It's Putin staring down Obama, not Russia staring down NATO (hence the four-year-old filer of Putin aiming "a replica of the AK-47 assault rifle," rather than the undated shot on the front). It doesn't tell you what to think, but as Bernard Cohen put it, it's stunningly successful at telling you what to think about -- say, that extra jar of Survival Seeds for the bunker.

It's not as if the print Times doesn't lavish attention on the usurper; in the offlede, after all, the Justice Department is "President Obama's Justice Department." But this one seems a little stronger on the special sauce than usual, given what the older right-wing press seemed to make of the matter.

The real question the Times might want to ask is: Can't anybody here play this game? As in, wouldn't you have to know which player has the weaker hand to know who's bluffing? Is the Washington Times telling Putin what cards the pitiful, helpless giant is holding? Why does the Washington Times hate America? Why does the Washington Times hate freedom???

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