Whenever we Westerners see television and the newspapers report on the situation in some country, we always have to be aware our feelings might be being manipulated. The TV and newspaper makers might want us to think positively or negatively of the government of that country, for reasons they keep to themselves. If they want to influence our opinion, they can achieve that. We should not underestimate their creative and intellectual power to do so, and likewise, we should not overestimate our ability to see through and withstand manipulation. Making TV reports and writing newspaper articles is a specialist profession that only a minute part of the population masters, and it involves tons of tricks of the trade most people don’t know anything about.
Let me give you a fictitious example. Imagine two countries, called Petia and Qudia. They are comparable in size and population, and their political and economic status in the world is also comparable. Both nations are governed by rulers who hold strong convictions. So far for the similarities, but let’s now look at two differences. The ideas of the Petian rulers are in some respects conflicting with the ideas of the rulers in Qudia. The second difference: in Petia, 24% of the people is very unhappy with their government. In Qudia, 12% of the inhabitants is very unhappy with their government.
These differences are already existing for years. It’s the kind of non-prominent information that finds its way to the Western newspapers every now and then, somewhere on page 6. So those Westerners who want to be well-informed and who therefore read a lot and attentively follow the news, have this information stored somewhere in the back of their heads. Yet the many Westerners who don’t follow the news very attentively, won’t know about the differences in discord in Petia and Qudia.
Now, one day, for whatever political reason, the media want the general public in the West to think that there is great political dissatisfaction in Qudia, rather than in Petia. The media can then cast doubt on the reliability of the poll figures, or on the integrity of the pollsters in Qudia. Casting doubt on someone’s integrity is a very easy thing to do. If the reporter for instance casually mentions that the director of Qudia’s main polling agency ‘never skips the annual barbecue party of the Qudian Home Secretary’, you already heard something that suggests the director and the minister might be in league with one another.
What however will have more effect than casting doubts, is playing at the emotions of the viewers. So the media will send report teams to Qudia, and these teams will look for people who belong to the very unhappy 12% and film and interview them. The media teams will be rather choosy while selecting the people for the broadcast. They will look for people who know how to word their grievances clearly and poignantly. They will look for attractive women. They will look for people who make a sympathetic first impression (that’s namely the only impression the viewers will get). They will look for people who by the way they talk seem to share familiar values. In short, they will look for ‘12-percenters’ with whom the viewers will easily identify with. They will look for people that are easy to like. And after the editing is done, this is what the TV might show about the Qudians, before the studio presenter discusses matters with the guests:
They’ll show an old man, kindly petting his dog. We see the man gaze at the sunset on the horizon. He is in a reflective mood and we, the viewers, get also a bit in a reflective mood because of it. He says: ‘God has given me a lot to be grateful for. A lovely wife, healthy children, work that I liked to do. Yet every evening I pray for a change of government.’
They will show a woman, sitting near a window, softly crying. Yesterday, her husband has been arrested, ‘allegedly on the suspicion of subversive activities’ the narrator says in a tone of voice, as if he notices something smelly. The camera swings to the right and we see her young child, upset, looking with big eyes at its mother.
The media report will also tell us about disturbed Qudians, living in the West. They will show young Qudians, who chained themselves to the fence around their country’s embassy in Washington, London or Paris, surrounded by banners saying ‘Regime change in Qudia NOW!!!!’. The police cut the chains and push the protesters in a van. One of them turns around and shouts desparately, right before the van doors close: ‘Why is the world looking the other way?
This kind of one-sided reporting will go on and on. Therefore, the unhappy Qudians will find their way to the talks people have about politics, at their work, in the pub, over the garden fence. Most people will get the feeling there is something very wrong in Qudia. An inner conflict will of course emerge in the Westerner who knows that the dissatisfaction in Petia is twice as much. When he tells that to the people around him, he will almost feel as if he is saying something bad. Those he is talking to, will look at him with a sense of disbelief, of confusion, of amusement perhaps, as if they suspect him to be ill-informed. One night, such a well-informed Westerner is privileged to have been invited to a TV debate, and he is looking forward to the chance to draw people’s attention to the much worse situation in Petia. Yet he will be surprised by a series of thorny questions that ridicule or smear those suffering Petians he hoped to be an advocate for. In short, the few who know better, will feel put in the defensive, in the mood of emotional mass mobilization over the misery in Qudia.
Had the media been reporting objectively, they would of course simply have sticked to the facts about both countries, and tried to find out how the ideas and ways of the Petian and the Qudian rulers are originating or contributing to the ‘unhappiness rates’ of both peoples respectively, with the greater focus on Petia.
While watching the news, we are not only thinking with our heads, but with our hearts too. I believe most Westerners have a compassionate reflex. We wish to see good prevail in the world, and we are blessed people for it, but unfortunately, that makes us vulnerable for emotional manipulation by the media in all the political issues the same media don’t tell us enough facts about. People are (logically) more touched by the injustice and sorrow they get to see, than by the injustice and sorrow they don’t get to see, even if the latter are much greater.
So if TV and newspaper editors want to disinform the general public about a certain country, they can do it, because they know: ‘Twelve percent? Twenty-four percent? Who cares? They’re just statistics. And in terms of impact on the public opinion, statistics will always lose from the close-up of a crying child.’
The whole issue has great political importance, because the less misunderstandings arise between the nations, the better peace and harmony in the world are being served.
It goes without saying that malevolent broadcasting like the above will always take place under the banner of ‘freedom of the press’.
Previously on this thread: see page 17 for an outline of the contents
Britain faces the threat of Anglocide
Long live the Jews, down with Torahism
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