Sunday, January 09, 2011

"not how media effects work"

At headsup: the blog Fred's been studying Fox for a while. Here's a note at the bottom of his latest post, one on "a genuine departure" for the Fair and Balanced guys ("about as close to a direct, out-and-out lie -- to taking publicly available evidence and standing it on its head -- as it's possible to get and still look sort of like journalism.") which, by the way, is worth reading on its own as a dissection of how they do what they do.
Change gears for a moment: Did Fox (or the repellent Sarah Palin) actually push an unhinged loser so far over the edge that he killed half a dozen people at a political gathering in Arizona on Saturday? No. That isn't how media effects work. Media effects are tangential, incremental, and cumulative. News stories (and movies, campaign ads, and Saturday morning cartoons) don't tend to make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise. What they do is help people fit events into categories they understand. So when the topic of the Arizona shooting came up in the comments on Fox's Internet story, it got this response:

how conveinient, another crisis...another reason to encroach on personal freedoms. random act, or orchestrated plan? I'm truely sorry for the families of those who lost today, but that doesn't justify using it as a weapon to take more freedoms.
Fox doesn't actually make people into moral zombies. It makes moral zombiehood seem like a rational, self-interested choice.

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