Extra Credit #2

There is a question in the air if media has an impact on the politics of this country. Democratic and republicans. Where do we mostly get our information? Let me go ahead and answer that. We get our information through the media. So can the media can control the outcome of any political party? I say yes, yes they can. Now, someone who wants to find information to make their own individual thought about politics or anything else, it is going to be hard. Why is it so hard? Because we are getting our information through some sort of media or public and or political figure. I do believe that the media has responsibilty to the public to give us the right information and they should be aware of other factors. I found a great article by Heidi Cohen. The factors that she listed are

  1. “Know that your audience consists of real people with broader, more diverse backgrounds than you can imagine. Each individual brings a unique perspective that you might not have considered previously. At a minimum, they deserve your respect for giving you their attention.
  2. Don’t react in haste. In online interactions, people tend to disassociate themselves from the person to whom they’re communicating. We don’t think about the person at the other end when we talk with our fingertips. As a result, people often express opinions that they wouldn’t on the phone or in person. Count to ten to give yourself space to think before you respond, especially when your feelings are raw.
  3. Appreciate that online actions are permanent and can’t be reversed. There is no Undo action for a sent message. Moreover, the Internet never forgets. Any message sent can come back to haunt its sender, usually when it’s least desired.
  4. Understand the context of interactions and content presented. Don’t respond to partial messages. Don’t let your feelings rule. Put the information in perspective and be sure you understand it before responding.
  5. Don’t judge an idea’s quality by the syntax and grammar in which it’s expressed. With a broad audience, the people with whom you engage may not be native speakers of your language or have similar levels of education. Don’t let this detract you from the core of what they’re trying to communicate.
  6. Consider what you’d say face-to-face or in a live group. Don’t blindly follow the group. As your mother taught you, show a level of civility and an understanding for where others may be coming from. Remember you haven’t walked in their shoes.
  7. Don’t spread gossip and hearsay in your quest for your fifteen seconds of fame. Make a positive contribution to the public discourse.
  8. Check your facts before you contribute. Your audience knows more than you do and will call you out for factual errors. Wikipedia is an example of the combined intelligence of the mass. While one person may not be an expert on everything, together they’re very smart with lots of fact checkers who aren’t afraid to correct you.
  9. Stay on point with your contributions. Social media is a conversation, not a lecture. Leave space for others to broaden the discussion and make it richer. Remember it’s a conversation held in a public forum. Be polite and play well with others.
  10. Don’t be self-centered. Don’t bore others with your me-me-me focus and/or promotion overload. It’s the fastest way to clear a forum.  The sweetest thing a person can hear is their name and your sincere interest in them.”

Now if they look over these guidelines and actually follow them, we would be in good shape. But the question still rises about does the media help the parties? Well it is half and half, in my opinion.  the New York Times did a great article of an example why people think the media played a role being bias in this Presidental race. “On Sunday, Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, got right to the point.“It goes without saying that there is definitely media bias,” Mr. Ryan told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think most people in the mainstream media are left of center and, therefore, they want a very left-of-center president versus a conservative president like Mitt Romney.”   Ryan might be right about his statement but as you can remember Romney’s remark about forty-seven percent, it did not help his case. So did the media hype this video for Obama’s sake? I really do not think so. I really think there are some journalists out there who want to spread an act that they should really take in consideration when electing a President. There are many different views about this. But I feel it is their right to provide the public these types of things. One article wrote “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said in the video. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.””Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax,” Romney said, and that his role “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”Romney later told reporters at a news conference called to address the remarks: “It’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question. And I’m sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that.” 

I really do not think that they were being biased. I feel that if Obama said something of that nature, it would be out in the public for us to consider. However, the  past semester, I took a government class that may have alter my view on the media. My professor made my class and I watch a movie that had a political statement about the media and how they can alter our views on a certain subject. The movie is called “Wag the Dog.” To me the movie was kind of like a satire with truth to it.

 “When an unnamed president of the United States is caught in a closed room making advances on an underage “Firefly Girl” (the fictional equivalent of a Girl Scout) less than two weeks before re-election, Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top notch spin-doctor, is brought in to try to take the public attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a fake war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. In order to come up with his ‘war’, he contacts a Hollywood producer named Stanley Motss (Hoffman), who brings in a series of specialists who help construct a theme song, build up interest, and fake some footage of an orphan in Albania.The plan’s setbacks, including an error that led to seizing a criminally insane Army prison convict (Harrelson) to be their “hero” who was “shot down behind enemy lines,” do not disturb Motss, who repeatedly claims “this is nothing” while comparing the situation to past movie-making catastrophes he averted. In the end, with the election having taken place and the president re-elected, everything seems fine until Motss finds out from the news outlets that the media are crediting the president’s win to his tired campaign slogan of “Don’t change horses in mid stream” rather than Motss’s elaborate plans. Motss announces that he will call the media to “set them straight,” despite Brean’s warning that he is “toying with his life.” When Motss refuses to back down, Brean has him killed and makes it look as if he had a heart attack while tanning next to his pool. The film ends with a news report about a violent incident in Albania, but it is unclear whether this is a true event or simply a continuation of the fictional war.” 

The trailer for “Wag The Dog”


One reviewfor the movie states “Wag the Dog is an incredibly witty movie, a rare blend of cynicism, humour, and intelligence. The movie is about a spin doctor working for the Presidential re-election campaign, who must create a situation that will distract the public from the President’s scandalous affairs.

To this end, Conrad Bream (Robert De Niro), the spin doctor, with the help of movie producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman), manages to convince the public, using media manipulation techniques, that America is at war with Albania. The headlines that result from this manipulation soon take precedent over the President’s alleged tryst with a young girl.

Of course, such an elaborate hoax cannot be sustained without others getting in the way, and the movie is about how, despite all odds, Bream and Motss manage to pull it off. The movie chronicles the success of this hoax, with a healthy dose of non-seriousness and humour.

Wag the Dog requires a greater suspension of disbelief than most action movies do: The President stages (the appearance of) a war without any approval from Congress. The President appears to be present in Albania without actually being there and no one raises an eyebrow. Even a country which no one has heard of in the U.S. and the international community would sit quietly during these allegations and be completely ignored by the media. But this exaggerated tale only makes the satire stand out more sharply.

Besides the humour, the areas where Wag the Dog succeeds is in letting us know that the media is in the business of making money, and they will report whatever sells the most product. Likewise, the Presidential campaign is not about the events the occur during a Presidential term, but the spin that is put on them.

The most disturbing thing about Wag the Dog is that it shows how easy it is to whip up the American populace into a frenzy using patriotism as a dangling carrot. Every event conjured up by Bream–the war, the martyr (played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson), the theme songs—are carefully crafted to incite the populace. And the fact of the matter is that the general populace follow the media, even the tabloid kind, like sheep. The “tail” wagging the “dog” symbolises those who control the media, and the “dog” which lets itself be wagged by its own tail are represented by the American people. What Wag the Dog doesn’t show, but what we should realise, is that real life events can be staged more easily than the hoaxes in the movie. Consider, for example, the current escalation of U.S-Iraq rhetoric just as President Clinton facing a series of personal scandals.

The performances are spectacular all around. Both De Niro and Hoffman produce some of their best work. The acting by the supporting cast is also excellent. It is rare for me to notice the music in a movie as I’m watching the movie (exceptions are movies like Star Wars where anthems are created), but in this case, Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) does a brilliant job with his subtle guitar work, especially during the beginning. Don’t miss this one.”

Now the media in the movie pokes fun of the whole scandal with former President Bill Clinton. But the movie does have some truth to it. We, the public, really have no way of finding out the truth. The media has power with any out come. There is no doubt about it. In the movie, it goes to a extreme lengths that media cover the event of disgrace. The media launches it to the public. And we the public are very naive. It is harsh to say but it is the truth when we do not know all the truth. And how do we know the real truth? The answer is simple, we do not. Unless we are in on the truth, we would know. It is hard to say what is the truth  and was is not. Also, it is hard to say if there is a hidden agenda to a story or if the media wants us to be simple minded to what they think it is important. All we have to do is keep an open mind on what we watch and try not to believe everything we read or hear.

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