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Saturday, May 29, 2004

News and opinion junkies understand this concept well - that the prevailing, even so-called "unbiased" news falls into a sort of "narrative" rythm. "They" make sure we know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are and what stories are important. Many of the purveyors of the news may not even understand that they do this - their bias is just the prevailing opinion within their circles. Others are outright liars, activists posing as unbiased conveyors of information.

Many of us see through it, and to a large extent that explains the success of news sources like FOX, and opinion sources like Limbaugh. This British journalist understands. (hat tip: mal)

Telegraph | Opinion | My childish view of a nasty America is still popular

As with most British people, my first impressions of America were formed by television. For my family in the 1960s, this meant the BBC alone. We had one of those "snobbish" televisions, not unusual at that time, that could not get the only other channel, ITV. And the BBC in America at that time meant Charles Wheeler. With his highly educated voice, shock of white hair (I think it was white even then), serious spectacles and face of lean intelligence, he was the perfect posh broadcaster. I believed every word he said.

I still think Wheeler is an excellent journalist and a clever man. But what I - and presumably millions of others - were hearing from him and the BBC was a particular narrative about America. This was that there were good, liberal people who believed in civil rights. If they were white, the good ones came from the northern states and never spoke about religion.

If they were black, the good ones came from the southern states and spoke about religion a lot. These good people were fighting oppression, whether of black people or of the people of Vietnam. The hero was Senator Eugene McCarthy, who failed to get the Democratic nomination in 1968.

The oppressors, the bad people, wanted war and racial segregation. They were fat and ugly and always white and liked having guns. The villain was Governor George Wallace of Alabama, who stood as an independent in the same election, and believed in segregation. The pictures of him that appeared always showed his face darkened with what we were supposed to think of as racial hatred...


Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: The Narrative.

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"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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