Friday, June 21, 2013

The Medium

Last week the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism published a study that concludes what every conservative knows and affirms but that every progressive knows and denies:

The mainstream media overwhelming provided support for same sex marriage.

The study took place between March 18 and May 12 as the Supreme Court began hearings on two cases involving same sex marriage. The study examined about 500 news stories. According to the report, which you can find here, the mainstream media broadcast pieces that included statements supporting same sex marriage over those that opposed same sex marriage by a margin of five to one. The survey took place at the time the Supreme Court began hearings on cases involving same sex marriage.

According to the report, 47% of the stories focused on support for same sex marriage, 9% featured the opposition, and 44% appeared neutral or presented both sides of the issues. Broken down by outlet confirmed what most already knew and a few surprises. At MSNBC the respective figures were 64% proponents, 6% opponents, and 30% mixed or neutral. At FOX News, the alleged bastion of conservatism among mainstream media outlets, the breakdown was 29% proponents, 8% opponents, and 63% mixed or neutral.

The Pew reported separated social media for traditional news outlets. At Twitter, the numbers showed 31% supported same sex marriage, 28% opposed, and 42% neutral or mixed.

This confirms that view of most conservatives that this movement, like many movements both conservative and liberal,  remains driven by  elites-- in this case those in the mainstream media.

Its difficult to assess the influence of the media. In these days of multiple cable outlets, most views probably can and do find outlets that confirm their own perspectives on the political and social issues of the day. But there has been a swing in public opinion in support of same sex marriage. I do think this change can be attributed to cogent philosophical arguments. Most pieces feature the usual pundits bloviating on one side of the issue or the other,or they present a human interest angle on some devoted lesbian couple who has been denied their "right" to marry for the 20 years they have been together. It  more closely resembles  the old "bandwagon" technique of propaganda. When so many stories appear on so many outlets and so one sided in perspective, it does contribute to a growing conformity.

This becomes clearer when one examines "the message" in the next post.

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