Do you sometimes feel the media are manipulating us?
They’re supposed to be fairly and accurately reporting the news, right? But there are a lot of selective and deliberate things they do that can influence perception.
Let’s look at some of these tactics, using women as an example. In this country, women cover the full range of the political spectrum: liberal, conservative, and of course, somewhere in the middle. All of those groups are worth treating fairly, but that’s not how the media make it seem.
Omission: If a glossy fashion magazine features a political figure, carefully coiffed, dressed, lit, and airbrushed, with a story full of admiration and designed to make her life story inspirational, triumphing over obstacles to make the world a better place – it is nearly always a liberal.
Conservative women? They’re just not there. The first time a first lady was on the cover of Vogue magazine, the honor went to Hillary Clinton. Also making that cut was Michelle Obama, multiple times. But no cover for Barbara Bush, Laura Bush or Melania Trump.
The women’s magazine, Marie Claire, published an article headlined “50 Influential Women and Why They’re Voting in the 2018 Midterm Elections.” You guessed it -- not a single conservative or supporter of President Trump was on the list.
Marginalization: Marginalization is a variation of omission. You’ve seen these stories too -- extolling many women, all liberal, and then a token reference to one conservative so that journalists can claim they are being fair. Nope, that’s not fair or balanced.
Mocking: We often see coverage that slams the appearance of conservatives and ignores their ideas.
Leading Republican women have been mocked and body shamed in the media. Comedians call Kellyanne Conway “Satan’s trophy wife.” Is that really funny?
Mocking is a form of objectification. Its purpose is to shame and silence and not deal with someone on their merits. It’s an easy excuse not to engage with their ideas.
Labeling: The purpose of labeling is to reduce someone to a stereotype and dehumanize them. It removes agency or human standing. Remember the claims that conservative women vote as they do because their husbands tell them to? Vogue and The Guardian said women who vote Republican must be racist or cruel.
Recall the claims that conservative women are traitors to their sex, misogynists, and don’t even count as women? How about the assumption that they are uncaring haters -- you know the litany: racist, homophobic, privileged.
The labels are chosen to imply that you don’t have to pay attention to what they think or say, and you wouldn’t like them if you met them. And it’s all done to chill thought and make sure that other women don’t want to have that said about them.
Given the extremely different treatment that Republican and Democratic women receive, is it really such a surprise that fewer women ran for office as Republicans than as Democrats?
The media don’t just put down conservative women; they also elevate women on the left.
There are several techniques used to make someone more appealing.
Glamorize: For liberal females, it’s always the best shot, picked by a friendly editor, to make women of the left look their best.
The media tend to create a new trend to reframe a story when Democratic women are not fashionable or need a news angle to shift.
For example, Hillary’s Clinton’s pantsuits were turned into a cool fashion trend and ultimately a movement called Pantsuit Nation. Same for Nancy Pelosi’s red “power” coat, deemed a must-have after her immigration meeting with President Trump.
Damage Control: The media kick into damage control mode when a female Democrat faces criticism for something said or done. If the issue isn’t known, they bury and ignore it. If it is likely to be known, they front run it and later claim it is old news. And if it comes out awkwardly, it gets reframed and dismissed.
Think of Hillary Clinton’s email destruction; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on “Medicare-for-all;” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez., D-N.Y., saying facts don’t matter; excuses and the initial defense of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., when she claimed Native American heritage; or anti-Semitic comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
Promotion: Let’s not forget a common media practice to aggrandize -- both with the quantity of coverage and the elevating quality of it. Why was the March on Washington called the Women’s March? Most women don’t support the march’s far-left agenda.
An objective media would have pointed out that it was really a progressive rally, but they didn’t. Assuming that women on the left speak for all women is a common media theme that is never questioned.
It’s become a cliché to say we need more civility. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Certainly, there’s plenty of blame to go around for how we’ve gotten here. But, as I recently discussed in a video for PragerU, the left and the media should consider how marginalizing, shaming and demeaning conservative women who don’t agree with them make our country worse.
If you agree, call them out when you see it. Share examples with your friends. We will all be better for it.