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« Chuck Todd Laughs off Benghazi Scandal; Calls Administration's Reaction "Very Rational" | Main | Bryan Preston Now Live-Blogging the Benghazi Hearings, for Free »
May 08, 2013

Washington Post Breaks Benghazi Scandal Wide Open

You're weird and fringe if you're tweeting about Benghazi, a study shows.

Thanks to Demographics Pro, a Twitter analysis firm, we have some vague idea of who’s tweeting the most: According to their report, #Benghazi tweeters are 58.3% male, with an average age of 52.6 years and a median income of $61,800 (“within the top 20 percent of overall Twitter distribution,” the report adds).

The tweeters are also overwhelmingly white and married, according to Demographics Pro; they also like Chick-fil-A and Walmart — two brands most often associated with conservatives.

I wonder what Demographics Pro would say about people tweeting about gay marriage or gun control?

This is an extremely obvious and odious media tactic -- to portray those on its political side as Just Like You, and those on the opposite side as Not Like You. The Other.

Whenever the media covers an anti-war protest or a pro-choice rally, they throw out a diverse rainbow of descriptions of attendees.

You've seen this sentence a thousand times before: "They come from all walks of life -- grandmothers, young mothers, carpet installation workers, policemen, soldiers, teachers, doctors, retirees, college students, and the occasional activist."

Note that what that description of the attendees of a leftwing event is attempting to do -- by throwing out a very broad spectrum of the human experience and associating it with the cause, it is attempting to make you see yourself in the people there, to trigger some feeling of empathy, of sympatico, to see that these people are your neighbors, your coworkers, your family and your friends.

They're Just Like You.

But when the media is hostile to a cause, it attempts the exact opposite. It attempts to paint the supporters of a cause to which it is hostile in the most reductivist and restricted demographic terms possible. They attempt to paint these people as a very narrow sliver of the human experience, so that as few people as possible will see themselves in it.

This is the Not Like You treatment.

This is how they describe the Tea Party -- "overwhelmingly white and older, and poorer than the average." Actually that's how they first reported the Tea Party, assuming that they were poor (because of the liberal bias in the assumption, as first announced by the Washington Post, that the Christian right was "poor, uneducated, and easily led").

Once they discovered that the Tea Party was wealthier than average, the standard description became "overwelmingly white, older, and richer than the average American."

"Poorer" just disappeared from the narrative. Why? Because noting that the Tea Party was represented by those from a range of economic situations would be the Just Like You treatment -- casting a wide net -- and the media was determined to give them the Not Like You treatment, with as small a net as possible.

Thus, the Tea Party is either going to be pigeon-holed as Poorer Than You (and hence Not Like You) or Richer Than You (and also Not Like You), but in no case will they allowed to have a broad range of wealth levels, because then one of those wealth levels might strike a chord with a reader, and the media will not allow that.

They're Not Like You. They are this very narrow range of human variations of which you are not a part.

In Hollywood terms -- they're "not relatable." The left is always "very relatable."

This is how Hollywood signals who is the hero and who is the villain -- the hero is always given a character tag which is widely shared by a great number of people, whereas the villain is strange. The hero has attributes that invite the audience to identify with him; the villain is given attributes to guarantee that they will not.

Look at these silver-haired retired schoolteachers, young Latino construction workers, junior archery league champions, etc., who represent the left. They're Just Like You -- there are so many different varieties of them surely you see yourselves somewhere in the mix. They're relatable heroes.

Now, as I say, the media could promote this sort of thing -- pigeonholing the average gun-control advocate as urban, liberal, atheist, and either poor and uneducated or having an advanced degree and/or much wealthier than average (not like the average person), or they could pigeonhole the "average" gay rights supporter as either an urban upscale trend-following gay male or an urban upscale middle-aged white woman.

But they don't. This reduction of a broad swath of human experience into a single mockable demographic stereotype is a treatment given only to the right.

Just Like You versus Not Like You -- one of the most common, cheap, obvious and vicious tactics of bias in the media's playbook.

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posted by Ace at 01:07 PM

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