False memories of fabricated political events [ABSTRACT]. In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions. [FULL TEXT PDF AVAILABLE HERE] [more inside]
From 1935 to 1951, Time Magazine bridged the gap between print & radio news reporting and the new visual medium of film, with March of Time: award-winning newsreel reports that were a combination of objective documentary, dramatized fiction and pro-American, anti-totalitarian propaganda. They “often tackled subjects and themes that audiences weren’t used to seeing — foreign affairs, social trends, public-health issues — and did so with a combination of panache and subterfuge that today seems either absurd or visionary.” (Previous two links have autoplaying video.) By 1937, the short films were being seen by as many as 26 million people every month and may have helped steer public opinion on numerous issues, including (eventually) America’s entry to WWII. Video samples are available at Time.com, the March of Time Facebook page and the entire collection is available online, (free registration required) at HBO Archives. [more inside]
Gawker's John Cook yesterday published an exclusive report on a trove of documents from the Nixon Presidential Library tracing the development of Fox News to a 1970 internal memo annotated by then-consultant Roger Ailes. Part of a 318-page cache of similar documents, the memo -- "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News" -- called for the creation of a strongly pro-Nixon news outlet operated from the White House which would disseminate partisan news packages free of charge to local affiliates across the country. By coordinating release of these targeted reports with allied politicians and duping opponents into hostile interviews, Ailes hoped to bypass the "prejudices of network news" -- a desire which led him to advocate for some unexpected political policies at the time, from campaign finance reform to anti-poverty efforts. The report comes as Fox is waging an aggressive two-front PR war with perceived ideological enemies -- calling on viewers to file IRS complaints against Media Matters' tax-exempt status for their dogged fact-checking of the network, while on-air hosts launched a campaign to label Jon Stewart "racist" after he called out their record of falsehoods following a critical interview with Chris Wallace (previously).
Slate has introduced a tool to analyze the news sites you read online. The tool is based on a paper that studied ideological isolation in news consumption online and off. It analyzes your history to determine which sites you read and looks at readership data to determine how much of an echo chamber, if any, your choice of news sources creates. [more inside]
"The symbiotic relationship between the press and the power elite worked for nearly a century. It worked as long as our power elite, no matter how ruthless or insensitive, was competent. But once our power elite became incompetent and morally bankrupt, the press, along with the power elite, lost its final vestige of credibility." "The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News" by Chris Hedges.
Fox News is the most trusted news network in the United States, according to a new poll [.pdf] of 1,151 Americans conducted by Public Policy Polling (a polling firm with a mostly Democratic and progressive list of clients), the most trusted news network among Americans is FOX News, which was trusted by 49% of respondents (beating out CNN, MS-NBC, CBS, NBC, and ABC (though PBS was not included in the survey)). The pollsters conclude: “A generation ago you would have expected Americans to place their trust in the most neutral and unbiased conveyors of news,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But the media landscape has really changed and now they’re turning more toward the outlets that tell them what they want to hear.”
Fox News's bent on the news is well known, but recently the White House has begun actively excluding the network, including skipping Fox's Chris Wallace on a recent round of Sunday morning news shows. “We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction ... that Fox is a traditional news organization.” says White House Depty Communications Director Pfeiffer (as has Press Secretary Gibbs and others). The responses range from concern about an attempt to control the media to a feeling that it's about time. Is it just about Fox's anti-Obama pundits, or is it also about Fox's consistent errors and misinformed viewership? Or is the White House attempting containment so that Fox's ratings-gold style and ideas don't take over the rest of the press?
Maybe the world isn't as good as this (more on that), but there's still ... good news, everyone! [more inside]
This NY Observer article gives some insight to the validity of Debka as a news source. It fails to confirm or deny the site's legitimacy either way, but it does mention that some of its reports later showed up in mainstream media. While the owners of the site admit that Debka has an Israeli bias, they go on to say, "You can imagine that officials in Israel, who are in charge of whatever they call it, information, propaganda or whatever, they don’t like us very much." Has China really sent 15,000 troops to afghanistan to fight on the side of the taliban? I guess we'll find out sooner or later.