"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More ABC News Distortion To Be Included in My Curriculum

More evidence of ABC's deliberate misreporting of the impact of Ron Paul's Presidential candidacy. Take a look at the following video - it's on several sites on the Web, and Ron Paul supporter Andrew Pankin called it my attention this morning:

The "story" portrayed in this video clip is that Ron Paul supporters at Monday's Iowa debate were many in contrast to Mitt Romney's, who were represented by a few signs and even fewer supporters, but ABC's "Photos: Iowa GOP Debate Recap" shows lots of cheering Romney supporters, in contrast to a lone Ron Paul supporter, with a placard and an umbrella.

Let's give Mitt Romney supporters the benefit of the doubt, to see how clearly ABC News distorted its Ron Paul coverage. Let's assume Romney did have a lot of cheering supporters, who did not make it into the clip of the cheering Ron Paul supporters (not surprising, since Ron Paul's supporters made the clip).

But whatever the number of Mitt Romney supporters, why on Earth did ABC choose to show just one Ron Paul supporter? What purpose could that serve, other than giving the American people the wrong impression?

Crowd coverage at political rallies is always an activity bristling with pitfalls - even the most honest news coverage could point a camera in a direction that misses something important. But there is no way the photo of the single Ron Paul supporter could have been an accidental oversight of the cheering crowd.

We learned a lot of things in the twentieth-century about totalitarian societies, and what makes them possible. George Orwell got it sadly right in his 1984 novel, in which the dictatorial party in power controls the people by literally removing disliked officials from photos in newspapers.

I was not in Iowa on Monday, and thus can not offer any direct testimony as to the size of the crowds. But if ABC did what it looks like it did in the video - if it deliberately gave the impression that Ron Paul had just one supporter when in fact he had many - then ABC should know that it has acted in the tradition of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, in the dangerous deceptive manner of totalitarian societies not democracies.

I will have another example of media misconduct to teach to my class this Fall, which I would be happier not having at all. For ABC News, this represents the third strike: removing comments of Ron Paul supporters, misreporting the results of its own poll, making Ron Paul's supporters look fewer than they really were. When will it end?

Paul Levinson, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Communication and Media Studies
Fordham University

See also - ABC's Abuse of American Electorate to Be Included in my Curriculum This Fall

and Newspaper Coverage of Ron Paul in Iowa: B+


Anonymous said...

As bad as ABC is, CBS and NBC are worse -- the next minute of Ron Paul coverage they provide will be their first.

Anonymous said...

I received an email from one of my meetup members, he said that the MSNBC video contest has been 'changed'. The two Ron Paul videos were @ #1 and 2... now are in last place.

Time to start writing and calling these clowns, too!

Do they not know, or do they not care that tens of thousands of people are watching them do this blatant manipulation against Dr. Paul?

I wish I could say unbelieveable. Sadly, it's so very expected....

Paul Levinson said...

anon1: good point

anon2: I'll certainly keep writing about every news organization I find out about that's doing this kind of damage...

Anonymous said...

Check CNN's one photo of the NH debate -- the one with all the rally goers standing behind the big puddle.

Oh sure, there are about 20-40 people each for Rudy, Mitt, etc...but they completely cut out 400 Ron Paul supporters to the right of the rest.

I can't find the photo on their site at the moment but I have a copy of it if you wish me to send to you.

Joel and Stacey said...

My fiance and I made it to the Ron Paul Rally that took place at Des Moines when Dr. Paul was excluded from the Iowa Tax Forum. We personally estimated 900 or so folks were there, others estimated 1000 or so. I was surprised to see articles saying around half of that number. I'm really disappointed to see this happening over and over in different ways now.

Anyway, if you watch the video again, you'll see that there are several Mitt Romney supporters in there.

Anonymous said...

To Contact ABC about the media minipulation


MC said...

Ron Paul is the Larry Agran of 2008.

Paul Levinson said...

anon1 - yes, I'd like to see that picture - if you could e-mail it to me at Levinson.paul at gmail.com that would be good (or, if you e-mail me, I'll reply with my address at Fordham where you can send it)

joel - ah, yes, I think I do see one Romney supporter close to the beginning of the clip ... I'll add a note to my post about it ... thanks

anon2: thanks

matt! good to see you here!

Paul Levinson said...

Back to the first comment, about NBC having no coverage of Ron Paul: I do see that MSNBC has two Ron Paul commercials in their user-generated homeade videos (with voting for which you like best) - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19858606

Anonymous said...

I sort of stumbled on your blog while looking up some things on google, and I have to say, Dr. Levinson, it's easily one of the better ones I've seen.

Not only interesting, informative, and funny at times...but you've also got pretty great taste in tv shows.

One point - you say that television is in a golden age at the moment. I definitely agree, but it's interesting that most of the shows you talk about (Rome, The Tudors, Dexter, Weeds, Sopranos) are on HBO & Showtime.

Meanwhile, it seems a lot of major network shows seem to have been struggling (even Lost & Heroes have had their missteps over the past season).

So, are these shows on HBO & great because they're not subject to the same restrictions as networks shows? Is it that much harder to have a good show on network television? And is it moreso because of censorship (you certainly wouldn't see some of Polly Walker's better scenes in Rome on Fox) or because Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, have to play (as you've mentioned) to the lowest common denominator?

Are we reaching a point where quality tv shows on cable & premium channels might eclipse the networks?

I had you for Intro. to Communications several years ago - and I really do wish I'd been able to take more classes with you.

Hope you've been enjoying the summer, and all is well.

-Andrew Goodrich '05

An old throwback to the sixties said...

Interstingly, NPR's Morning Edition had a pretty good piece on Ron yestderday morning.

Paul Levinson said...

Andrew - glad you came by, and hope you'll continue reading and commenting in Infinite Regress!

Yes, I think that although the networks still have some remaining powwer (as seen in Lost and Heroes, which, even though they stumbled at times, still had enormous impact last season), the cutting edge is clearly with cable ... and, in a few years, we'll be watching series that originate online, as the Web will move into cable's territory with new series...

(Almost like being in Intro to Comm and Media Studies, huh...:)

old-throwback - thanks for the info - one of the good things about NPR is that it's always been separate from the corporate lockstep of the TV news networks...

hipposelect said...

Mr. Levinson, considering the subject matter here, I just have to throw my $.02 in. This morning, in the great San Diego newspaper, the Union Tribune, they had coverage of the Ames event. Hungry to see how Ron Paul's showing was reported in this rag, I read it through. SO unbiased and thorough was the report, that I scanned it in and here in the report on the results of the poll, taken verbatim from the paper:

Romney scored 4,516 votes, or 31.5 percent to outpace former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck abee, who had 2,587 votes, or 18.1 percent. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback was third with 2,192 votes, or 15.3 percent. Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine came in ninth of 11 candidates, with 174 votes.
But the biggest loser likely was former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who finished in sixth place with 1,039 votes. He lad said repeatedly that if he didn't finish in the top two, his canpaign was likely to end. He left the event before the results were announced, and there was no announcement from his campaign.
The missing big names got only a handful of votes.
Former Sea. Fred Thompson of Tennessee got 203 votes. He was on the ballot, though he is not an officially declared candidate.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani received 183 votes, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona got 101.

Notice anything interesting about this blurb re: Ron Paul?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Levinson, you wrote: “Let's assume Romney did have a lot of cheering supporters, who did not make it into the clip of the cheering Ron Paul supporters (not surprising, since Ron Paul's supporters made the clip).”

I was the person who filmed this and made the clip, while it is true that I am a Ron Paul supporter (who drove up from Houston for a week of campaigning) I can tell you to the best of my knowledge there were no other Romney supporters other than those who were included in the video I presented- I was simply walking the length of the sidewalk / street and filming. You can note that the picture used by ABC includes the same Romney supporters in my video. There were several people edited out before and after the first clip, all were Ron Paul supporters- there were however more Romney signs edited out and one Rudy sign too.

If it could be of any value to your media studies curriculum I would be more than happy to send you all the raw footage on DVD. I can best be contacted via my youtube profile: http://www.youtube.com/bryanxt

FYI, the original video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoeoc-E9DXk
The video above is one of a few direct copies made.


BTW- For anyone interested, a Ron Paul friendly editing of the events can be seen here- in this case you shouldn't be surprised to only see Dr. Paul supporters :) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6pGHwJr4zE