MAINSTREAM MEDIA'S "SNAFFLES" & "CURBS"
By Debra Rae
December 26, 2007
Admittedly, I’m no equestrian; even so, I understand that a rider depends on a bit to direct and, then, control her horse’s activities. A bit is defined by the way it puts pressure on the horse’s mouth—whether by direct pressure or by leverage. Bits that act with direct pressure on the tongue and lips are called “snaffle” bits, and those with shanks and leverage are called “curb” bits.
So why the horse talk? As I see it, the analogy applies when analyzing the function and impact of the mainstream media. By applying leverage, even direct pressure, the media in all its varied facets guides and, in countless ways, captures and controls the American public. Our media’s “snaffles” and “curbs” “rein in” a rapt audience who feed indiscriminately on its limited, but otherwise compelling offerings.
To illustrate this point, Phil Mitchell recounted a story in Limiting the Marketplace of Ideas. In answer to the question, “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?” this explanation followed: First, you distribute corn on the ground at a suitable place in the woods. When the pigs find it, they feed on it daily until the habit becomes established, at which time the catcher constructs a section of a fence. Once the pigs get used to the fence, the entire process is repeated until all four sides of the fence are raised and connected. Its gate allows continued, uninterrupted access until the catcher slams it shut and thereby imprisons the entire herd. The “reined in” pigs soon become comfortable with their captivity and, over time, they accept it.
Revisiting my equestri-analogy, leather straps or ropes attached to the outer ends of bits are called reins. These extend to the rider’s hands, thus enabling her to issue commands known as “rein aids.” Accordingly, “to rein in” involves restraining, slowing down, controlling or in other ways restricting one’s horse—in our analogy, the American public. This pretty much describes the ensnared who habitually feed on popular culture as portrayed by the mainstream media.
I said all that to say this: Through the decades, the unwitting public has been “reigned in” by a media conglomerate that restrains a vast marketplace of competing ideas. In the end, those targeted are restricted to a conditioned diet that media moguls control. Try reading some mainstream newspapers, magazines and publications. If still unconvinced, take in a big-screen movie or two.
You’ll be hard pressed to argue my point.
Propaganda specialist Dr. Kelton Rhoads advises industry, government and defense agencies regarding principles of influence. In so doing, he differentiates between “polemic” and “narrative” discourse. The former is exemplified in “fair and balanced” banter on cable news programs purporting to debate opposite sides of an issue.
In contrast, particularly when presented in the form of docudrama, narrative discourse hoodwinks the unsuspecting into abandoning their defenses and drinking whatever Kool-Aide is offered. What author-attorney James Hirsen refers to as op-ed “crock-umentaries” function as dandy “rein aids” to leftist causes of liberalism, secularism and partisanship.
For example, a 2004 Lions Gate Production, called Fahrenheit 911, thoroughly entertained and, then, baited the gullible with half-truths cleverly intermixed with outright prevarication. If this doesn’t ring true to you, answer this: Why did the Hezbollah eagerly endorse Moore’s piece (perhaps for the purpose of recruitment)?
Having debated Moore at the Telluride Film Festival, a columnist for Vanity Fair Christopher Hitchens renamed Moore’s piece Unfair-enheit 9/11 if only for its factual flaws. Keep in mind that, in his own words, Higgins is “not a conservative of any kind.” Yet he nailed his nemesis’ antics. Though at times amusing, Moore’s vitriolic, one-sided exposé of the George W. Bush White House merely masqueraded as journalism. Hitchens rightly concluded that “correct politics and smooth media presentation are not even distant cousins”; Moore proved it.
After blasting General Motors, America’s gun culture, and the War on Terrorism, Moore then took on America’s ailing health care system. Purportedly pious, he even quoted Scripture. In the name of Christian charity, Moore escorted 9/11 heroes to Guantanamo Bay in communist Cuba where each received well-deserved medical attention allegedly beyond reach in the “land of the free.”
Later, Fox News Network challenged Moore’s incredulously glowing portrayal of Cuba’s free, universal health care in Sick-o. Though depicted by Moore as gentle, patriarchal Marcus Welbys of sorts, Cuban doctors in reality are deeply disgruntled when forced to work in Venezuela and, then, surrender 80% of their earnings to Big Government.
Pressure applied by the likes of Michael Moore takes on characteristics of a “snaffle” bit—this, by deliberately skewing facts in support of a decidedly liberal agenda. Other media docudramas apply leverage by exploiting the “curb” bit (a sort of velvet hammer). For three nights last August, Christiane Amanpour did just that by relaying stories of God’s Warriors.
Portrayal of Jewish and Christian faith in God’s Warriors was restricted to religious flashpoints responsible for inciting violence among cultures and nations. Correctly so, the CAMERA report paired Amanpour’s program with classical propaganda for its “pejorative labeling, generalities, testimonials, and a stacked lineup of guests.” “Propaganda,” the report concluded, is “the opposite of journalism.” The latter presents facts directly with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
God’s Warriors provides yet another media narrative that neglected and/or undermined an entire marketplace of ideas, many of which are credited for the West’s triumph. For one, a free market system based on biblical principles—namely, respect for rule of law, individual effort, and fair-dealing; and one mustn’t overlook Bible-based faith, traditional family and right to life.
By lumping Christians and Jews with Muslim fundamentalist “warriors for God,” evangelicals get a bad rap. It should come as no surprise to learn that young non-Christians are eight times less likely to experience positive associations toward evangelicals today than were Boomers in years past.
When introduced into prime-time sit-coms, or big-screen productions, characters representing people of faith are more likely than not to push limits of the word “stupid.” The written media likewise portrays believers as war-mongering, repressed, mean-spirited, Bible-thumping bigots unmoved by human suffering.
While self-sacrificial servants of the Gospel are relegated to obscurity, fallen clergy lead the evening news as if they were human prey dangled before vultures.
This Halloween season, the above portrait of Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter promised to spook members of the mainstream media. To them, it’s that scary!
Denounced by Bill Moyer for his alleged “stubborn, ignorant denial of complexity,” O’Reilly hosts the most-watched program on cable news. His is a self-proclaimed “no-spin zone.” Colleague Coulter is no slave to conciliation. Today’s journalism’s standards are comparable, she quips, to the world’s oldest one.
To some, O’Reilly comes off as arrogant—Coulter as sassy—but traits as these, no matter how annoying, shouldn’t command the reigns of censorship. But not everyone agrees. There exists an international organization dedicated exclusively to exposing Bill O’Reilly as “an ego-driven, biased individual who spreads fear, hate and misunderstanding.” To the disgruntled, O’Reilly’s views are ostensibly “anchored firmly to the political right.” Never mind that O’Reilly’s registered as an Independent; group members stubbornly maintain that he’s “completely nuts” and, therefore, needs to be silenced.
Characterized as a sort of “mini-skirted Rush Limbaugh,” or the “softer side of Savage,” Coulter is also juxtaposed as the political opposite of Michael Moore. Both have a flair for inflammatory discourse. Both use hyperbole and satire that, at the very least, raise eyebrows, if not public awareness; and both receive heat for factual snafus.
The primary difference between these two, as I see it, is that when Coulter kicks metaphorical sand in the faces of liberal pundits—e.g., contributors to the New York Times editorial page—she makes no bones about it. With tongue-in-cheek, Coulter calls herself “a Christian first and a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative second.”
To Ann Coulter, being a Christian means that she is called to battle “lies, injustice, cruelty and hypocrisy”—all of which, she charges, define “virtues in the church of liberalism.” This, my friend, is classic Coulter!
In like fashion, Michael Moore tags supporters of the GOP (Coulter, for one) as “people who fight, smear, lie, and hate”–you know, “right-wingers” who are “up at six in the morning trying to figure out which minority group they’re going to screw today.”
Neither Coulter nor Moore ranks high on the “Nicey-Nice” list. But it’s the former who took a pie in the face—literally! Moreover, media elitists criticized over forty citations within Coulter’s book, Slander. The upshot of Coulter’s treachery, they reasoned, is that “casual” readers are certain to be misled by her scathing accusation of liberal bias in the mainstream media, coupled with unfair representation of conservatism.
Media sages apparently presume the American public to be dismally inept at analysis; their job, it seems, is to protect the dim-witted from the likes of Coulter. With impunity, they trivialize Coulter’s citations as no more than excerpts from anecdotal commentaries that fail to support her trivialized claims.
On the other hand, true-to-form liberal bastions as The New York Times and the Washington Post praise Moore for his sharp “populist instincts” and “admirable forbearance.” Counterparts at the networks gave Coulter the boot! They apparently took offense at her allegation that network morning news affects the news by not reporting it!
While Coulter’s causticity was deemed “dangerous,” Moore’s was distinguished at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts where this albeit caustic “man of the people” was honored to join former President Jimmy Carter and wife in their Presidential box seat. For part two click below.
Click here for paert -----> 2,
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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.
While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.
Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Web Site: www.debraraebooks.com
Through the decades, the unwitting public has been “reigned in” by a media conglomerate that restrains a vast marketplace of competing ideas. In the end, those targeted are restricted to a conditioned diet that media moguls control.