If you knew that the news media was manipulating your mind, would that concern you?
And they are.
The news media decides what to report, and – more importantly – how to report it. The media controls what the public sees, hears, and ultimately believes.
This should concern every police officer in every department. When viewers repeatedly see and hear on the news that cops are shooting unarmed African American males, the subconscious mind registers that cops kill unarmed African American males. People form beliefs based on what they are repeatedly exposed to.
What is equally concerning is what the public doesn’t see or hear – because the news consistently fails to report both sides of an issue.
If Americans heard the true fact that an officer is severely injured or killed in the line of duty every day, the brain would register that police work is extraordinarily risky and that officers must be incredibly brave to perform their jobs every day.
Let’s consider contemporary examples of how the news media chose to report the news.
A recent incident saw a number of officers, all with 20+ years of experience, in a standoff with a man who wanted to commit suicide by cop. He had a large towel wrapped around his hand and maintained he was concealing what looked like a gun. His mother had called in and stated that the man had a gun and wanted to be killed by the police.
SWAT was alerted to the situation. Officers verbally engaged the man from proper positions of cover.
The man was lured from his house with the promise of food and water. When he emerged, one officer tased the man with absolutely no effect, despite two good prong hits. Then, another officer repeatedly struck the man with rounds from a bean bag shotgun. During this entire ordeal, a third officer kept his rifle aimed at the man.
The man finally gave up. He did not have a weapon.
This incident did not make the local or national news. None of the neighbors posted videos on social media or sold their videos to the news media. No TV cameras or news people made it to the scene.
An officer told his sergeant, “If we had shot him, and he wasn’t armed, this would be all over the news and the internet.”
These officers risked their lives to save this man, who stated his goal was to die by police fire. The officers were patient and did not hurry – a fact they attributed to their years on the job.
This event demonstrates how the news media manipulates the narrative and controls what people think or believe by selective reporting.
The media could have reported on this incident and highlighted the fine job these officers did to keep everyone safe. They chose not to, and repeatedly choose not to break these stories time and time again.
Meanwhile, in Galveston, Texas, two mounted officers escorted a suspect who was on foot with a tether attached to his cuffs. Photos and video of the incident went viral. It made the local, national, and even global news. This method of escorting prisoners is a standard for mounted officers – a fact that most news outlets failed to report. The prisoner wasn’t hurt. No shots were fired. But the incident, which was captured on a citizen’s cell phone, made a huge splash.
In San Antonio, a border protection officer came under fire from a passing vehicle. Agents came close to being hit. The incident didn’t garner any national attention or mention in the news. Nothing swept across the internet, and there was no national outrage.
The media has barely reported on the heroic actions of law enforcement during the mass shootings in Dayton, El Paso, Odessa, and Midland. Their heroism hasn’t gone viral around the globe.
Media corporations understand that the public constructs their opinions based on what they are exposed to on broadcast news and the internet. When all the public hears is negative stories about cops, what do you think gets cemented in their memory banks?
Once people have formed their beliefs, it is hard for them to change their way of thinking.
This is no accident on the part of the media. They commonly break stories that suit their agenda and politics.
Listen closely to the words used in news reports. Listen to the way the news is reported. Be cognizant of word choice when you read a newspaper. These stories are constructed carefully to make you feel and believe a certain way.
What some have called “media malpractice” is rampant on the airwaves and across the web. The concept is not new.
Famed broadcaster Walter Cronkite taught a class in the 1970s about consumer journalism. He stated that the public must be wary of what they consume because every news story is told with a political agenda. Producers and editors want you to feel a certain way and believe a certain “truth”.
We will not be able to wipe out media malpractice. All we can control is how we consume the news and how we educate others about ingesting what they see or hear.
Watch, listen, and read with the knowledge that each word spoken or sentence written was meant to manipulate what and how you think. And this article is no exception. I am hoping that it might prompt you to raise your awareness and always question motivation.
It’s true that there are often two sides to every story. However, we have a real problem on our hands when we only see one side of one type of story.
©2019 Barbara A. Schwartz. All Rights Reserved.
This article first appeared on www.calibrepress.com and is reprinted with permission of Calibre Press and the author.