This study updates methods of communication analysis popular in the period between the world wars in an effort to analyze news commentator Bill O’Reilly’s ‘‘Talking Points Memo’’ editorials. The results show that O’Reilly is a heavier and less nuanced user of the seven devices developed by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in the late 1930s than the notorious radio commentator of that time, Father Charles Coughlin. O’Reilly also employs other propaganda techniques, identified by Lasswell, Berelson and Janowitz. This includes ample use of fear appeals and the construction of the battle between good and evil. The most evil villains in O’Reilly’s world are illegal aliens, terrorists, and foreigners because they are apparently a physical and moral threat to the United States. Slightly less evil -- but unambiguously bad -- are groups (media, organizations, politicians) who share a political leaning to the left. On the other side, the virtuous flank emerged as an all-American crew made up of the military, criminal justice system, Bush administration, and ordinary US citizens.
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It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Awww! Poor O'Reilly. This is a study in Bill O'Reilly's propagandistic techniques: