Thorsday Thunderbolt: Fie on Thee, Sensationalism!

Mjolnir_the_Mighty_Hammer_of_ThorGreetings again fine warriors! Tis the one Surly Thor here for another weekly dose of Asgardian wisdom. This week Surly Thor would like to speak on the subject of sensationalism and why oft the truth doth not make for good stories. One would think such a black and white concept of truth would see more play in this day and age on Midgard, yet for some odd reason unknown to The Prince of Asgard the truth hath more shades of grey than a popular trashy novel. But tis neither here nor there, Surly Thor will now show how the media likes to use sensationalism to bend a topic to their own whims in order to either sell papers or get hits on an article.
.
Let’s take this headline for example, “Can a President Who Has Promised to Stand with the Muslims Protect Americans?” The article doth come from the website American Thinker on April 23rd of this year. The article goes on to quote the President as saying should the political winds turn ugly he would stand with the Muslims, and it rambles on for several paragraphs about how this means doom for America. Verily tis terrifying in that context, a sleeper agent waiting in the wings to pull a Shyamalan-ian twist and hand all of thee over to the terrorists. In the post 9/11 world if thou want to grab a conservative’s attention all thou hast to do is use the world Muslim and instantly an enemy is created, so here is where thou begins to see the sensationalism, key words chosen very carefully to illicit an almost conditioned response.
 .
Now for the reality of President Obama’s quote, from his book The Audacity of Hope: “Of course, not all my conversations in immigrant communities follow this easy pattern. In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction” (261). Suddenly with a bit of context not referenced in the initial article a monster willing to sell out his people becomes a man making sure a horrible mistake in American history tis not repeated. In essence with the full context the answer to the initial article’s question of can a President who promised to stand with the Muslims protect America, tis in fact a rousing aye.
.
So there thou hast it: an entire article built on a lie of omission, written off a out of context five-year-old quote that hath been rebuked more times than Thor hath repelled Surtur. Why? Because without a bit of editing and riling up the base thou doth not have an article, and if the past five years hath been any indication, any dig at the President no matter how absurd makes for good copy to the base. Surly Thor tis loathe to mention them, but if thou need any further example of sensationalism and its place in the right see the Birther movement. Verily a more wretched hive of scum and villainy thou shalt nay find. In this case the birthers opt entirely out of omission and go directly to conjecture and hyperbole to sensationalize to the base. Facts? Pshhh, who needs them when e’ery internet detective can swear up and down that he hath more critical thinking skills and Photoshop knowledge than the whole of the United States government.
.
The problem with sensationalism at the end of the day is sadly that it fills a very vital and crucial role with its base, the need to be right or at least to ascribe all the ills of the world to people outside your ethos. Sensationalism allowed Paul Ryan to shift all the heat toward President Obama for “stealing” $700 billion from Medicare and away from Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system to the tune of the same $700 billion. Sensationalism allows Republicans to set up the cross to nail Obama upon over Benghazi for some missteps in talking points whilst sheltering away the fact that those Republicans cut security funding to that same embassy two years in a row. Sensationalism allows a Pilate-esque way of washing their hands of things by placing the blame as far thence as possible. Tis an ugly truth, but tis one of the most primal and tribal experiences on Midgard: the want and need for the monsters to come from outside the gate and not from inside the village and definitely not from within thine own hut.
 .
You mortals hath a saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The problem hath now become that the sensationalism hath become that squeaky wheel, and by giving that wheel grease thou continue to aid and abed in the process. Perchance in this case Surly Thor suggests that when the wheel squeaks thou should replace it with a less whiny cog. Barring that, Odinson suggests finding the someone who doth grease that squeaky wheel, be it on the comments section of the article itself or on a friend who doth post such trite fodder upon the Book of Face and correct them, citing sources and explaining to them that a bigger picture might actually exist even if tis beyond the scope of what their mind wants to see. Chances art thou will be rebuffed with one of the classic arguments where they question thy sexual orientation or if thou art currently dwelling in the basement of your parents, but on the odd occasion they can be swayed and if at the end of the day one mind can be changed than the fight is noble.
 .
Until next week, stay classy Midgard,
 .
Surly Thor