Historical events Essay
Depending on the political views of a reporter, columnist, author, or news agency, the facts can be reported in a variety of different ways. This can often cause controversy regarding the truth, as different sources report differing things as being true. This is also true when speaking of historical events, as different people will speak differently of different events, depending on their political affiliation and beliefs. By slating the information in a particular way, the reporter can further his or her own political agenda, by making his or her beliefs seem like the right ones.
If a person is a conservative politically, it would not make much sense for him or her to report the news in a manner that would support liberalism and vice versa. This is apparent in the way that Fox News and CNN report the news on a daily bases. There are clearly some political biases that distort the fact, in order to best serve the beliefs held by the people at these agencies. In a historical sense, it would not make much sense for a government to re-tell history in a manner that makes it seem tyrannical or even blood thirsty, so based on these political goals, the government can simply choose to leave certain aspects of history out.
This makes it possible for them to manipulate public opinion in the manner that best compliments their objectives. An example of how the manner in which a news story is reported can change the entire event is perceived is a recent story that was picked up by both Fox News and CNN. The story was about a tour that President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld embarked on in order to increase support for the war in Iraq. While the exact same speech was covered by both news agencies, the information that was passed on to the public was different in each case.
Fox News focused on the positives that had been accomplished in Iraq. It started by giving numbers on how many Iraqi soldiers had been trained to fight insurgents in the region. Rumsfeld was quoted as saying that “95 battalions, 50,000 of the 212,000 Iraqi force, are trained, equipped and in the fight against insurgents” (Baier). Fox also made a point of mentioning how Iraqi forces were taking an increased role in the stabilization of Iraq and they were well on their way to being able to defend their own country.
Fox continued on by including Rumsfeld’s quote that withdrawing troops from Iraq would be counter productive to their anti-terror movement and would “put the United States ‘at still greater risk’” (Baier). Fox News did not forget to mention how George Bush said that he has a strategy for victory, despite the fact that no specific strategy is discussed. Lastly, Fox News included Rumsfeld’s claim that “most citizens in Iraq are not supporting their (the insurgents’) cause” (Baier). By comparison, CNN took this story in a completely different direction by adding negative views on the war to its coverage.
CNN begins by mentioning that the war is becoming “increasingly unpopular” (Bush: No Iraq Pullout Without Victory) in the United States. CNN continues on with its unflattering views by saying, “About 159,000 troops are in Iraq, up from about 138,000 in the summer” (Bush: No Iraq Pullout Without Victory). This shows how unsuccessful the Bush administration has been at accomplishing its goal of getting the troops out of Iraq. The CNN articles also reminds the reader that the war began under the assumption that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that despite this claim, no weapons had been found in the country.
This is something that the government would desperately like the people to forget, but CNN will not let them. CNN also gives figures on the death toll of American troops in Iraq. This is another soft spot, as those who oppose the war often bring up the fact that many American soldiers have died fighting in a war that has no point. A quick mention is also given of anti-war demonstrators that showed up while Bush was speaking. Fox made no mention of this because it is very anti-Bush. Finally, CNN’s coverage of this story included the opinions of Senator Jack Reed, who is a Democrat from Rhode Island.
His opinions are anti-Bush, due to his political affiliation. Reed comments add to the negative picture this article paints of Bush. These two articles cover the exact same thing, but they are obviously spun in very different directions. While some of the same quotes are used in both stories, they are not used in the same manner. Due to their conservative viewpoints, which coincide with the Republican Party’s viewpoints, Fox News focuses on the positives that are coming out of Iraq. Since Fox News is seen as a supporter of the Bush administration, it will slant its stories to paint Bush and his associated in a positive manner.
Fox also does not include any opposing statements or differing points of view in its article, which gives the reader the impression that what they are reporting is the only opinion of this subject matter. CNN, on the other hand, is better at exploring both sides of the story. This article is more centerist than anything else, as it presents both sides of the story, although perhaps not equally. CNN says a lot of negative things about the war in Iraq, due to its liberal ideology, but it also does include what Rumsfeld said about certain things.
CNN’s coverage does not follow one particular political ideology but can rather be interpreted as anti-conservative which, in turn, makes it anti-Bush. Seeing as how a story that quotes both Bush and Rumsfeld would only give one political view, CNN brought in the help of a Democratic Senator, in order to give a differing ideology on the matter. Both of these networks take the events that occurred, and organize them in a manner that will appeal to their viewers the most, even though both of them leave things out and include outside resources that contribute to their goals.
This trend, however, has led to the public becoming “increasingly cynical toward the news media, as reflected in the slumping credibility ratings for many outlets. More generally, a majority of Americans (53%) agree with the statement ‘I often don’t trust what news organizations are saying. ’ And while 43% disagree with that statement, just 9% completely disagree with it” (Attitudes Toward the News: News Audiences Increasingly Politicized). A historical event that that has been changed due to a particular political ideology is the happenings surrounding the Nicaraguan election of 1990.
The American government had the ideology that the Sandinistas, who were in power in Nicaragua, were not good for American interests in the region. It was reported in the New York Times just after the election that this was a long overdue victory for the opposition party, as American political ideals did not agree with the Socialist regime in Nicaragua. David Shipler wrote, It is true that partly because of the confrontation with the U. S. , Nicaragua’s economy suffered terribly, setting the stage for the widespread public discontent with the Sandinistas reflected in Sunday’s balloting.
But few governments become moderate during a war; the contra war strengthened Sandinista hard-liners and probably contributed to their oppressive policies. The way to resolution opened only when Congress suspended the war, in effect, to give the Sandinistas a chance to proceed democratically. . . . Thus, Nicaragua’s election has vindicated Washington’s fledgling program of providing public, above-board funding to help democratic procedures take root in countries with authoritarian regimes. (A. 27)
Due to the slant that the American government wanted to put on this situation, they only released certain information to the general public, which gave the public a favorable opinion of how the situation was handled. The American government portrayed Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega as a vicious man who tormented his people for years and only lost the his power when he agreed to a democratic election. In reality, however, Ortega won an election in 1984 by quite a wide margin and had been making strides in Nicaragua, until a group of U. S. backed militants began a war with him and his troops. This is the dominant ideology as well.
During this time period, the United States was able to use the fact that the Sandinistas are a left wing party, as the Communist Party in the Soviet Union was, in order to gain support for their actions in Nicaragua. The American government to this day continues to tell the people of the United States that U. S. policy aims to continue supporting the consolidation of the democratic process initiated in Nicaragua with the 1990 election of President Chamorro. The United States has promoted national reconciliation, encouraging Nicaraguans to resolve their problems through dialogue and compromise.
It recognizes as legitimate all political forces that abide by the democratic process and eschew violence. U. S. assistance is focused on strengthening democratic institutions, stimulating sustainable economic growth, and supporting the health and basic education sectors. (Background Note: Nicaragua) A differing political view, however, is held by Noam Chomsky. He has reported much different happenings in Nicaragua, due to his political angle being much different than the American government’s and the New York Times’.
He has reported that “Nicaragua was…exceptional in the strength of that government’s commitment…to improving the condition of the people and encouraging their active participation in the development process” (Chomsky 42) which makes the United States’ goal of keeping the Sandinistas out of power seem odd. The real reason why the American government did not want to have the Sandinistas in power was that they believed in distributing wealth evenly among its population. They had a steal from the rich and give to the poor-type of mentality.
This goes against the capitalist society that the United States prides itself on. The American government saw that socialism had the potential to work in Nicaragua and was worried about what kind of message that would send to the rest of the world. As it turns out, reports Chomsky, the American government funded the insurgents that caused so many problems for the Nicaraguan government while they were in power. They were provided with American weapons and resources, in order to make the people of Nicaragua believe that the government was not in control of things, in order to make them vote for someone one.
None of these things were reported very regularly in American newspapers because of political views and they have changed the way this entire situation has been viewed in history. Throughout history, politics have played a huge role in the way news is reported. The political ideologies held by an individual or agency can impact the story that the public hears. Many times, different agencies will report on the exact same story, but with different results. Other times, the real story does not make it to the mainstream media, but rather comes out later in books and journals.
These political views change the way things are reported and also the way things are remembered in the future. It is entirely possible to have your entire memory of an event molded by the network you switched to in order to watch the coverage. Past, present, and future events have all been manipulated by media and this trend will continue because there will always be political bias. Because of this, it is important to get news from as many sources as possible, and make an educated decision on what the real truth is.