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How the media frames issues and how you can fight back

Tim Danahey, Coffee Party USA Director of Public and Member Relations

One Monday, the Associated Press counted unelected super delegates, added them to the delegates generated by the primary process, and declared Hillary Clinton the “presumptive” nominee for the Democratic Party to run for President.  It was blatantly inappropriate because the regular delegate count (those elected by the people) was relatively close with seven states and the District of Columbia about to hold their primaries.  During the entire primary season, the media showed Hillary's delegate count vastly exceeding Bernie's because the media included legally-unbound super delegates in Hillary's count.  Despite Bernie's surging appeal, he was always fighting from a 700 delegate hole.

Glen Greenwald wrote a spectacular comment about how the corporate media declared a winner based upon unelected delegates before people got to vote.  His comment is brilliant.

But what are the other ways the media is framing this election and issues?  Let's give some examples.

This morning a national poll showed Hillary Clinton with a 43% to 39% over Donald Trump and used this as an example of her increasing popularity as Trump had a one-point lead in recent weeks.  However, we have to look at the math.  43 plus 39 is only 82.  What about the other 18 percentage points?  The truth is that Hillary's numbers are relatively unchanged and Trump's popularity is falling.  The other truth is that the Libertarian and Green Parties are showing increasing strength.  The Libertarian Party's strength is such that, if they can can raise their current 10% to 15%, they must be included in the controlled two-party Presidential debates.  The two parties do not want Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to be at the debate table and, by suppressing their numbers and not allowing the public to see other viable candidates are running, the election is framed.

The health care issue was also reported incompletely.  For the past six years, polls are constantly asking “Do you support Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)?  The poll results constantly show numbers showing support in the 30% range or so.  The media uses that number as evidence Obamacare is unpopular and failing.  The truth is the a vast majority of the 70% who disapprove of Obamacare want a single-payer national health care system.  If you take the 30% who support Obamacare and 60% of the 70% who disapprove, you get 72% of Americans who want a single-payer national health care system.

The fact the pharmaceutical industry is only allowed to advertise prescription drugs on television in only two countries on earth (the USA and New Zealand) suggests there exists a media dependency on pharmaceutical revenue.  The issue is therefore framed.  Technically accurate but, nonetheless, incomplete.

Wants some more? Most uncomfortable government stories are released Friday afternoon.  Really distasteful stories are released the evening before a holiday.

The government's conclusion that China is manipulating its currency was released Christmas Eve a few years ago.  The fact China was violating the global embargo on Iranian oil was released on the Fourth of July three years ago.  A follow-up rationale that the Chinese “were improving” was offered.

J. Pierpont Morgan once said, in effect, “Let the people fight and distract themselves over social issues while we move our agenda steadily forward.”  Think about what is being discussed in the mainstream media:  floods, celebrities, transgender bathrooms, Donald Trump unsubstantial tweets, murders, accidents, Zika virus (not Congress' unwillingness to financially support containment of the virus), and similar matters.  What about the issues?

That is why you must fight back.  Do the math?. Join organizations shining attention on issues and discussions.  Ask your Congressman that financial questions.  Read between the lines.  Don't be distracted.  Get involved with others.  Make them accountable.