To understand how messages are conveyed, you must pay close attention to the language being used. One of the most subtle tells is the use of pronouns. A study was done that concluded men tend to use the first person and second person singular more often, whereas women tend to use the second person plural more often.
The second thing to pay attention is how information is presented. In the linked-to article for this thread, I take a look at Katie Yoder’s article on Fox News titled, “5 NewYear's resolutions for our out-of-touch media. (Hint: Start with somechocolate)”
The title itself invokes the idea that the article will be about all media, and her use of the first person plural possessive indicates she is referring to all US media. The implication here is that she believes that the current state of US media is out-of-touch with what “real” Americans are thinking. Before I go any further, keep in mind that one of the frames of the Right is that the Left, and by extension, all, so-called, “liberal mainstream media” is completely out of touch with most Americans, and the reason for this is that the Left is mostly populated with wealthy, university educated elitists who have never worked a hard day in their life. Realizing that, then there is a not-so-subtle hidden agenda in this essay’s title, and being that it is posted on FNC’s site, a certain audience is being targeted whose ears are attuned to what some people refer to as, “dog whistles”.
Her essay certainly begins benign, hopeful and unbiased enough: “When someone asks me “What’s the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?” I don’t give the typical answer. I don't point to the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro or Austria’s lavish Schönbrunn Palace -- though each site has taken my breath away. No. My answer is kindness, especially this new year.” So far, so good, right?
It’s not until four and a half paragraphs into the essay when she makes an abrupt turn to the right.
“and the liberal media smear conservative news sites as "fake," writers easily lose themselves in an agenda forgetful of the everyday life.”
Read that part carefully; she is claiming that all “liberal media” is, apparently, smearing, all conservative news sites and then, very adroitly, she ties that to an “agenda” which is targeted at forgetting the “everyday life”, but it’s not too hard to read into “life” as really meaning, “people”.
Her next paragraph is, when you really think about it, a very puzzling transition that features two pieces of information which, while germane, are not connected to one another linearly, especially in light of what the focus of the essay is supposed to be about: “A recent poll revealed that a majority of Americans prefer "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays." But many in the liberal media don’t just ignore that, they also take a step farther by mocking and attacking Christians during this special season.” Remember her title? This was supposed to have been about all media, but clearly, it’s not; it’s about “liberal” media. They’re the ones out of touch with America, and, according to her, a recent poll is proof of that. However, not only does she not provide a link to that poll, she goes on to make a completely false and unsubstituted claim that “many in liberal media…ignore that”. The reason why this is an awkward transition, aside from the fact that the article was presumably about all media, is that she was just describing the alleged smears of right wing media by left wing media. The awkwardness continues in the second half as she somehow tries to relate her false claim with a much more severe one; that all liberal media is mocking and attacking all Christians “during this special season.” Funny, she didn’t call it Christmas…
Then, she makes another awkward transition with the next paragraph: “That’s all part of the disaster that was news in 2016. Journalists need to find a positive way to get past that. To learn how to report with no regrets, we must first learn to live with no regrets.” This essay began with a personal anecdote regarding her family, Midnight Mass and a homeless man, then abruptly veered into claims of smears, mockery and attacks by “liberal” media, then, just as abruptly, she pulls back and makes a claim that “that was news in 2016”, which she claims was a “disaster”. The word, “that” is an antecedent in this case, so it must have a referent, so the question is, what is its referent? Her story about Christmas; that liberal media apparently smears conservative media or that liberal media is supposedly mocking and attacking all Christians?
We never find out because she takes another hard turn, this time, back to her focus: appreciate life and the people around you.
I guess, but notice how, in the third part of her essay, she switches back to the use of the second person, and first person plural; she went from first person to a very directed third person plural to an inclusive and expansive first person.
Regardless, I want to focus on the message and the words used in the fourth and fifth paragraphs, and specifically, three words: smear, mock and attack.
Each of those words is a hyperlink to an outside source. Typically, when this technique is used, the author is linking to something specific which provides unbiased support for their argument.
However, all three links connect to Newsbusters-a site for which she is a writer, and, it should be noted, that two of those articles target the Washington Post while the first targets CNN. No need to state what the Right thinks of those two media outlets.
Linking to the same source for support of your argument is frowned upon in academia, science-just about everywhere-but also linking to your place of employment further decreases any legitimacy of your argument. But remember; she was making the claim that it was all liberal media against all conservative media and all Christians.
The apparent “smear” was made by one person, a consultant called into CNN to give his opinion on so-called, “fake news” and the proof of that smear is that, during the short segment, there are two screen shots of a webpage belonging to Newsbusters. I shouldn’t have to point this out, but one man, who never directly refers to any media source, his opinion and a news outlet displaying a graphic which has a picture of one conservative website does not, in any way, fulfill the argument that all liberal media is smearing all conservative media.
As for the next two, Yoder links to a critique of a review, posted in, you guessed it, WaPo, of a musical that, apparently mocks Christianity. The author of the NB article, Tim Graham, makes the completely unsubstantiated claim that, “Let's guess Islam got left out, since satirizing Islam leads to a fatwa. It certainly doesn't lead to a favorable review in liberal papers.” I write unsubstantiated because he admits, without expressly doing so, that he did not see the show, has not read its script and did not contact anyone in affiliation with the show. But why bother with doing any actual journalistic research when you can use another right wing meme; that liberals love Muslims over Christians and Jews. But let’s not forget the premise of the argument; it’s all liberal media mocking all Christians, however, a review of a musical that does the actual mocking is not only not proof of that, is scientifically flawed because it ignores Jews who are also targets of the musical.
As to the “attacking” that all liberal media perpetuates upon all Christians, Yoder, once again linking to her employer’s site, uses as support to this argument, one article written in regards to comments made by two different people on two different sites; The Daily Beast and, yes, WaPo, again. The person quoted in WaPo, Ruth Everhart is a Presbyterian minister and the other person, also a woman, Candida Moss, is a scholar of religion. Once again, two people does not at all constitute all liberal media and their giving their opinions about modern Christianity’s take on the Virgin Mary hardly rises to the level of “attacking”. But again, none of that matters.
And it doesn’t matter because Yoder’s target audience is already convinced that there is a giant cabal of liberal, mainstream media and that they all despise real Americans, hate Christianity and idolize Islam.
Finally, there is this: In January, 2015, after the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked in Paris by Islamic gunmen, Yoder wrote a piece for NB in which she laments about the attacks upon free speech. And the very real attack that she uses to highlight her argument is, ironically enough, a very, and openly, liberal media source.