According to a recent Pew Poll, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen by 69 percent of Americans as tough. Sixty-seven percent of Americans approve the job Clinton did as secretary of state, and 56 percent believe she is honest. These numbers come from a national sample of 1,002 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Despite such strong numbers and a high likability rating (only 36 percent of those polled believe she is hard to like), the attacks in Benghazi, Libya are still seen as her top negative.
Clinton has been in the news again this week with her remarks regarding the on-going situation in Ukraine. It is said she likened Russia’s actions toward Ukraine to those of Hitler in the 1930s. Politico reports Clinton’s record on Russia during her time as secretary of state has been scrutinized recently considering she was at the center of attempts to “reset” the Russian-American relationship. Regarding Clinton’s comments on Russia’s actions toward Ukraine she is quoted as saying, “I’m not making comparisons, but I am recommending that we can perhaps learn from this tactic that has been used before.”
With buzz about Clinton running for office in 2016, we are now seeing the right-wing bring up Clinton’s ties with Benghazi. It is obvious we can expect more of this as we near Clinton’s decision to run. OPSEC, a group of former military special forces and intelligence operatives is said to publish a 20 page report on Clinton’s short comings concerning the Benghazi attacks.
“The report, entitled “Breach of Duty: Hillary Clinton and Catastrophic Failure in Benghazi,” says that due to a lack of due diligence by Congress, the “full story about Hillary Clinton’s deadly failure of leadership may never be completely told.” It calls for a special congressional investigation of the affair,” according to Reuters.
With 2016 elections nearing the front of everyone’s minds, Clinton’s top positive being her time as secretary of state, her top negative being her handling of Benghazi, her recent comments regarding Russia and Ukraine, as well as the scrutiny surfacing over her handling of Russia during her time as secretary of state, one can only wonder how she will fare. Will we see “Clinton 2016″ bumper stickers, or will her relatively high poll numbers begin to dwindle as her opponents question her time and transparency in the State Department?
This is going to be a different kind of blog post. After reading Chapter 35 about strategic communication within newsmaking, I thought it would be appropriate to post my blog post that is on a different blog. Why?
Because this chapter talks about “strategic” political communication (which may or may not mean subtle manipulation if we are being honest) and how “negative messages carry more weight than positive messages/ those on the attack generally have the advantage over those on the defensive” (429) I thought it would be good to present an analyis of an attack ad.
I think it’s important to evaluate the effectiveness of it and see whether or not negative messages really do carry more weight than positive messages. What do ya’ll think?
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently vetoed a bill that would allow religious beliefs as a defense for denying services to someone. Brewer said the bill had “the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.” The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would have made it legal for business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Brewer’s actions have gotten the attention of the media, but what should be getting the most attention is the outside pressure she got. The National Football League and Major League Baseball spoke out against the legislation. The NFL released a statement saying they disapprove of all forms of discrimination and were closely following the situation in Arizona. A few hours later, Brewer vetoed the bill.
The NFL was not issuing an empty threat. In 1992, Super Bowl XXVII was slated to be held in Tempe, but was later moved to California after Arizona refused to celebrate MLK Day. Arizona is definitely not in the position to upset the NFL since they are set to host Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015 in Glendale. With the first openly gay football player entering the draft, you can expect the NFL to have a zero tolerance policy against discrimination of gay and lesbians.
Over the duration of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Ukraine’s months-long violent conflict finally took a noticeable presence in the American media. This is far from a mere coincidence; it is the result of carefully crafted political and journalistic strategy. The impeccable timing of the developments in Kiev and the media attention given to these developments are far too convenient to ignore. I argue that the media aimed to support their own nations’ interests and that the Olympics were used as an opportunity to advance Western economic and political interests in Ukraine.
The protests began when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych turned down a deal with the European Union that would free it from economic dependency on Russia. Yanukovych chose Russian security over European opportunity. Protests erupted, especially in the nation’s capital, Kiev. The opposition’s protests were initially peaceful, but some unidentified event happened in Kiev that initiated the violence. For months, these demonstrations were rarely mentioned in the American mainstream media. However, Russia Today (RT), the Guardian and BBC all provided fairly consistent coverage of the issue. In general, news coverage by the Guardian and BBC seemed to favor the opposition by reporting on casualties and consistently referring to them as “protesters.” They framed the opposition as being legitimate freedom fighters that should be sympathized with. Russian media tended to refer to the opposition as “rioters” who defied their [supposedly] democratically elected government. Although RT did refer to the demonstrators as “protesters” at times, their frequent condemnation suggests that they hoped to defend Russian interests and frame the protesters as being defiant and illegitimate. This would be a legitimate interest of the news network, since the Russian government funds it. Google Trends reveals that people around the world saw the demonstrators in Ukraine as being legitimate protesters instead of disgruntled rioters. Western framing worked.
Months of riots became rhythmic and achieved little more than the survival of the movement. In late January, that rhythm made a drastic adjustment to the beat of the opposition’s war drums. The Olympics were approaching, and they were being hosted by the nation that the demonstrators wanted to defect from. Russia was already surrounded by human rights violations, and there are certain standards that a country hosting the Olympics is supposed to meet in the public eye. If the nation intervened in a foreign nation’s internal affairs for their own political gain, hell would break loose. The opposition leaders likely knew that if the movement could last until the Olympics, they could use that moment to conduct a hostile takeover without military intervention of any sort. If the Ukrainian government fired on their own citizens, even dissenters of the opposition would not be able to excuse such an atrocity. If Russia used heavy-handed methods to intervene while hosting the Olympics, the media would surely capitalize off of their actions and create an international uproar.
While the opposition capitalized off of the Olympic’s effect on the Russian government, the media (including the American media) put it on their agenda to cover the clashes and provide live streaming of the “war zone.” The Olympics lasted from February 7 to February 23, and it is reasonable to believe that their political influence began long before that. Within this timeline, violence exploded, government buildings were captured and occupied, rioters and police began using firearms and the Ukrainian president was forced to leave the country. If that was not enough, before Yanukovych’s removal from office, Bogdana Matsotska, a Ukrainian Olympic competitor, skipped her event and vocally protested Yanukovych’s methods. Her position as an Olympian and a Ukrainian native granted her a level of authority on the issue and provided the opposition with a sense of respectability in the public eye.
On February 10 (day four of the Olympics), the New York Times published an article warning that Russia would likely take some sort of action against the Ukrainian opposition after the Olympics ended. Within a week of its ending, armed supporters of Russia seized control of the airports in the Crimean peninsula. According to CNN reporter Diana Magnay, one of these armed men said that he was from Russia. The Russian Black Sea fleet is also stationed in this region, and the Russian military is performing exercises to along Russia’s border with Ukraine. The claimed that Russia has obtained a presence in Crimea without actually occupying would be useful in claiming that they have a legitimate political right to the region if Magnay’s report did not suggest that these men were in fact Russian. However, there is a strong base of Russian support in eastern Ukraine that will become useful in Russia’s political claim. As of March 1, Russian parliament has given consent to sending troops into the Crimean peninsula. President Barrack Obama voiced his concern over this activity.
At this point, the media is heavily placing coverage on Russia’s political strategies and the ethno-political demographics of Ukraine. Some reporters have discredited the legitimacy of Russia’s influence in the eastern half of the country. The strategic importance of the Crimean peninsula as a port has been a vital factor in these discussions. The media also appear to be portraying Obama’s statements against Russian interference as less of an interventionist tactic and more of a defense of social contract theory. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria was one of many reporters who have emphasized the nightmarish effect this has had on Putin and his relations with the West—not to mention his failure to maintain control over Ukraine. Even as I type, developments are still being made.
The Sochi Olympics was the determining factor in the fight for Ukraine’s economic and political independence from Russia. The western media tended to frame the issue well enough, frequently enough and subtly enough to instill popular support of the Pro-European Union demonstrators. This public backing encouraged a position on the issue that their governments already supported. Now, Vladimir Putin is clearly stuck in a battle that he will inevitably lose. Cold War II is officially here. The only difference is that Western governments and their media have taken a far more sophisticated, subtle approach to the matter.
For the last week, the media has focused much of its world news coverage on the protests in Ukraine, and ignoring those in Venezuela. Fox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian all show little or no reports on the civil unrest occurring south of the United States. In order to understand why the media’s focus turns to Eastern Europe instead of Latin America, the media frame of Ukraine coverage must be investigated.
Within the four media investigated, an underlying Russia vs. the West tone reverberated throughout. Ian Traynor and Shaun Walker from The Guardian wrote that “Western governments are scrambling to contain the fallout from Ukraine’s weekend revolution, pledging money, support and possible EU membership, while anxiously eyeing the response of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, whose protege has effectively been ousted.” Articles from Fox News, The New York Times and The Washington Post all included the idea of a pro-Russian eastern half of the country and a western half of Ukraine behind the protests that forced Russian allied President Viktor Yanukovych to leave the capital of Kiev. The media’s focus on a Russian backed government ousted by pro-western supporters plays well to the old cold war theme: The gallant west vs. Archenemy Russia. This frame proves to be a more striking story than “Student protesters pack the streets. Violence surges. Tear gas billows,” which was the lead of CNN’s story on Venezuela (the only medium to make the protests in Venezuela easy to find on their website).
Venezuela is just another story of protests to western news media, but Ukraine allows for a rekindling of cold war style foreign policy reporting. Drama makes more money, and in today’s media world, turning a profit is essential for survival; therefore is this an attempt to create a crisis and drive public opinion to increase profits, or is the familiar story of Russia vs. the U.S. just an easier sell to readers?