Posts tagged ‘cnn effect’

14 September 2008

The Fox Effect

Sarah Palin again. Rather than the CNN Effect, perhaps its better to call it the Fox Effect. In her ABC interview, Palin linked Iraq to the 9/11 attacks in the US. Despite a complete lack of supporting evidence, it seems that this is still common understandig in the US. A Harris poll of US citizens in October 2004 found that:

– 62 percent believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda (a claim which Vice President Cheney has made more than President Bush).

More surprising perhaps are the large numbers (albeit not majorities) who believe claims which the president has not made, and which virtually no experts believe to be true:

– 41 percent believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001.
– 38 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded.
– 37 percent actually believe that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis.

An in-depth analysis of a series of polls conducted in 2003 by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks found three significant misperceptions among the US public:

– 48% incorrectly believed that evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda have been found,
– 22% that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and
– 25% that world public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq.

The polls also found that the level of misperception correlated to the main source of news. 80% of Fox news viewers voiced at least one of these three misperceptions:

So, if the CNN Effect leads policy makers, the Fox Effect leads viewers who elect politicians… and sometimes apparently politicians themselves.

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12 September 2008

Palin: War on Russia

The USA will go to war with Russia if necessary, Sarah Palin said in an interview with ABC yesterday. Commenting on Georgia, she said that Russia did after all ‘invade another country. Unprovoked.’

Not even the most vocal anti-Russian, pro-Georgian commentators in the US have gone this far. This kind of comment ignores the multiple provocations (from both sides) over the past months and years. When they want to shift the blame for the conflict to the Russian administration, US commentators generally have two strategies to deal with the independent evidence that both sides were preparing for war as a contingency and that Georgian forces were the first to begin massive heavy artillery bombing of South Ossetia at approx. midnight on 7-8 August:

Strategy 1: Georgia walked into Russian trap.

Strategy 2: Russian reaction was excessive.

So, what does Palin’s remark illustrate?

1. It provides more ammunition to those criticising her lack of foreign policy expertise.

2. It provides support for ‘the CNN effect’. Not uncontroversial, the CNN effect suggests that mainstream news media have a significant effect on foreign policy. Its critics say (a) it exaggerates the power of the media to affect policy, (b) meanings are not transmitted in such a linear fashion (media -> audience -> policy), and/or (c) surely policy makers have better sources of information (academic specialists, specialist advisers).

Palin’s remarks show that she, at least, is more influenced by US news media than by experts on Russian, Georgian or Caucasus politics.

On the CNN effect:

Steven Livingston (pdf), Piers Robinson (article) (book). Fred H. Cate (‘The so-called “CNN effect” is not as clear-cut as many people think’).