Old News Makes Great News

In case you had forgotten how evil President Obama is, don’t worry, Fox News has your back!

On October 6, the New York Times published an article talking about how the Justice Department was preparing to release 6,000 federal inmates, most of which were non-violent drug offenders, in efforts to ease overcrowding of the prison population in the United States. Overall the article is tame and mainly issue frame based. It begins by talking about why the prisoners were being released, and how it was in large part due to reforms (which have been bipartisan) being made to drug charges. It does cite some concerns raised by law enforcement officials about how the newly released inmates would cope, but overall it the article gives the feel that this is not an end of the world crisis by any means.

However, this is what is on the front page of Foxnews.com for today (November 11, 2015):

Lets forget the fact that the New York Times published an article about this more than a month ago, whose headline by the way was: “U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates From Prisons”. No concerns really, just more of an “oh by the way” article headline. But not according to Fox News! Clearly the two headlines already paint a completely different picture.

The Fox News article begins with, “Local sheriffs across America are voicing concern for the safety of the citizens they’ve sworn to protect after the biggest one-time release of federal inmates in U.S. history — though advocates of criminal justice reform maintain the release is being handled responsibly.”…clearly we can’t trust the advocates of criminal justice reform to be telling the truth. The article continues on with quotes Sheriff’s from Arizona and Texas raising concerns not only about who is getting released, but the fact that there are some that are also getting deported. “‘If [the Obama administration is] not capable of making honest and prudent decisions in securing our borders, how can we trust them to make the right decision on the release of prisoners who may return to a life of crime?’ Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, told FoxNews.com.” It is not until more than halfway down the article is it that Fox News mentions that the prisoners being released are convicted of drug offenses, but they are quick to point out that the cases range broadly from low-level drug offenses/dealers to cocaine and heroine dealers. The article continues on with more quotes from people doubting the truth told by the Justice Department and the Obama administration about those being released.

This is a perfect example of how issues can be framed drastically different and present a topic to reader in a way that can push them to one side of the debate, or possibly even polarize them even more. The New York Times article was informative. It laid out the facts upfront of who was being released and why, it even mentioned the concerns raised about releasing inmates, but overall supported the idea of the commuted sentences. Fox News however would make you think that President Obama is personally releasing serial killers who are going to come kill us all. In reality however, once you take out the drastic end of the world quotes, the article talks about how they are either drug offenders or illegal immigrants being deported. The Fox News article used a game frame and fear tactics to delegitimize President Obama and the Department of Justice and would make a reader believe that we are all that much unsafer now because of their actions.

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Old News Makes Great News

3 thoughts on “Old News Makes Great News

  1. andreadominguez1 says:

    Matt,

    First of all, this is a great post of the two contrasting articles. What was astounding to me was the time difference between the two articles. The New York Times published their article over the release of 6,000 federal inmates more than a MONTH before Fox’s article over the same topic, “‘The Biggest Sham’: Outrage over mass release of 6,0000 federal inmates,” attacking and mimicking the New York Times. A little late

    The polarization Fox is implementing is apparent solely in the headlines of its article. Fox attempts to attract the reader to their political bias right off the back with the accusation of President Obama personally releasing the federal inmates who, like you said, are “serial killers” when in reality are drug offenders and illegal immigrants. The article Fox publishes creates an unnecessary negative connotation — naturally due to the political party he associates with — towards our president.

    In the end, the attack of President Obama will not change the fact that he is the president of our country and deserves the upmost respect, but will lead to readers possibly creating a bias towards his presidency.

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  2. sbacelis says:

    I was totally thinking about this earlier today! the only thing i could add to this is that fox news does a good job of showing some type of bias because they choose to include quotes from law enforcement officials in two of the most notable conservative states, both of which are red states, so of course they will disagree with the obama administration’s decision.

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  3. Wow this is really interesting to see the contrast between the two headlines! I had previously read the article by the New York Times (I also interpreted it to be more informative rather than shocking) so reading Fox’s spin on it was quite surprising to say the least. I am curious as to what Shaw was hoping to evoke from his audience by creating such a dramatic headline on an ‘old’ story. Perhaps to draw the reader in, however, that moment of fear instilled in the reader would be subdued in a matter of minutes of engaging the article. To what extent is this drastic change in tone between the two articles actually affecting an engaged reader/audience? I can see how someone scrolling past would be shocked to read that and perhaps form/reinforce negative opinions on the Obama administration, but how does this ultimately persuade an active reader? Since a negative tone is already established in the Fox article, is the audience more likely to become more polarized due to this premeditated wording by Shaw? Overall, this was a very interesting read and I really enjoyed your analysis on the differences/similarities of the two articles and how they affect audiences.

    Like

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