The New York Times, the Republican Debate, and Frames

The very title of the New York Times’ “In Republican Debate, Candidates Battle Sharply on Immigration” reeks of game frame, painting the Republican debate not as a forum for discussion on issues, but as a wrestling ring where candidates engage in “personal sniping” instead of throwing punches (Martin and Healy 2015). Martin and Healy continue this trend through the body of the article, where several paragraphs begin with a sentence like “But Mr. Kasich stayed on the attack” and “Mr. Bush then tried to pounce.” In addition to this, even as Martin and Healy criticize candidates for “heaping scorn” on each other and engaging in this personal sniping, Martin and Healy certainly seem quick to note the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. They note that while Bush “clashed memorably with Mr. Rubio in the debate last month,” he has been struggling to “show skeptical donors and voters that his campaign is still viable” (Martin and Healy 2015). Mr. Trump is described as having views “outside of mainstream thinking for many independent and swing voters,” while the entire article ends with a description of a gaffe made by Cruz: “Mr. Cruz also argued repeatedly for big government changes, but stumbled notably when he pledged to eliminate five major federal agencies and then struggled to name them… ‘Five major agencies that I would eliminate: the I.R.S., the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, uh, the Department of Commerce and HUD, and then 25 specific programs,” Mr. Cruz said” (Martin and Healy 2015). One can tell which candidates Martin and Healy favor as a result; disliked candidates are described in game frame while favored candidates such as Rubio are allowed room in the article to expound on their issues. This naturally makes candidates such as Rubio appear less like a circus and more like a serious candidate, while candidates such as Bush and Cruz are portrayed less sincerely, focusing on the issues for the issues’ sake, and more manipulatively, focusing on the issues to (re)gain votes. Perhaps a better title for the article would be “In Republican Debate, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Kasich, and Mr. Paul actually discuss the issues while other candidates try desperately to regain votes.”

Martin, Jonathan and Patrick Healy. 2015. “In Republican Debate, Candidates Battle Sharply on Immigration.” The New York Times. Last modified Nov. 10. Accessed Nov. 11, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/11/us/republican-debate-fox-business.html

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The New York Times, the Republican Debate, and Frames

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