A Controversial Compromise: The Conflict Frame Surrounding Brexit

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union last year Theresa May has been working on a plan to execute the separation. Up until recently Mrs. May preached a  “red-line” stance on Brexit, stating that she would never compromise on key issues for her party and other supporters of the split. But when she presented her plan for Brexit a few weeks ago, Mrs. May faced immediate backlash and multiple attacks over her new stance. Critics of this proposal are outraged by her new plan to compromise with the E.U, saying that her proposal is not what she promised.

The New York Times piece, ‘Theresa May Tried to Lead Britain to a Brexit Compromise. Was it Too Late?’, by Ellen Barry goes into depth over Mrs. May’s controversial compromise. But like many articles focused on legislative policy, this article uses the conflict frame, specifically polarized forces, substantive debate, and parliamentary tactics, in order to report on the issue in a way that is enticing to readers. These tactics highlight the existing conflict between lawmakers in Britain and the growing polarization surrounding Brexit.

As defined in Combative Politics, the term ‘polarized forces’ is characterized by presenting the “two sides of the issue […] within the first four sentences [of an article], setting [it] up as an examination of the ‘two sides of an issue” (Atkinson 2017, 37). Barry does this right off the bat in her article. She writes, “the full weight of two and a half years of struggle was visible on Prime Minister Theresa May’s face when she appealed to her colleagues to let go of their passionate, polarized beliefs and support her plan to leave the European Union in a vote on Tuesday.” This introductory anecdote set Barry’s article up to be exactly what Atkinson cautions against: a story that focuses attention on the polarization of an issue or piece of legislation.

In addition to this, Barry’s article uses substantive debate by covering the two-sided debate between elites in response to Brexit legislation. Her article highlights the “political effects of [this] legislation” and the “two sided discussion of [its] efficacy and merit” (Atkinson 2017, 38). Barry does this by including a number of quotes by people close to Mrs. May, their heated opinions about her, and writers who have covered Brexit in the past. She writes that “”She has not prepared the nation for what a compromise looks like,” said Katie Perrior, who served briefly as Mrs. May’s director of communications after she became prime minister. “At the beginning there was so much hard talk. ‘These are my red lines.’ Now people are trying to match the hard-talking Theresa May with another, more compromising one. She has not really explained that gap.” This quote uses polarized forces and substantive debate by presenting the disconnect between what Mrs. May said and what her proposals look like now. It also paints a picture of discontented elites who feel they were promised one thing and are getting another. Here Barry highlights the ways in which people are questioning the merit of Mrs. May’s Brexit.

Lastly, Barry’s article is an example of parliamentary tactics, or “articles that detail strategies to advance preferred policies and defeat one’s they oppose”, in action (Atkinson 2017, 39). Her New York Times article details Mrs. May’s background and how and why she was chosen to handle Brexit. It also lays out strategies that Mrs. May used in the beginning and how those strategies are playing out now. Barry writes that “if Mrs. May’s appeal for compromise has rung hollow, it is due in part to her own choices. For two and a half years as she negotiated Britain’s departure from the European Union, she was secretive about her intentions, like a poker player holding her cards to her chest. Early on, she expended vast reserves of energy reassuring the hard-line faction of her party that she was on their side, declaring boldly that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” This brings direct attention to Mrs. May’s tactics and how she has attempted to execute Brexit for better or for worse.    

All of this can be systematically investigated with the code Atkinson created for identifying the conflict frame and its effects on legislation. As more and more controversy begins to surround Brexit, public opinions of the matter are shifting and many worry that Britain’s politics are dangerously close to becoming a culture war (Barry 2018). For this reason, it is of critical importance that articles surrounding this and other legislation is coded for conflict frames in order to combat possible negative public opinion by bringing attention to its effects.

Works Cited:

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: the media and public perceptions of lawmaking. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/09/world/europe/theresa-may-brexit.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 12/09/2018

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A Controversial Compromise: The Conflict Frame Surrounding Brexit

Dramatization on the Hill: Trump, Mueller, and Cohen, Oh My!

Over the weekend the Mueller investigation released some shocking details in regards to Trump’s campaign and current administration. New information about possible Russian collusion and felony charges against the president during his 2016 campaign have been picked up and reported on by the media. Conversations about possible grounds for impeachment are beginning to start on networks like MSNBC, CNN, and even Fox News. Everyone is waiting to see what will happen next and what steps, if any, the president and his legal team are going to take. As is expected with the breaking of a politically and emotionally charged story, a number of news outlets are beginning to release articles about what can be expected in the coming days, weeks, and months, as the Mueller investigation unearths more and more evidence.

Many of these articles include clear examples of journalistic bias. For example, a piece by Washington Post journalists Robert Costa and Philip Rucker called “‘Siege warfare’: Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils” demonstrates event dramatization and focuses specifically on the characters at the heart of all the drama.

Bennett defines dramatization as news stories that “emphasize crisis over continuity, the present over the past or future, and the personalities at their center” (Bennett 2008, 178). While this event and the allegations against Trump are very serious and cause for alarm, the dramatization of Mueller’s findings undercuts their severity. “Lost in the news drama are sustained analyses of persistent problems such as inequality, […] and political oppression” (Bennett 2008, 178). The Washington post article dramatized the event with phrases like “political hailstorm”, “distressing”, “reeling”, and “intensifying”. In addition to this, the article focused on both sides of the aisle, and makes it seem like Trump and his legal team are plowing forward with a kind of ‘you can’t touch us’ attitude. While there was some analysis of the problem at hand and what it could mean legally, the article focused more on the drama between Democrats waiting to take over the House in January and Republicans. It also played off of so called ‘breaking points’, or moments when the presidents hypothetical actions could spell political suicide and cost him support from key Republican senators. Overall, the article focused more on the personalities, specifically Trump and his aides, at the epicenter of the story.  

In addition to this, while this article did a fairly good job at remaining unbiased in their coverage, there was a certain crisis frame placed around their reporting. And because the allegations of crimes committed by Trump is directly tied with an emotion (whether that emotion is positive or one of fear or anger), the crisis cycle as shown by the language used in this article, could hurt the validity of Mueller’s findings by redirecting people into “waves of immediate emotion” and away from fact (Bennett 2008, 178). The evidence uncovered by Mueller is critical to the stability and integrity of our democracy and for this reason it is crucial that the reporting on this evident is done correctly and free of journalistic bias or an attempt to up-sell the event for more ratings.

It is entirely logical, in my opinion, to be concerned and anxious to discover the truth about Trump, no matter what side of the aisle you vote for. This event, if true, marks an extreme assault on America’s institutions and their integrity. And for this reason, journalists need to be overly careful not to slant their coverage towards dramatization as this can have a profound negative effect on the story itself. In order to systematically investigate this bias a code should be developed to pinpoint dramatization and categorize it in order to better understand what it looks like in actions. Similar to what Atkinson did in Combative Politics, a code for dramatization and its severity could help educate readers on how to better analyze articles with dramatic slants. Which is important in order to make sure we, as media consumers, do not get bogged down in our initial emotional responses to particular political headlines.       

Works Cited:

Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: the media and public perceptions of lawmaking. London: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd.   

Bennett, W. Lance. 2008. News: The Politics of Illusion. In The Lanahan Readings in Media and Politics, ed. Lewis S. Ringel, 173-184. Baltimore: Lanahan Publishers Inc.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/siege-warfare-republican-anxiety-spikes-as-trump-faces-growing-legal-and-political-perils/2018/12/08/679b785a-fa59-11e8-863c-9e2f864d47e7_story.html?utm_term=.4f0efec112b9

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 12/09/2018

Dramatization on the Hill: Trump, Mueller, and Cohen, Oh My!

An Alarm Bell for Birthright Citizenship

This week President Trump made a pretty shocking claim about his ability to overrule Constitutional law through executive order during an interview with Axios. A number of media outlets took to the story and have stood up to both call attention to and analyze Trump’s claim. For this article comparison I looked at an article from CNN and one from MSNBC. Both articles had aspects of alarm system journalism while the MSNBC article did more to patrol or act as a democratic watchdog over the Constitution.

The CNN article written by Clare Foran focused mostly on the reactions of politicians and key republicans to Trump’s claim about ending birthright citizenship with an executive order. This article spoke heavily about Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan’s response to Trump’s proposed idea. The article made it very clear that Ryan thinks Trump cannot use an executive order to get rid of birthright citizenship. In addition to this, Foran also pulled on quotes by other key figures like Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump himself. While Trump’s comments/ tweets were largely inflammatory and hateful towards Speaker Ryan, Nancy Pelosi’s quotable moments were based largely in political calculus and the fast approaching midterm elections where she expects Democrats will take back the House. Overall, the takeaway from this article was that alarm bells needed to be rang in response to Trump’s comments. The article also left me with a sense of fear as the reader because Trump truly believes that he has the power to overrule the United States Constitution.

MSNBC article written by Steve Benen included some alarm bells as well, including the exact words of President Trump during his Axios interview this past week. Contrasting the CNN article however, Benen used Trump’s quotes paired his own individual voice to make his case about the dangers of what Trump is proposing. He did not really pull from any other key figures close to the story. The focus of this article was to explain what the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees and to provide an aspect of patrol or watchdog journalism to this story. Benen concluded his article by saying, “stunt or no stunt, that’s a posture worth remembering.” In addition to this, clear patrol journalistic techniques were used as Benen denounced Trump’s claim that the U.S. is the “only country” in the world to grant birthright citizenship; a claim that is completely false as “dozens of other countries” grant this kind of citizenship as well.

Overall, both articles had a very left-leaning agenda as they are both liberal media outlets. That being said, the MSNBC article definitely placed a more critical and skeptical frame around Trump’s threat of an executive order to end birthright citizenship and go against Constitutional laws. In addition, the CNN article relied predominantly on alarm system journalism while the MSNBC article was far more willing to critique and tear down the claims made by Trump. It was blatantly obvious that Benen was much more harsh than Foran was in her writing, providing a more critical report on this current event and less of a mere alarm over the shock value of the president’s comments.

Works Cited: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/31/politics/trump-paul-ryan-birthright-citizenship-midterms/index.html

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trumps-birthright-citizenship-plan-stunt-its-not-meaningless

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Ashton Eggers 10.31.2018

An Alarm Bell for Birthright Citizenship

Differing Tones and Their Implications on our Knowledge of Politics and Arguably, America’s Social Problems

Throughout the media there are countless examples of how two different newspapers or media outlets cover a single event. For my article comparison I looked at an article from the Washington Post, “The Real Danger to Kavanaugh’s Confirmation – if the FBI Can and Will Ask About It”, and another from Fox News, “Trump, pressed on Kavanaugh, tries to turn tables on ‘holier than thou’ Dems”. Both of these articles covered the controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh and the FBI investigation. Both also mentioned the debate on the scope of this investigation.

The frame constructed by Washington Post journalist Aaron Blake in his article created a more logical ‘who, what, when, where, and how’ conversation surrounding the FBI probe taking place this week. He mentioned sources from both sides of the conversation, mentioning The New York Times’ coverage of Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale, NBC News’ coverage over the limitations of this investigation set by Trump and Senate Republicans, and even quoted Republican Lindsey Graham (SC) [1]. Overall the language used by Blake was fairly mild and attempted to evenly cover the issue. That being said however, there were moments when this article seemed to lean slightly to the left. For example, Blake wrote, “but only if the FBI actually asks about all this” in reference to Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry and how his defense of it “rubbed [some of his Yale classmates] the wrong way” [1]. His use of the word “actually” and the description that Kavanaugh’s characterization of his college years didn’t sit quite right with those who witnessed it, provides some backing to the argument that Kavanaugh may not have been entirely forthcoming when he testified this past Thursday (an opinion largely held by Senate Democrats and Kavanaugh opposers alike). In addition to this, the tone created by Blake for his article was a serious one that highlighted the implications of sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee.  

The Fox News article by Alex Pappas on the other hand was clear in its tone and its frame; Trump and Kavanaugh good, Democrats bad. Pappas relied almost exclusively on quotes from President Trump during a press conference held this morning. This article seemed to focus on Trump’s belief that some of the democrats are “‘not angels’ themselves” as well as the “aggressive” questioning of Kavanaugh, by Democrats last week [2]. Pappas even mentioned Kavanaugh’s assertion that his third accuser’s allegations were a “joke” or “farce” [2]. This article focused exclusively on Trump’s opinion, leaving out all facts and opposing opinions. It also failed to cover or even mention the event at hand, the FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh, outside of Trump’s clearly biased comments. Because of this, the impression left by this article is that the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by Trump’s nominee to the highest court in the land, Brett Kavanaugh, is not really that big of a deal.   

I strongly believe that the stark contrast between the mild, semi unbiased coverage presented by Blake, and the absence of facts paired with heavy bias in the article by Pappas, has real implications for our understand of politics. Everyone has a media outlet that they trust, that is their go-to when it comes to the political or social reporting of issues. Because of this, the differences in how a single event is covered is extremely concerning. The differences in  bias and fact reporting in media coverage results in a public with different ideas about what is fact. For example, the Washington Post article presents the FBI investigation into judge Kavanaugh as somewhat of a waiting game to see what kind of information will be presented and what kind of implications, if any, this will have on Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. The Fox News article on the other hand, simply presents the issue in order to make the president and judge Kavanaugh look good. It excludes the facts and discredits the weight of these allegations, making them seem nonessential. This is further proven by the way Pappas concludes his article. He ended on a “light hearted” story of the jokes told by Trump at the end of his statement in regards to his own drinking [2]. The implications of this is that Washington Post readers take sexual assault allegations seriously while Fox News viewers are left with a light hearted tone surrounding this critical issue.                                   

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.  Ashton Eggers 10/1/2018

Works Cited:

[1]. Washington Post Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/01/real-danger-kavanaughs-confirmation-if-fbi-is-allowed-ask-about-it/?utm_term=.6e5930ff01cf

[2]. Fox News Article:  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-pressed-on-kavanaugh-tries-to-turn-tables-on-holier-than-thou-dems

Differing Tones and Their Implications on our Knowledge of Politics and Arguably, America’s Social Problems

How Do I Consume Media?

Over the course of this past week I tracked how I got my news and what sources I paid the most attention to. For the most part I used the news app on my cell phone, reading further into story notifications that most caught my attention. I receive notifications from the Washington Post, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and CNN. In addition to reading notification headlines, I also watched quite a bit of live coverage over the weekend in regards to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And on Thursday I spent the majority of the day watching the testimonies of Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford via the Washington Post’s live feed on YouTube (1). I also watched television coverage of the event in the days after these testimonies (specifically MSNBC news) (2).

For the most part I try to get my information and read articles from news sources that I believe try their best to maintain journalistic standards and that are widely credible (i.e. The New York Times, and the Washington Post). I make these choices consciously, in an attempt to combat my own biases and shape my own understanding of politics with facts. Because of the information I have learned thus far in Mass Media and what I learned in American Politics I think it is extremely important for our citizens to be critical and selective of the media that they consume so they are able to also form their own opinions and do not get bogged down by media/ journalistic biases. That being said, when reflecting back on my media consumption over the past week, specifically television media, I can definitely pinpoint moments where my personal biases directly influenced the coverage that I chose to watch.

The majority of the media I consumed over the last week was coverage over Brett Kavanaugh’s possible confirmation. In fact, I actively sought out information on this topic because I am extremely passionate about women’s rights, rape culture, and sexism throughout this country. While I looked specifically for articles that would provide the “hard facts” and even watched the live coverage of the testimonies myself so I could form my own opinions of them, I would be lying if I said my television consumption did the same. In reality, I selected shows that spoke my truth about the issue. For example, the MSNBC coverage that I watched included video clips and expert interviews that backed up my opinions about the allegations against judge Kavanaugh and the recently ordered, limited FBI investigation (2). After forming my opinion of the testimonies I was on the hunt for a discussion of the issue from my own point of view.

Overall, I believe I selected television news that more closely echoed my own beliefs because I had formed them while watching the testimonies live and uninterrupted the day before. In addition to this, I believe I chose this type of coverage because FOX news coverage of this event (and other conservative station’s coverage) simply made  me angry. I think this is how many Americans feel; they are infuriated by the “other side’s” coverage of the events they are following and so, they actively refuse to watch it. I believe the build-up surrounding the testimonies of Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford and the historical testimonies themselves have further polarized the nation, thus furthering this aspect of news consumption in the United States, as well as my own.

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.  Ashton Eggers  10/1/2018

Reference Links:

(1). Washington Post Live Coverage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPyRKSFuMes

(2). MSNBC Coverage Viewed 9/28/2018, Hardball: https://www.msnbc.com/hardball

How Do I Consume Media?