Rhetoric In The Media

Jamie Demetriou
Jamie Demetriou
Soc 202
Dr. Wood
02/28/01
Many times we hear things through media and dont actually listen to what they may say. When people hear something through mass media, they dont realize that there is a persons point of view stated in the story. And many times what people dont see is that there is no such thing as an objective point of view. This is called Rhetoric; when someone states their point of view using words that either sway an audiences opinions one way or another. Rhetoric can be found in many places such as a T.V add or a commercial, magazine articles and advertisements, the news, and even radio commercials.
Watching the regular news as I frequently do, I always hear the way a reporter speaks about a topic and immediately I know the view that that particular reporter takes. This happens in many instances, but one time in particular caught my attention. A reporter was doing a story on vandalism. Usually you hear about vandalism on abortion clinics and harassment of that sort, and usually the reporter uses the words Anti-abortionists to describe the people who commit these crimes. One the other hand this time was different. The reporter was doing a story on vandalism that happened on a church billboard, outside the church, and the billboard said something having to do with pro-life and the choice that they believed in. Later that night there was a huge black question mark that was spray painted on that saying. The reporter described the church as putting up a sign that was Pro-life, and said that the vandalism was not yet found.
Although the topic of the story seems minor, and as if there is nothing behind it, that helps to lead to my conclusion. The fact is that the reporter herself must be a pro-life believer and decided to want to do a story on what happened. She was able to tell her story in the way she wanted to, using the term pro-life she is ably to sway an audiences opinion not against the church for being against abortion, but against people who commit vandalism on such point of views. This is more important than we realize, when someone is able to do a story that is only a minute of our time yet subconsciously we dont realize that this reporter has already swayed our opinion.
Sometimes peoples point of view, in the media, is more apparent than others. For example, I was listening to the radio the other day, and I heard a commercial that caught my attention. It was the voice of our former president, Mr. Bill Clinton that was being imitated by someone. The mans voice seemed a little dopey, and a little bit weaker, high pitched, and scratchy, but you could tell that it was an imitation of Clintons voice. There was the typical presidential music in the background bit it was being played low, as apposed to loud and annoying. He starts to speak about these great sales that he has seen at an auto dealer, and we have to come down now and see the great buys that can save us a lot of money. He then goes on to say that this is great for him because he actually has to pay for things now. After that he asks if we might know anyone who might want to buy a good silverware set, and theres a little bit more on how low the prices are on these cars and where the place is located. The end part is what really stuck my attention, he is finished telling the audience about the dealership when someone with a deep voice thats rough says Watch it buddy! and acts as if hes bumping or even pushing Clinton. In return Clinton replies Well pardon me, which is what I should have done for myself last week.
Many people would over look this commercial not realizing what is really being said here. If someone looks carefully they can see that Clinton is being portrayed as a weak individual. He has a weak, high-pitched, scratchy voice, and at the end someone just pushes him as if hes a nobody. This also implies that no one would recognize him in public, or maybe no one really cares. And above all it implies that he just takes the abuse from people and doesnt do anything about it. The advertisement is also comparing him to a car sales men, which could have some significance if you have any idea about the former presidents past history of what he did in and out of his presidency. There is also a lot of reference to what he did in his presidency, such as the silverware that he allegedly stole from the plane, and the gifts that were received in the white house. There is also a reference to money and how he cant afford anything now because everything was always taken care of for him. The last part where he is pushed is where the attention grabber definitely grabbed me, when the reference to the pardons was made. What is says to me is that Clintons in a lot of trouble now that hes not protected by his presidency, and he should have given himself a pardon like the rest of the people so he could erase his past, because thats what a pardon does.
Many times, more so than not, we dont hear the small details that advertisers add in. The people who write the news and who make up the commercials that we see or hear do it carefully. Although we dont realize it, the words they use have a subconscious effect on us. We usually pass on what we have heard using some of the same words the person who told us, and when it goes through the chain we dont realize what we are saying. If we actually thought about what we said, maybe clichs would have never been born. The media decides what we are to hear and how we are to think of the topic, either in a negative way or a positive. I believe that if people educate themselves to listen and interpret what they hear, that the media would have a harder time swaying our opinions.