Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 21, 2009

Obama Vs. Cheney: Media's Blasphemous Equivalency

Obama-Cheney-Gitmo.jpg

Take a look at what CNN and just about every other media outlet did today — in words as well as pictures. They took Obama’s major speech on terrorism and Dick Cheney’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute and put both men on a level playing field.

Update 1:

cheney-obama-1.jpg

What these examples also illustrate in the most blatant way — looking at this clip from The Guardian — is the media’s instinct to create conflict and negativity, and to water down political issues by personalizing them.

Note in both examples, by the way, how Cheney “comes first” (as we tend to read images left-to-right) as the demanding or commanding figure.

Update 2:

Obama-Cheney-3.jpg

In what the media has turned into a testosterone-charged, “Obama – Cheney “mano-a-mano” (a “clash,” a “duel,” a “collision”), the NYT headline story on Obama’s speech was illustrated by a photo of Dick’s anticipated “rebuttal.” Notice how the PC on the desktop streaming the Obama’s speech frames the President as Cheney’s warm up act. And then, nothing like dragging the wife into it. (Lynne Cheney is no one to mess with, either.)

Update 3:

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The folks at WAPO not only knocked themselves out in turning Obama’s speech into an Obama-Cheney video call-and-response, Dana Milbank dropped all pretense for analogy, turning the day into a heavyweight fight with his post, titled “A Thrilla Near the Hilla.” I have to share these clips with you, so you’ll have a vivid picture of the media down for the count:

It was the political world’s equivalent of Ali-Frazier, a televised smackdown between the president, giving a speech about terrorism at the National Archives, and the former vice president, jabbing back from across town at AEI. … On paper, Obama should be an easy victor in his duel with Cheney; Obama is viewed favorably by about 60 percent of the public, Cheney by about 25 percent. And yet Cheney seems to be winning this fight. … For the moment, at least, Obama’s intellectual arguments can’t match Cheney’s visceral rage.   

(h/t: KH)

(revised 5/23/09. 1 am PST)

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