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November 26, 1986 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-11-26

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Page 4 Wednesday, November 26, 1986 The Michigan Daily

Media stifles





By Michael Fischer
America is a patriotic country. In fact,
we Americans love our country so
selflessly that only one-third of us who
were able to vote made it out to the polls
last Tuesday. Apparently, the voter
turnout in the recent election was our
lowest in 44 years. A real testament to
our pride.
As far as apathy is concerned, though,
there's more than just mere negligence to
account for this. The act of registering
and voting,
Something essentially simple to do,
becomes a frustrating experience when
someone begins to feel that his vote is
useless. It's no wonder that people begin
to feel insignificant when the media,
television in particular, stifles our interest
with pre-election predictions and glossily-
stylized, no-content campaign advertising.
Rather than sparking the fires of public
interest with responsible information, the
TV and the press are suffocating it.When
combined with the realization of the
private-interest groups' enormous
influence in the political system, this can
all be enough to make one feel that his
vote really doesn't make a difference, that
it isn't really worth the trouble.
Some real trouble with the democratic
system in this country lies in the rising
of the big media's threateningly pervasive
influence within the very mechanisms of
the nation's political system. Television,
radio, newspapers and the like circulate
images and information which form our
conceptions of what reality is. In 1
Fischer is a member of the Arts page staff.

situations like an election we are called
upon to make decisions, based upon thse
concepts, which create a new reality, such
as a change in the government. The
danger arises when the media's systems of
information are manipulated by powerful
political forces and candidates wishing to
gain the upper hand. Another threat to the
integrity of this system is the
abandonment of journalistic ethics for
better ratings and circulation. The result
is a skewing of the information we count
upon to know what's going on.
The theoretical purpose of the media is
to provide the public with accurate and
useful information which will help in
grasping a realistic view of our world.
Unfortunately, in this interconnected,
complex communication society, the
television and press end up more and
more often creating reality rather than
reporting it. This revealed itself more
clearly than ever in the political arena of
the '86 elections, as cynically calculated
personality-images continued to shroud
and overwhelm the true substance of
debate of the poltical issues as the basis
of campaigns for office, and as pre-
election polls and forecasts darkened the
election climate with the shadow of
The headlines after the election (Daily,
11/5/86) declared the expected results of
the election for governor: Mr. Blanchard
wins by a landslide. I read it with
disappointment and a bit of disgust. This
had less to do with my political attitudes
for the race than it did with the frustration
I felt, the realization that powerful factors

beyond the common person's control are
influencing the outcomes of our
elections, destroying the dignity of the
individual's vote. Before the election, the
TV and papers had flooded the forum with
polls indicating a lead for Blanchard over
his opponent, Lucas, by a fantastic
distance. These polls sap the election of
all it's excitement and anticipation; the
event itself becomes an anticlimax.
This all creates a self-fulfilling
prophecy. Of course, I'm not saying for a
second that Lucas would have had a prayer
without the polls, but they certainly
influenced the race and voter turnout. No
influence is tolerable if the media claims
integrity. In close races, it can make the
decisive difference. Public opinion
estimates can fuel the herd instinct, as
borderline, undecided voters may jump on
the bandwagon of the leader. The
underdog's supporters may lose faith, and
the gap of support begins to widen.
Apathy in general results, and a fatalistic
attitude develops as people begin to figure
that it's already decided and out of their
hands. Projections and polls are also
subject to error, not to mention that in
the worst possible scenario, they could be
intentionally manipulated for advantage
and power. The question is this: although
polls are decidedly necessary for campaign
strategists, is this information which the
public should have or even needs? Your
vote should be based on a personal
decision, not what "everyone else" thinks.
Even worse, this alters voter turnout.
When people are discouraged from voting
by projections of failure for high-profile
candidates, similar-party candidates further

down the ticket in lesser races can lose
crucial votes. It seems stupid to even hold
a general election sometimes; why not
just save us the hassle of voting and just
have the pollsters do their rounds and
determine the results?
With the spectre of TV and newspaper
forecasts of a cakewalk for Blanchard
looming ominously, Lucas' campaign
was forced into last-resort strategies of
ridiculous pre-election rhetoric, trying to
ignite the vacuum of debate in the race, a
vacuum of disinterest within a public
bored with the race on account of media
predictions which said "no contest."
The science of the skilled campaign
media-consultants grows ever powerful in
it's ability to manipulate what we get to
see and hear. Blanchard's advisors were
not stupid; they said, Jim, you've got a
huge lead, don't take a chance on any TV
debates. And he repeatedy turned down
offers to participate in broadcast debates
with Lucas. What we get these days
instead of debate is superficial, no-
content, cleverly manipulative political
advertising which treats you like an idiot.
You've seen and read them, all the
slogans and images, "strong leader,"
"tough on crime," "a real family man," "a
swell guy," etc. You've also seen the
negative ads, the back-stabbing and
strikes under the belt, the
misreprestentions of voting records, the
slurs. This wasn't invented recently, but
now, in today's society, where television
dominates our perception of reality, the
candidate who hasn't got the enormous
support of money and resources to

compete in this MTV market is likely to
lose to an opponent who does. An
interesting analysis during NBC's election
coverage noted how well the Democrats
had done where they were able to field
candidates with strong names an
personalities, such as Joe Kennedy in
Massachusetts and the animated Barbara
Mikulski in Maryland. There's a big
danger in all this, as the path ominously
leads to an Orwellian, Big-Brother type
image-formula for politicians, depending
on image, not issues. Ronald Reagan is
the most brilliant example of this,
manipulating the media to form such an
admirable image that people who disagre
with his policies say they would vote for
him because they like him. A politician
noble enough to campaign only on issues
is doomed these days. Not surprisingly,
as the Christian Science Monitor
supposed recently, the ugly and gravelly-
voiced Abraham Lincoln wouldn't have a
chance to win in today's media market.
What to do? Well, pressure on the TV
networks succeeded in getting them tc4
stop making election projections while
the polls are open. Still, what's the
difference; people have usually made up
their minds beforehand. It's hard to trust a
medium as hypocritical as this.More
pressure could convince them that this
forecasting business is unethical and
damging to the purity of our vote. The
best thing you can do is to keep yourself
really informed and skeptical of the
media's easily-manipulated images,
maintain the independence of your
thinking. Otherwise your vote will really
be just a drop in the ocean.

01 lr irbigan 1rai1n
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVII, No. 60 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

HVE EYT~at blgE-
AOWL'er F4ALlT1.

Tc roLKO



Foreien Dolicv in the


Losing faith

From the start the Iranian arms
deal has been a comedy of errors.
Yesterday it was revealed that
$10 million to $30 million from
the sale went into a Swiss bank
account held by the Contras.
Sadly, this comedy has become a
The resignation of National
Security Advisor John Poindexter
and the firing of Lt. Col. Oliver
North illustrates the dangerous
disarray of U.S. foreign policy.
According to Ed Meese, North was
the only administration official
aware of the operation which
transferred the money to the
Contras in January, long before
Congress approved resuming aid to
This fiasco would have been
averted had the president not
decided to team up with the
National Security Council to
singlehandedly form U.S. policy.
The State Department, which
supposedly advises the president
on foreign policy questions, has
still not been informed about the
details of the shipment. Monday,
Deputy Secretary of State, John C.
Whitehead, refuted Reagan's claim
that Iran has halted terrorist activity
by acknowledging "evidence of
continued Iranian involvement with
Had Reagan listened to the State
Department he would have seen the
ineffectiveness of his policy. Also,
soon after after the deal was
finalized terrorists captured three
more American hostages.
Reagan used the NSC to keep
the deal secret from Congress for
the past ten months. The 1977
National Security Act requires the

whatever his omnipotent NSC
wished. Reagan is taking foreign
policy down a dangerous course
without the input of Congress or
his Secretary of State.The need for
Congress to be notified of such
actions has been exhibited by the
way the Iran deal has gotten out of
The president misrepresented the
deal to the American public in a
televised press conference. He
attempted to downplay the number
and strength of arms, and claimed
they were shoulder-carried and
purely defensive. Sam Nunn,
(D--Georgia), head of the Foreign
Relations Committee, said this
shipment was not "miniscule" and
the weapons are as equally
offensive as defensive.
Reagan further dashed any
remaining credibility by admitting-
one of the goals of the shipment
was "to effect the release of our
hostages." He then, in the same
news conference, vehemently
denied any relation between the
shipment and the hostages.
Finally, Reagan said there was
no middleman in the arms deal; to
rectify this statement a clarification
was drawn up before the end of his
conference to ensure there was no
"misunderstanding of one of my
answers tonight," and admitted a'
third party's involvement. Clearly,
the president is either ignorant of
the details or was still trying to hide
something in a conference in which
he was supposed to level with the
The fact the Contras got the
money shows how poorly and
dangerously the policy was run.
This disaster is the worst example

IMPA C is bipartisan


To the Daily:
We are disr yed by Debbie
K. Schlussel6 I 'tter to the
Daily "IMPAC Left Out of the
Mainstream" (Daily, 11/14/86)
in which she attempts to argue
that IMPAC (Involved in
Michigan Political Action
Committee) is "flagrantly" and
"exclusively" partisan to liberal
candidates. This letter is more a
reflection of Schlussel's deep-
rooted conservative Republican
partisanship and activism - a
former intern for Mark
Siljander and Validictorian of
Teen Republicans - than an
accurate portrayal of IMPAC's
intentions and past history of
which Schlussel is fully aware.
For the record, IMPAC
supports and contributes to
candidates for House and Senate
races who are committed to
U.S.-Israel relations and the
Middle East peace process,
AFFILIATION. It is true that
we supported Democratic
Congressman Paul Simon of
Illinois in his 1984 Senate
victory, and that we recently
supported incumbents Bob Carr
of East Lansing and Ed
Feighan of Cleveland, both
Democrats, in their successful
bids at re-election. Our criteria
for supporting them and others
in the future is to be involved
in close races that will impact
on U.S.-Israel relations in

both sides of the aisle in
Congress. IMPAC considered
supporting Republican
candidates this past Election
Day as last Spring we talked of
a road trip to Pennsylvania to
turn out the vote for
Republican Senator Arlen
Specter. The possibility was
even raised of travelling to
Wisconsin to support
conservative Republican
Senator Robert Kasten. Yet it
was decided that IMPAC could
maximize its influence and be
recognized for its efforts by
candidates in crucial House
races closer to home. Another
factor, of course, is supporting
your friends in Congress. As
Debbie Schlussel is well
aware, in politics, friends must
be rewarded and IMPAC
realized the importance of of
supporting Carr , who sits on
the House Appropriations
Committee, and Feighan - a
member of the House Middle
East Subcommittee - two
candidates with proven and
outspoken records of support
for Israel. Carr incidentally,
has, over hist past five terms
in Congress, gone out of his
way and reached out to the pro-
Israel community nationwide,
initiating and co-sponsooring
legislation encouraging the
advancement of the Camp
David Peace Process and
restricting arms sales to states
nt wn.wit Trna T -h,_,

hence, our "liberal Democratic
bias" - she should be aware that
a number of members on the
Exec. Council are in fact,
conservative Republicans - one
of whom worked at the White
House this past summer. We
all feel that the pro-Israel issue
is paramount in our off-campus
activism on Election Day and
that explains why conservative
Republicans from - IMPAC
stood on cold street corners on
Nov. 4, handing out leaflets for
liberal Democratic
As for the contention that we
supported Carr only because
our Chairperson, Lisa Bardach,
worked as a Congressional
intern for him this past
summer, this too is incorrect.
The decision to support Bob
Carr was made last April,
before Ms. Bardach even
considered spending part of her
summer on Capitol Hill. Or
should we assume that, if Mark
Siljander had not lost in the
Primary, Debbie Schlussel
would not have worked on his
campaign simply because she
served as an intern for his
We respect Ms. Schlussel's

criteria for supporting
candidates because they are
conservative Republicans. She
should then recognize
IMPAC's right to support
candidates based on their pro-
Israel records, be they
Democrat or Republican,
conservative or liberal.
If Debbie is as concerne
about U.S.-Israel relations as
some of her other past
activities have reflected, we
openly invite her (and others)
to become a member of
IMPAC's decision making
process and join us in future
activities, in Election and non-
Election years. All it takes is
$15 in membership duesa4
commitment to the U.S.-Israel
relationship and the ability to
disregard trivial political
-Lisa Bardach, Jeff
Parness, Sandy Hauser,
Ed Mehrfar, Andrew
Lustigman, Marcy
Freedman, Ferne
Pearlstein and Garyl
Executive Council,
Nov. 16, 1986


The Daily welcomes letters from its


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