Media manipulation Quotes

People will always try to scare you into things. Scare you away from things. Scare you into not wanting things you can't help wanting. You can't be afraid.

Manipulating the media is akin to poisoning a nation’s water supply – it affects all of our lives in unimaginable ways.

If it’s true that nothing is more potent than an idea, then those who control the media can direct minds en masse.

It’s becoming obvious to most that mainstream media is nothing but a megaphone for the global elite to present biased news that’s designed to align the masses with their agenda.

(Talking about the movement to deny the prevalence and effects of adult sexual exploitation of children)
So what does this movement consist of? Who are the movers and shakers? Well molesters are in it, of course. There are web pages telling them how to defend themselves against accusations, to retain confidence about their ‘loving and natural’ feelings for children, with advice on what lawyers to approach, how to complain, how to harass those helping their children. Then there’s the Men’s Movements, their web pages throbbing with excitement if they find ‘proof’ of conspiracy between feminists, divorcing wives and therapists to victimise men, fathers and husbands.
Then there are journalists. A few have been vitally important in the US and Britain in establishing the fightback, using their power and influence to distort the work of child protection professionals and campaign against children’s testimony. Then there are other journalists who dance in and out of the debates waggling their columns behind them, rarely observing basic journalistic manners, but who use this debate to service something else – a crack at the welfare state, standards, feminism, ‘touchy, feely, post-Diana victimhood’. Then there is the academic voice, landing in the middle of court cases or inquiries, offering ‘rational authority’. Then there is the government. During the entire period of discovery and denial, not one Cabinet minister made a statement about the prevalence of sexual abuse or the harm it caused.
Finally there are the ‘retractors’. For this movement to take off, it had to have ‘human interest’ victims – the accused – and then a happy ending – the ‘retractors’. We are aware that those ‘retractors’ whose parents trail them to newspapers, television studios and conferences are struggling. Lest we forget, they recanted under palpable pressure.

There's not a branch of publishing or broadcasting that doesn't depend in some way on advertising. It'd be like an aquarium without water. Why, ninety-five percent of the information that reaches you has already been preselected and paid for.

From Colin A. Ross, 1995: The writer is the brother of the man who co-founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He is writing to WGBH about a program called 'Divided Memories', which you may have seen, that was supposed to be an investigation of memory. This letter also went to Congress and to the press, so it's a public letter. It's just unfortunate that the press, as far as I know, didn't pick it up.
'Gentlemen: Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn [their daughters] are my nieces. There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam, while they were raising their daughters. Peter said (on your show, 'Divided Memories') that his humor was ribald. Those of us who had to endure it, remember it as abusive at best and viciously sadistic at worst. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise. That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media. Neither Peter's mother (who was also mine), nor his daughters, nor I have wanted anything to do with Peter and Pam for periods of time ranging up to more than two decades. We do not understand why you would 'buy' such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality. For the most part you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredibly bizarre and exotic alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents, While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators, most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the mainstream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting television, it certainly does not make for more objectivity and fairness. I would advance the idea that 'Divided Memories' hurt victims, helped abusers and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public broadcasting is funded to support.

In the specific case of the use of the term false memory to describe errors in details in laboratory tasks (e.g., in word-learning tasks), the media and public are set up all too easily to interpret such research as relevant to false memories of abuse because the term is used in the public domain to refer to contested memories of abuse. Because the term false memory is inextricably tied in the public to a social movement that questions the veracity of memories for childhood sexual abuse, the use of the term in scientific research that evaluates memory errors for details (not whole events) must be evaluated in this light."
What's in a Name for Memory Errors? Implications and Ethical Issues Arising From the Use of the Term False Memory for Errors in Memory for Details, Journal: Ethics & Behavior 14(3) pages 201-233, 2004

The Legend of Robert Halsey
This article examines the criminal conviction of Robert Halsey for sexually abusing two young boys on his school-van route near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Halsey's name has been invoked by academics, journalists, and activists as the victim of the witch hunt in this country over child sexual abuse. Based on a comprehensive examination of the trial transcript, this article details the overwhelming evidence of guilt against Mr. Halsey. The credulous acceptance of the false conviction legend about Robert Halsey provides a case study in the techniques and tactics used to minimize and deny sexual abuse, while promoting a narrative about ritual abuse and witch hunts that apparently requires little or no factual basis. The second part of this article analyzes how the erroneous false conviction narrative about Robert Halsey was constructed and how it gained widespread acceptance. The Legend of Robert Halsey provides a cautionary tale about how easy it is to wrap even the guiltiest person in a cloak of righteous witch hunt claims. Cases identified as false convictions by defense lawyers and political activists deserve far greater scrutiny from the media and the public.
journal: Cheit, Ross E. "The Legend of Robert Halsey." Journal of child sexual abuse 9.3-4 (2002): 37-52.

We propose that use of the term false memory to describe errors in memory for details directly contributes to removing the social context of abuse from research on memory for trauma. As the term false memories has increasingly been used to describe errors in details, the scientific weight of the term has increased. In turn, we see that the term false memories is treated as a construct supported by scientific fact, whereas other terms associated with questions about the veracity of abuse memories have been treated as suspect. For example, recovered memories often appears in quotations, whereas false memories does not (Campbell, 2003).The quotation marks suggest that one term is questioned, whereas the other is accepted as fact. Accepting false memories of abuse as fact reflects the subtle assimilation of the term into the cognitive literature, where the term is used increasingly to describe intrusions of semantically related words into lists of related words. The term, rooted in the controversy over the accuracy of abuse memories recalled during psychotherapy (Schacter, 1999), implies generalization of errors in details to memory for abuse—experienced largely by women and children (Campbell, 2003)."
from: What's in a Name for Memory Errors? Implications and Ethical Issues Arising From the Use of the Term False Memory for Errors in Memory for Details, Journal: Ethics & Behavior

The witch-hunt narrative is now the conventional wisdom about these cases. That view is so widely endorsed and firmly entrenched that so widely endorsed and firmly entrenched that there would seem to be nothing left to say about these cases. But a close examination of the witch hunt canon leads to some unsettling questions: Why is there so little in the way of academic scholarship about these cases? Almost all of the major witch-hunt writings have been in magazines, often without any footnotes to verify or assess the claims made. Why hasn't anyone writing about these cases said anything about how difficult they are to research? There are so many roadblocks and limitations to researching these cases that it would seem incumbent on any serious writer to address the limitations of data sources. Many of these cases seem to have been researched in a manner of days or weeks. Nevertheless, the cases are described in a definitive way that belies their length and complexity, along with the inherent difficulty in researching original trial court documents. This book is based on the first systematic examination of court records in these cases.

[Refers to 121 children taken into care in Cleveland due to suspected abuse (1987) and later returned to their parents]
Sue Richardson, the child abuse consultant at the heart of the crisis, watched as cases began to unravel:
All the focus started to fall on the medical findings; other supportive evidence, mainly which we held in the social services department, started to be screened out. A situation developed where the cases either were proven or fell on the basis of medical evidence alone. Other evidence that was available to the court, very often then, never got put. We would have had statement from the child, the social workers and the child psychologist’s evidence from interviewing. We would have evidence of prior concerns, either from social workers or teachers, about the child’s behaviour or other symptoms that they might have been showing, which were completely aside from the medical findings. (Channel 4 1997)
Ten years after the Cleveland crisis, Sue Richardson was adamant that evidence relating to children’s safety was not presented to the courts which subsequently returned those children to their parents:
I am saying that very clearly. In some cases, evidence was not put in the court. In other cases, agreements were made between lawyers not to put the case to the court at all, particularly as the crisis developed. Latterly, that children were sent home subject to informal agreements or agreements between lawyers. The cases never even got as far as the court. (Channel 4, 1997)
Nor is Richardson alone. Jayne Wynne, one of the Leeds paediatricians who had pioneered the use of RAD as an indicator of sexual abuse and who subsequently had detailed knowledge of many of the Cleveland children, remains concerned by the haphazard approach of the courts to their protection.
I think the implication is that the children were left unprotected. The children who were being abused unfortunately returned to homes and the abuse may well have been ongoing. (Channel 4 1997)

I find it disturbing that one anthropologist's readings of transcripts are being listened to more seriously than 40 senior health service clinicians.
[Referring to Jean La Fontaine's 1994 research paper for the DOH]

It is often said that Vietnam was the first television war. By the same token, Cleveland was the first war over the protection of children to be fought not in the courts, but in the media. By the summer of 1987 Cleveland had become above all, a hot media story. The Daily Mail, for example, had seven reporters, plus its northern editor, based in Middlesbrough full time. Most other news papers and television news teams followed suit.
What were all the reporters looking for? Not children at risk. Not abusing adults. Aggrieved parents were the mother lode sought by these prospecting journalists. Many of these parents were only too happy to tell — and in some cases, it would appear, sell— their stories. Those stories are truly extraordinary.
In many cases they bore almost no relation to the facts. Parents were allowed - encouraged to portray themselves as the innocent victims of a runaway witch-hunt and these accounts were duly fed to the public. Nowhere in any of the reporting is there any sign of counterbalancing information from child protection workers or the organisations that employed them. Throughout the summer of 1987 newspapers ‘reported’ what they termed a national scandal of innocent families torn apart. The claims were repeated in Parliament and then recycled as established ‘facts’ by the media. The result was that the courts themselves began to be paralysed by the power of this juggernaut of press reporting — ‘journalism’ which created and painstakingly fed a public mood which brooked no other version of the story. (p21)

...Cleveland was the first war over the protection of children to be fought not in the courts, but in the media...
Given that most of the hearings took place out of sight of the press, the following examples are taken from the recollection of child protection workers present in court. In one case, during a controversy that centred fundamentally around disputes over the meaning of RAD [reflex anal dilatation], a judge refused to allow ‘any evidence about children’s bottoms’ in his courtroom.
A second judge — hearing an application to have their children returned by parents about whom social services had grave worries told the assembled lawyers that, as she lived in the area, she could not help but be influenced by what she read in the press.
Hardly surprising then that child protection workers soon found courts not hearing their applications, cutting them short, or loosely supervising informal deals which allowed children to be sent back to parents, even in cases where there was explicit evidence of apparent abuse to be explained and dealt with. (p21)
[reflex anal dilatation (RAD): a simple clue which is suggestive of anal penetration from outside. It had been recognised as a valuable weapon in the armoury of doctors examining children for many decades and was endorsed by both the British Medical Association and the Association of Police Surgeons. (p18)]

But nothing in my previous work had prepared me for the experience of reinvestigating Cleveland. It is worth — given the passage of time — recalling the basic architecture of the Crisis: 121 children from many different and largely unrelated families had been taken into the care of Cleveland County Council in the three short months of the summer of 1987. (p18)
The key to resolving the puzzle of Cleveland was the children. What had actually happened to them? Had they been abused - or had the paediatricians and social workers (as public opinion held) been over-zealous and plain wrong? Curiously — particularly given its high profile, year-long sittings and £5 million cost — this was the one central issue never addressed by the Butler-Sloss judicial testimony and sifting of internal evidence, the inquiry's remit did not require it to answer the main question. Ten years after the crisis, my colleagues and I set about reconstructing the records of the 121 children at its heart to determine exactly what had happened to them... (p19)
Eventually, though, we did assemble the data given to the Butler-Sloss Inquiry. This divided into two categories: the confidential material, presented in camera, and the transcripts of public sessions of the hearings. Putting the two together we assembled our own database on the children each identified only by the code-letters assigned to them by Butler-Sloss.
When it was finished, this database told a startlingly different story from the public myth. In every case there was some prima fade evidence to suggest the possibility of abuse. Far from the media fiction of parents taking their children to Middlesbrough General Hospital for a tummy ache or a sore thumb and suddenly being presented with a diagnosis of child sexual abuse, the true story was of families known to social services for months or years, histories of physical and sexual abuse of siblings and of prior discussions with parents about these concerns. In several of the cases the children themselves had made detailed disclosures of abuse; many of the pre-verbal children displayed severe emotional or behavioural symptoms consistent with sexual abuse. There were even some families in which a convicted sex offender had moved in with mother and children. (p20)


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