More Media Manipulation

Barb Wire

One could rightly ask: Why bother doing media interviews if you know they are going to deceptively distort and twist your words to push their own agenda? Good question. It sure does happen – and often. But not always thankfully. It is important to seek to get truth out into the public arena, so it is worth trying, despite all the abuse and flak.

I did yet another TV interview yesterday, and it was a prime example of how the media creates news and distorts facts, just to push an agenda. Happens regularly of course, and I have experienced it firsthand many times over many years of doing such interviews.

This one was a Channel 9 interview for the evening news. It concerned comments made by an education adviser to the Federal Government about the possibility of bringing corporal punishment back to our schools, given the overwhelming issues we have today with discipline (or the lack thereof), violence, and other problems.

The person in question is Kevin Donnelly, an education expert, who said in a radio interview that only if wanted by the parents, school and community, and only as a last resort, there might be a place to return to some form of corporal punishment.

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He did say those days are now long gone, and it was only a tangential and brief aspect of a larger interview. But of course the lamestream media picked up on it and made a big stink about it. The media thrives on controversy, and often they in fact create the controversy.

So anyway, I get a call from Ch. 9 asking me what I think, and if they could come around and do an interview. So they did. As usual, it went for around 15 minutes with around 8-10 questions. Then of course it goes back to the editing room, where anything and everything can happen.

And that was certainly the case here. My comments were ripped out of context, manipulated, and used to make me look like an ogre. But a bit of context here: I watched all three late afternoon and early evening newscasts on Ch. 9. All of them ran with the story, but without any of my comments.

On all of them, it was clear that Ch. 9 hated the very idea of corporal punishment in any form and in any place, and were seeking to demonize Donnelly and also Tony Abbott. Thus they brought in basically just critical voices, whether various “experts” or parents, etc.

They all decried any sort of smacking or physical discipline as “violence” and “torture”. They all were appalled at the very idea and the whole impression given in these “news” stories was that this man was evil, and so too is Abbott. Hey, any excuse will do for the lefty media to bash Abbott and the Liberals.

So after these newscasts I thought, “Oh well, another wasted interview”. But immediately following was the Ch. 9 show, A Current Affair. Evidently not content with all the Abbott bashing, they wanted to milk this story for all it’s worth.

And sure enough, it was more of the same, with more bashing of Donnelly, calling for his head, or at least resignation, and by implication, more Abbott bashing. And this time a few short sound bites by me appeared. Let me first mention what I actually said in my interview.

During the 12 or so minutes, I said a number of things. I said that while in principle I agreed with Donnelly, it would likely never get off the ground, because of political correctness, our litigious society, and so on. And I said that even if it did come back in a few schools, with parental consent and direction, it would not be a panacea.

I said the breakdown of the family is a major cause of problems with children, with an absent father unleashing a whole range of problems, including discipline problems. So I said that this was the real area we must deal with. Discipline begins in the home, and when it is not found there (often because a father is not found there) then we will hardly find it in our schools.

I was even asked about the cane, and I said the method used would be up to the school, teachers and parents, if they do go back to corporal punishment. I even twice mentioned a personal experience of when I was a rowdy teenager, goofing off in class.

A burly High School teacher took me out into the hallway, tapped my chest with his finger, and made it clear that he would not tolerate such disruptive behavior. And that certainly worked. I was a perfect student for the rest of the term. So I said nothing about using the cane or a strap or anything like that in my interview.

And as far as I can tell, neither did Donnelly. So how did A Current Affair handle this story? Well, just like the three earlier news items, it focused almost exclusively on the cane. It showed pictures of it, talked about it, and had many graphics and video clips of poor kids being caned.

And in a diabolical, malicious fashion, the editors did their best to make it look like both of us fully favoured the cane, and were eager to see it restored. So they featured a biased section on poor little kiddies being caned, then cut to me, using one of my answers for a totally different question – the one in which I said, “Yes, in principle I agree…”

Those lousy sleazeballs! I never once said we should use the cane, but the editors made it look like I said just that I did. They deliberately and unethically manipulated my interview to push their own anti-smacking agenda! These guys know how to create their own version of reality – it can all nicely be done in the editors’ cutting room.

As to the actual debate about corporal punishment, one can legitimately question whether schools should use corporal punishment at all. But as both a Christian and a parent I am of course fully in support of loving discipline including at times a smack in the home – but I make that case elsewhere.

So all this was yet another exercise in media manipulation: interview someone, hack his words to death in the editor’s room, make him say what you want him to say, and paint him as evil. Piece of cake – and it happens all the time.

But there was one very funny and ironic twist to all this: despite Ch. 9’s attempt to push their anti-smacking agenda, they had a poll on this issue, and Tracy Grimshaw referred to it at the end of the segment. The result: something like 74 per cent of all respondents said yes, bring back corporal punishment into the schools!

Tracy’s jaw dropped and she was clearly gobsmacked by these numbers, so they very quickly cut the graphic! And the vote now stands at over 3300 in favor with just 1600 opposed. You gotta laugh. These elites try so hard to ram their own PC leftist agenda down the throats of the masses, but the masses keep refusing to fall for it, and keep standing up for what they believe in anyway.

So all in all it was an interesting exercise. As I say, I have had many other similar such experiences. The mainstream media has long ago given up on reporting the news and dealing with facts. It now basically creates the news and manipulates the news, and appeals to emotions instead.

No wonder the rise of the alternative media has been so remarkable.

The actual segment is now online here.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Bill Muehlenberg
Bill Muehlenberg, who was born in America, lives in Melbourne, Australia. He runs a web-based ministry of pro-faith, pro-family activism called CultureWatch: Bill is widely sought out by the media for comments on social issues, faith issues, and family issues, and has appeared on all the major television and radio news shows, current affairs shows, and debate programs. He is the author of In Defence of the Family; Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, and several other books.

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