Week Four

Module 4: Analyze

Warren and Sanders vs Army of Darkness

The battle for the viability of presidential candidates in the 2020 election is a slow drip of news. The news will not become less numerous, albeit it is ever-growing in relevance and importance. Media stories will undoubtedly exhibit headlines that will take different approaches to showcase the significance of the multitude of candidate’s policy proposals.

In this example of media analysis, I will endeavor to analyze this news story by Vox media that attempts to explains the details concerning democratic hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders’ healthcare proposals. The article does not expand to an overall reflection of the candidates’ platform but focuses directly on the dynamic of the two on healthcare in the 2nd Democratic debate.

As I have previously described in other blog posts, Vox media is a well known, independently operated, largely neutral digital media source. Whether or not you agree with the platform, upon examination, the news source appears to be largely neutral and refrains from egregious insertion of opinion. The viewer’s interest in certain content may contain information, by de facto, that only creates a filter-bubble by uninformed viewership.

Although within an article streamlined in substance and content, the explanation and defense of the proposed Medicare-for-all policy will be a key distinguishing factor for the two progressive candidates. The way this article presents the facts surrounding this portion of the debate will attempt to be an isolating factor in the run-up to the election.

The article was written by and reflects the analysis of policy and politics reporter Tara Golshan. Although described as only being active for Vox since 2016, the article’s content is verifiable in that it was publically broadcast for the consumption of the general public. I am not as concerned about the accuracy of the article surrounding the story, and more concerned with the framing or any potential underlying bias.

Despite framing the article to be critical and/or lenient to the candidates as a mixed bag, the underlying opinion is often unavoidable. As the author explains the candidate’s actions and message in the debate, she tends to paint polarizing narratives of the candidates’ performances. It becomes obvious that the reporter writes largely positively of the candidates’ performances, but she paints Sanders as aggressive and Warren as approachable throughout the article. At various points, she runs counter to her methodology when she slips in softened versions of that narrative.

Overall, Golshan is fair to all candidates in the debate but she portrays a rift in the eager democratic candidates. Painting a picture of Warren and Sanders vs the world (progressive vs moderate candidates) is, in my opinion, often detrimental to the candidates’ messaging. Although intentionally aggressive in nature, there seems to be an underlying knock against the candidates’ largely unified policy platform. Rather than describing an ultimately effective union of two candidates, describing a contemptuous divide is a more effective news reporting method.

It seems evident that the framing of the story in this way creates an opportunity to synthesize interest in the story more so than fairly or accurately describing the content. Like is common and almost obligatory in today’s fast news cycle, the creation of a shocking and eye-catching headline is almost a necessity. Rather than fairly framing a story of cohesion, the article is likely to become more effective to the public’s interest by creating a story of conflict. Similar to the headline I created above in this blog post, the general public is more likely to seek out a story that contains conflict than solidarity. To be fair, this is common practice and this article is not overly guilty of this maneuver.

In a fictional scenario where I would be qualified to give this story a collegiate-like letter grade, I would give it a B+. This article gives all of the predefined appearances of fairness and objectivity, but it fails in that it clearly creates a framework of establishment bias. It is not as though the reporting is inaccurate or unfair, only that it intentionally creates a scenario that will be subconsciously dividing of the two sides of the same party. Please don’t get me wrong, the story is effective but it falls into the popular category of divisive politics. Let’s be fair, my own confirmation bias is likely to be present in my grading procedure.