Fox News Latino reported a story Monday under the headline, “Inauguration ‘Blues': Ceremony Falls on ‘Most Depressing Day of the Year.’
The story was pegged to a supposition by a psychologist in the U.K. who believes that the third Monday in January is, for a variety of reasons, the most depressing day of the year. The designation of “Blue Monday” takes into account such things as personal debt, the post-holiday letdown that many people experience, and even the weather, according to the Fox News Latino report.
To the credit of Fox News Latino, the designation is labeled as pseudoscience in the second paragraph.
The report quickly moves away from the inauguration reference, which after the headline appears only once – in the third paragraph – and offers suggestions for those who may feel down this time of year. Those suggestions include getting out into the sunshine, beginning or maintaining an exercise regimen, and scheduling some fun time into your week.
It’s about spin.
The “hook” of the inauguration to an article about a phenomenon of questionable scientific validity shows how mass media can skew reporting to play on people’s perceptions. The inauguration itself prompted different responses from different quarters. For example, my wife was physically ill Monday. She couldn’t bring herself to watch the inauguration ceremonies on television, marking as they did the start of another four years of an Obama administration.
How did you read that? Remember, we’re discussing perception.
The fact is that my wife was ill. She was taking medication prescribed to her by her doctor, and was improving. She slept in Monday morning, even though she was awakened early enough in the morning by her coughs to have watched the inauguration on television. She chose instead to rest, and to catch up on the events of the day, later in the day.
She’s a supporter of the president: She has voted for him twice now. She would have thoroughly enjoyed watching the inauguration live on television, but was not well enough to do so.
Did you catch how I did that? I started the column by alluding to the inauguration in a negative context, using a report from Fox News Latino that linked Inauguration Day to depression. I then wrote the sentences about my wife in a way that, based on the reader’s perception, may lead one to believe that my wife was not a supporter of the president. I didn’t say it, but the context of the column would tend to lead you to believe so, even though the opposite is true.
That’s how a message can be twisted.
Local columnist Mike Kirchubel this past week completed a three-column series on how Fox News covers the news. He makes valid points throughout the series, but makes no effort to note that what he implies is business as usual at Fox News also takes place at left-leaning news organizations, such as MSNBC, for example.
The message I would send, and do send, is for the viewing audience – and readers – to be skeptical of opinion masquerading as news, whatever the source. This column and Mr. Kirchubel’s columns, for example, appear in the Opinion page and in the Opinion category on the Daily Republic’s website. The Fox News Latino report appeared under the Health category on its website, which to me is a news category.
That’s just my perception. And my wife is feeling much better.
Reach Glen Faison at 427-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.