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Analyzing a letter to the editor

April 28, 2004
Analyzing a letter to the editor

Dave Johnson over on The American Street dissects a letter to the editor that’s plainly of the type that make veins stand out on my forehead.

His conclusion is frightening, and I think it’s possibly as accurate an interpretation as I’ve seen.

One Response to Analyzing a letter to the editor

  • That’s one reason my wife keeps trying to take the Letters to the Editor away from me at the breakfast table. She’s afraid I’m going to have a stroke some day over it.

    My quibbles with the article are twofold. First off, it’s a classic straw man — don’t look at what the letter writer’s saying, but attribute to him first all sorts of other unsavory (to the intended audience) characteristics. If I said, “Well, that Dave Johnson, he probably listens to Air America, and gets his news from the Democratic Underground,” it would be equally unfair (and equally beside the point).

    Second, while there are indeed differences between news coverage of US war dead returning home and political ads that show the casualties of 9/11, that point would probably be stronger if those coffin images *weren’t* being also loudly played up by those against Bush — used as backdrops for cartoons and satire (e.g., http://www.george-says.com), used as illustrations to demonstrate the Evil That Is This Administration, and the like. Those images are not being solely (or even primarily) used for news and documentary purposes, to give people information to draw their own conclusions, but instead for a political agenda and message.

    I do agree with Johnson that there are too many people dealing with news and information primarily for the “spin” it provides their side’s “movement,” but I disagree with the implication that it’s *just* the “conservatives” doing this.