You're being played: The top 5 types of catchwords the media uses to steal your heart

Don't be fooled. The only deficit most of the media cares about is your attention deficit...and they hate Romney to death. Photo: Joe Charles Dharapak/AP

OHATCHEE, Al., September 20, 2012 — “It’s like seeing someone in love with a person who is abusive and up to no good,” said the fellow student at the table across from mine during the collegiate breakout session. “They are emotional, beyond reason, and there is nothing you can do to talk them out of it.”

He was responding to my observation that whenever I try to engage in an informative discussion with a liberal, they simply respond with a cliché they have heard in the news.

It’s not just liberals, however. I have caught conservatives repeating media narratives without question as well.

Overall, the hero-worship of Barack Obama and scorning of Mitt Romney are gratuitous, unequivocal indulgences not befitting the free press of a federal republic. 

But in the 21st century, he who rules the talking points rules the world. Thus, an astute citizen must understand two things about the workings of the media.

CHANGE THE SUBJECT: The words have a sound that seem to astound, you’ve got to read between the lines … Now every time you see the headlines reading like the end is near / It’s only a bind to keep you confined ‘cause you know they’re playing on your fears / It’s all in your mind if you can read the signs and recognize a magician’s hand / You can see the design and understand the times and learn about the master plan / ‘Cause the power of words can change your world, don’t lose control / You’ve got to change the subject… - Sam Clark (click image to view album on iTunes)

Firstly, partisan media is actually a part of the American political tradition. When our two-party system was being developed in the late 18th century, the first order of business for a budding political party was to establish a party newspaper. Bias is to be expected. But who doesn’t get disgusted when commentators start calling plays, predicting scores, and pretending to know just what the entire stadium thinks all at once?

Secondly, while repeating a false narrative does not make it true, orchestrated repetition does things to the heart and mind. “Povtoreniye - mat’ ucheniya” (repetition is the mother of learning) says the Russian proverb.

The media establishment is condescending because its members know full well that they are your teachers, and you are their naïve pupils. The only deficit most of the media is concerned about is your attention deficit.

If you don’t remember the substance (or lack thereof) that they give you, they will be certain you remember the feelings they give you, and thus they emphasize whatever translates their biases into your actions.

Bitter or sweet nothings are doled out to the point of overlooking the obvious.

When you hear or see these emotional catchwords in the media, don’t be afraid to second-guess the usual narrative and venture into the Socratic Method. You might be surprised at how much the fourth estate of government has influenced you.

“Out of touch,” “Aloof,” “Likability,” “Likability problem”

Earlier this year I wrote about the irrelevance of presidential candidates’ relatability to the general American populace. In a presidential election, U.S. citizens are not electing a pageant queen or even a national representative. They are hiring a chief executive to run the second branch of their federal government for the next four years. 

Inigo Montoya meets the media…

Regardless, what does it mean to be “likable”? Do you genuinely like Barack Obama, or do you like him because the media often says he is likable?

Do you genuinely dislike Mitt Romney, or do you dislike him because the media often says that he isn’t likable? What’s not to like about a man who donated his entire inheritance to a university, gave away his Olympic presidency salary, took no salary as governor, and anonymously gave milk to a veterans’ hospital for two years?

Such a candidate is certainly no more out of touch or aloof than the current occupant of the White House who possesses an obscure, exotic background and has earned millions off of memoirs. 

A “likability problem” is a meaningless invention of taste that is the least of America’s problems.

“Gaffe,” “Misstep”

The same goes for the definition of “gaffe” these days. Columnist David Wong of (warning: foul language) aptly writes that when the media is all a-buzz about a presumed gaffe, you’re in for “completely information-free news events, and they absolutely dominate political news coverage and analysis. It’s like asking your doctor if the X-rays show a tumor, and all he’ll talk about is how stupid the radiologist’s haircut looks.”

“Gaffe” is so overused that it practically refers to anything a person says with which the media disagrees.

“The Rich,” “The 1%,” “Tax-Breaks-For-The-Wealthy,” “Fair Share”

Oh, those evil, filthy rich. Do you know what the “1%” actually is? It’s the segment of the population that pays 40% of the nation’s federal income taxes and much more, while nearly half of the country pays no federal income tax at all.

Is that fair?

Truth be told, we could tax the top 1% by 100% and that still wouldn’t be enough to cover our national deficit (let alone the national debt). It would put a lot more people out of work too.

The  wealthiest 10% of the population in the United States pay a greater share of federal taxes than the wealthy in other countries.

Remember, many of those who earn more than $250,000 a year are actually the small business owners next door - “ordinary people” - not celebrities. 

Love them or hate them at any level, we owe the rich (a.k.a. job creators) at least a little respect. When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America, he observed how most of the rich had once been poor themselves, and the poorer citizens looked at the wealthy enthusiastically as successful models of what they themselves could become. Class warfare is not a natural aspect of the American tradition.

The media, however (some members of which are, ironically, rich themselves), plays on envy and oblivion by treating wealth as if it is one of the few sins fashionable to condemn in the 21st century Western world and therefore the root of our economic and social troubles - unless it happens to be redistributed.

“Women’s health,” “Reproductive health,” “Choice,” “Women’s rights”

Perhaps the most insulting catchwords are those that diminish the female electorate to reproductive organs addicted to contraception.

Let’s be realistic. No presidential administration is going to take away birth control or women’s suffrage. American women are among the safest and most liberated in the world. 

Yet over and over and over again the media whines that opposing so much as the federal funding of birth control or abortion is an extremist plot to murder women. Some how sex-selective abortion targeting unborn women (which even India and China have had to enact bans against) and the negligence of Planned Parenthood resulting in maternal death are not nearly as alarming issues.

Jacqueline Harvey, Ph.D., explains that this “women’s health” agenda actually sets women’s health back by creating a hidden gender inequality in medicine, because it is easier to mask women’s symptoms with birth control than to discover a cure for their underlying health problems.

The inane feminist catchwords serve as false alarms to distract women voters from serious issues.

“Extreme,” “Extremist,” “Bigotry,” “Civility,” “Birther,” “Racist”

At the Values Voter Summit 2012 last weekend, comedian and Fox News Contributor Steven Crowder observed that in the vocabulary of the left, “civility equals ‘shut up’”. From the hypocritical media circus over “new tone” after the Tucson Massacre to the Obama administration and media’s gullibility in believing a cheesy video on YouTube was what incited a string of 9/11 11th anniversary attacks, misplaced outrage is coddled by today’s media establishment.

The academic establishment nurtures it too. Amy Lutz, who presides over the St. Louis University College Republicans, recently wrote about how SLU banned David Horowitz from campus years ago but is now hosting an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian conference (hello, Hamas). 

“Extreme” in the political context is simply supposed to refer to that which lies outside of the mainstream of political thought. However, the media does not dare apply this label to Obama, whose liberal ideology is indeed outside of the mainstream moderate/conservative majority of the American population. Thus, “extreme” and “extremist” are no longer descriptive terms.

Now, mass media accusations of bigotry and extremism are designed to make up your mind for you, warning you that something is so dangerous that you should dismiss it before looking into it any further. Meanwhile, they have developed an art of reading nonsense into just about anything.

During Romney’s GOP convention speech, he uttered these innocuous sentences: “Tonight, that American flag is still there on the Moon. And I don’t doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us. That unique blend of optimism, humility, and the utter confidence that, when the world needs someone to do that, you need an American.”

Afterward, the MSNBC panelists said with completely straight faces that Romney had deliberately implied that President Obama is not an American. This is not a product of normal journalistic thinking. This is not about informing the citizenry. This is about manipulating the citizenry for the supposed benefit of the collective.

It doesn’t end there, however. We now know that at least the Department of Justice has collaborated with some members of the media to attack other journalists.

The integrity of our free press is in question.


Amanda Read is a political columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. A professional writer and researcher, Amanda is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college student, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at


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Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. Trained as a historian, skilled as a writer, and aspiring to be a filmmaker, Amanda investigates the ideas behind contemporary culture and politics. A professional writer and researcher, she is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college graduate, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at

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