Boykoff (2007) asserts that the media is a powerful institution that wields enormous influence on the public. It is this influence on the public that dictates opinions and decisions. For example, the evening news on crime reports drive some to believe that crime is on the rise while statistics paint a different picture. The denial of entrance to George Galloway in Canada on the grounds of national security threat serves as a perfect opportunity to point out how media frames, of this anti-war activist, by using techniques such as, de-contextualization, marginalization, denigration, deprecation, can alter citizens’ support that is often needed to challenge the status quo. The media reports and editorials herein when put under the microscope one might argue that their intentions is in fact to present Mr. Galloway as insane and egocentric who craves for fame. Furthermore, by attacking Mr. Galloway personality these reports seek to divert real issue of the human, social and economic costs of wars and potential sympathizer of such cause.
When the news got out that Mr. Galloway was denied entry to Canada, news media unsurprisingly seized the opportunity to provide their side of the story. Clark (2012) equated Mr. Galloway situation to that of the Anti-Muslim preacher Terry Jones that his presence will luckily incite violence. Clearly, comparing Mr. Galloway to Terry Jones, whose ideas of burning the Koran cost people’s lives; Clark is opting to violence framing to drive away sympathizers of Mr. Galloway. Also, Clark’s goal is to the de-contextualize events by asserting that violence should be expected as a result of Galloway’s ideologies. Techniques such as violence frame, Boykoff (2007) would argue, serve to suppress dissent.
Denigration seems to be also another preferred techniques of media framing. Consider the title “Let foreign Weirdos talk” by Selley (2012) who goes even further to belittle Mr. Galloway who opposed Canada’s decision to deny him entrance because “weirdos” shouldn’t be taken seriously. Furthermore, Selley’s attempt to deprecate Mr. Galloway intends to undermine his anti-war activism and to portray those who attend his events as weirdos as well. Sam (2009) also prefers denigration as a technique of media framing by portraying Mr. Galloway as an egocentric who craves for fame to advance his cause. Sam (2009) argues, for instance, that refusing entry to Mr. Galloway gives him more publicity, which in turn will attract more sympathizers to his cause. In other words, Sam is asserting that Mr. Galloway’s ideas lack substance and no normal person can buy them. Boykoff (2007) would surely argue that Selley and Sam’s intentions are to demonize and marginalizing for the sole purpose of suppressing dissent.
Demonization or freak frame can also be an important persuasive tool for journalists who intend to discredit activists. Consider a title by an anonymous in an editorial in Toronto Star “Is Galloway support a terrorist?” The use of the word “Terrorist” can easily resonate with a lot of people especially in the post 9/11 Era. The author refers to the accusation by most Galloway’s critique that he supports terrorists groups. Such technique of freak frame, argues Boykoff (2007), would serve to demonize activists by associating them with radical movements that espouse radical views for the sole purpose of preventing sympathizers to adhere to their cause.
Sharon (2009) too chooses freak frame by presenting Mr. Galloway as a terrorist sympathizer. In doing so she dismisses his anti-war views claiming that we have our own terrorists sympathizers to deal with home and no need to add another one (Sharon 2009). Sharon (2009) seems to prove Boykoff (2007) point when he asserts, “ aside from these forms of mass-media suppression, activists and social movements may also be denigrated, denounced, or dismissed in the mass media in other subtle ways, including underestimation, false balance, and disregard. This mode of suppression spans the gamut from misrepresentation to little or no representation”(p. 248).
To conclude, the “ mass media play an important role in the construction of social issue and problems” (Boykoff, 2009, p. 246). It is this social construction that dictates public decisions on whether to participate in social movements that intend to challenge the prevailing norms. With these framing practices, the mass media’s neutrality is questioned and leave many to see them as “forms of dissent suppression” (Boykoff, 2009, p. 246). In capitalist liberal societies, one realizes that the mass media play a fundamental role in maintaining the social capitalist order by containing through media framing those who seek to challenge it.
Anonymous. 2009. “Is Galloway supporter a terrorist?” Toronto Star. March 31. Retrieved December 09, 12 (http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/canadiannewsmajor/docview/439575758/13AF284849336C3A8C3/12?accountid=15182)
Boykoff, Jules. 2007. “Mass Media Deprecation.” Pp. 216-47 in Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States. Oakland: AK Press.
Boykoff, Jules. 2007. “Mass Media Underestimation, False Balance, and Disregard.” Pp. 248-60 in Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States. Oakland: AK Press.
Clark, Campbell. 2012. “Kenney seeks new power to bar undesirables from Canada.” The Globe and Mail. October 17. Retrieved December 09, 2012 (http://global.factiva.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/ha/default.aspx)
Sam, Kays. 2009. “Publicity helps Galloway.” Star-Phoenix. March 26. Retrieved December 09, 2012 (http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/canadiannewsmajor/docview/349087973/13AF284849336C3A8C3/8?accountid=15182)
Selley, Chris. 2012. “Let foreign weirdos talk.” National Post. October 19. Retrieved December 09, 2012 (http://global.factiva.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/ha/default.aspx)
Sharon, Maclise. 2009. “Galloway is free to speak, just don’t let him do it here.” Edmonton Journal. April 3. Retrieved December 10, 2012 (http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/canadiannewsmajor/docview/250513538/fulltext/13AF284849336C3A8C3/14?accountid=15182)