Wednesday, January 03, 2018

“Semantic infiltration” of right-wing propaganda via euphemisms to characterize regressive public policies in the mainstream mass media:

From Michael Hiltzik’s column, “A New Year's pledge: Don’t let politicians and pundits say Social Security and Medicare ‘reforms’ when they mean ‘cuts,’” in the Los Angeles Times (January 2, 2018):
“Just after Christmas, for example, Politico achieved a multi-fecta in an article about disagreements between House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over Medicaid and Medicare. Reading from the top down, the article referred to ‘overhauling’ the programs, to ‘reform,’ ‘welfare and entitlement changes’ and ‘policy modifications.’ These are Republican terms for benefit cuts. There’s no excuse for journalists repeating them without defining them. But one has to drill pretty deeply into the Politico piece to find the first mention of benefit ‘cuts’ (to paragraph 12, actually). Other weasel words often found creeping into what purport to be objective reports about social programs are ‘reshape,’ ‘revamp,’ ‘modernize’ and especially ‘fix.’ As we’ve observed in the past, Republican plans for Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps and other such programs are ‘fixes’ in the same sense that one ‘fixes’ a cat or the Mafia ‘fixes’ an informer.
I’ve mentioned (in another context) the warning delivered in a 1965 speech by the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) about what he called ‘semantic infiltration’ in policy debates: ‘If the other fellow can get you to use his words, he wins.’”
The rest of the article is here.


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