The manipulation done by Conrad Brean and Stanley Motss was an extreme scenario of how the media can shape our views and make us believe things that aren’t even true. They used the power of the media to create a fake war and distract Americans from the president’s sex scandal. None of them seemed to be bothered by the enormous lie they had formed. They saw it is the only way to do their job and help the president get re-elected. There wasn’t much concern about the ethical issues among the main characters, so could this be something that’s acceptable for people of power to do with the media?
What made the fake war seem so real was the manipulators’ ability to create actual events for people to see. Seeing footage from a war was not uncommon at the time. People who saw it just assumed it was real because it was on a news channel. Similarly, we saw an example of this in class when CNN televised a fake newscast of Carl Rochelle from the First Gulf War. Today we can tell that it’s fake, but back then, people may not have known about media manipulation or didn’t think that someone would actually do it. The movie’s manipulation was worse because that war didn’t even exist.
Brean and Motss were both manipulating the media for their own reasons. They believed that they had a job to do. Brean always treated the situation as if it was a task he needed to complete. He was hired by the White House to distract the American public, so that is what he set out to do, no question asked. Motss joined the team because he wanted to show what he could do as a producer. He set out to prove that he could make the war with Albania seem so real on camera that people would actually believe it. He also wanted some overdue credit for his work since he had never won any awards for his past movies.
While they had their own reasons that they thought were justified, what Brean and Motss did was wrong. The SPJ Code of Ethics states that journalists should “never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.” Every piece of evidence of the “war” in Albania was done in a studio or faked. While they weren’t journalists themselves, they were controlling what was given to the media and distributed across the country while knowing that they were lying. Not only were they disobeying the rules of journalism, but they were also doing so to help keep a man in office that had a sex scandal. They infringed on the people’s ability to see who their president was and distracted them from what he had done.
Brean and Motss should never have manipulated the media to get the president re-elected. It didn’t allow the people to make in an informed decision on who they wanted running their country and lied to them completely, which is the opposite of the media’s real purpose. A story like this shows how deceiving the media can really be and instills a lack of trust among the population. It’s hard for people to tell what’s real anymore when the media that they rely on for news is being used to manipulate them into believing what a higher power wants them to. How can people 100 percent trust the media anymore, especially around election time?
Wag the Dog