Dominic Hosack Aaron Wynne Protests in Wisconsin: Public Discourse and News Outlets In the news over the

past two months, one of the most covered topics on both sides of the political news spectrum has been the Wisconsin protests to the Budget Repair Bill passed by legislators regarding union status in Wisconsin. The bill will eliminate the collective bargaining to government workers and dispel unions in Wisconsin. The issue of eliminating collective bargaining is a major topic in Wisconsin because it has drawn potential employees to the state for years due to the large number of benefits government employees within the union receive. The bill, passed by new Republican Gov. Scott Walker, will cut spending by a projected 3.6 billion dollars and avoid mass layoffs by cutting some of the healthcare, pension and insurance benefits that are entitled to all workers under the current union stature. However, the point of this paper is not to present the facts about the bill and its ramifications in Wisconsin; the goal here is to decipher how different news outlets, in particular MSNBC, CNN and FOX News are reporting on the protests and the different rhetoric each outlet is using. These three outlets are the primary cable news sources in America. Each of them has their own spin that they place on the news. By studying what these three sources have to say about the discourse, we hope to learn that each side is really against the other side, rather than trying to inform and help the American public. We should find out, in the end of the paper, how public discourse is affected and utilized by the new sources to achieve an agenda. The easiest way to understand how volatile the discourse surrounding the protests in Wisconsin, is to look at who is creating the discourse. In the second half of this paper, exploration of Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow, two newscasters of differing political persuasion will be examined. Each side tells a different story and focuses on different aspects of the protests.

Studying the discourse that surrounds these issues will provide us with a clearer understanding of how public discourse works within this nation. The news outlets provide the discourse for the majority of the nation through the internet and television. Because so much of the time and energy of discourse happens on television and it is broadcast across the whole nation, this provides a wide spectrum from which to analyze the discourse around the bill and protests. We will gain an understanding of how each side thinks and the news networks use their champions to highlight what they want us to hear. Because of the way that each side brings the facts and truths to the American public, we will be able to see how volatile the rhetoric surrounding the bill and protests in Wisconsin are. News outlets such as MSNBC have been labeled as a more leftist, democratic organization and it reflects in much of the discourse they convey regarding the issue. On the website, an article titled ³Thousands protest the Anti-Union bill´ shows a variety of rhetorical examples. The first thing to examine is the keyword ³anti-union´ in the title. Obviously, MSNBC is trying to incite some sort of emotion from its readers, by calling the bill ³anti-union´. Any reader who is for unions and collective bargaining rights for workers will be predisposed to resenting the bill by just reading the title of MSNBC¶s article. Another major component of the article is the use of anecdotes from real life union workers who will be affected. They interview a few of the protesters, possibly the most vehement, to get quotes of desperation. Again this rhetorical tactic incites sympathy in the reader, thus swaying public opinion. Furthermore, in the obviously anti-republican tone of the article, MSNBC includes a paragraph saying ³Senate Republicans met in secret to discuss the bill.´ This sentence is the clearest usage of rhetoric to sway the opinion of the reader. MSNBC deliberately uses the word ³secret´ to elicit both skepticism and disgust in the reader because it begs the question, why would any legislation be withheld from the public if its aim is to aid the economic troubles of the state? Overall, MSNBC repeatedly uses emotional appeals throughout their discourse to sway opinions.

On the opposite hand, and political spectrum, FOX news seems to center its discourse on economic issues of the state of Wisconsin under the current collective bargaining. They seem to center much of their argument on the logos of the bill. In particular, FOX news reports on how the bill will ³create jobs´ and ³alleviate financial strains on Wisconsin tax payers´. Unlike the MSNBC reports, FOX News does not seem to focus much on what protesters are saying but on the amount of opposition Democratic legislators were showing and in particular how much money was spent on the campaign of Attorney Gen. JoAnne Kloppenburg, estimated 3.58 million dollars, to be elected to public office in order to strike down the bill. Another interesting report spoke about the 17 protesters arrested, something MSNBC entirely failed to mention, for disorderly conduct. This article seemed to portray the protestors as fanatics instead of concerned citizens. Lastly, in another article, FOX News stressed that legislation will revise some things to the bill, but did not specify anywhere in the article what would be specifically edited, and also stated at the end that the ³fundamental principles of the bill would stay intact.´ The discourse from FOX News is arguably less antagonistic in regards to the legislation and more critical on the economic climate of Wisconsin and the protestor¶s methods. CNN, attempts to be bi-partisan in their reporting of the Wisconsin protests. The reporting refrains from using any loaded or emotional words and instead focused on the facts. They give exact numbers of protesters that converged on the legislator¶s office and mentioned the protestors who were arrested. However, CNN used anecdotes from legislators saying that the protests, though loud, were orderly and within legal limits. By presenting both sides of the spectrum, CNN attempts to present a more fair and balanced discourse on the subject. They avoid using overly emotional appeals to sway opinion to the democratic view or the republic view. When looking at how MSNBC, FOX, and CNN provided written discourse, much of the coverage has also been used through video. In exploring the different news anchors, such as Maddow and Olbermann or Beck and Hannity, the discourse takes a political charge that incites

anger, fear, skepticism, and sympathy. Each news outlet has a certain demographic that they are trying to reach and sway to their views. The challenge lies in the finding the truth and the only way to discern the truth is to separate it from the respective news agencies that report the stories as truth. Rhetorically, the truth lies in the message, but it is hidden behind the agenda that each side is trying to promote. Rachel Maddow is one of MSNBC's most vocal newscasters and she is unapologetic in her views. In order to understand the truth in the message that she broadcasts, one has to look at her politics. The rhetoric of her site, both aural and visual, is needed to explore to understand how her discourse works for the American public. Maddow's site loads a landscape with a sky of red, white, and blue coming from a central axis in the middle of the site. This clearly speaks to the American visual rhetoric assigned with red, white, and blue. In the center of her site is a video player, and aside from that, her site is minimalistic, but the content is anything but minimalistic. Looking at one video in particular, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-bZk_Gc7pA, Maddow begins her broadcast by asking the viewer to watch a video of a politician being tackled as he tried to enter the building. She used deliberate words to incite anger and disgust at the way that this was handled. She continues to attack the officer and not the issue itself. She even mentions that it is a small part of the story, but the viewer is being distracted by the video that she is playing over her audio. As she moves past that video, obviously designed to charge the viewer, to talking about how Walker is prepping to layoff many different state workers. The title in the background of the video is ³push comes to SHOVE´ with 'shove' in blocked, red lettering. The words that she uses are designed to get the viewers attention and draw them in against the Republican Party. She uses truth and audience as her primary rhetorical tools to connect with her audience. She uses

buzzwords such as ³blowing up; union busting; privatizing; foreign, private company; fiscal emergency´. Next she attacks the people that Walker hired, and shows pictures of their lewd acts. She apologizes to her mom, in a way of saying that this is unacceptable and instantly vilifies this corporation. She tells the viewers that they should cover the eyes of any ³little ones´ in the room. This implies that she believes that her viewers watch her show with their children. The discourse that she uses is rather unobtrusive and she plays on the familial setting that is held in such high regard in America. The truth that Maddow shows is how people were fired from their jobs and how this budget crisis is affecting the state negatively. She has not one positive aspect to her discourse and her discourse was designed deliberately for anger and sympathy for her views. Granted, the viewers that watch her show know where she stands and her discourse on topics. Glenn Beck also has a website and the visual rhetoric on this site is atrocious. The first thing that I noticed was the advertisements. These loaded first and instantly portray a for-profit style of visual discourse. On the side bar of the site, there is a striding Beck. Continuing through the front page, Beck has even more advertisements. Based on what I have seen of his show, advertising is a huge business for him and that is where he makes majority of his money. That was a difference between Beck and Maddow that stood out to me. Beck's site has numerous payadvertisements, while Maddow's is sponsored by MSNBC. When watching how Beck uses discourse to his advantage, one has to look at how his stage is set up. The back lighting for the stage is dark, while there seems to be a spotlight on Beck. He walks around the stage and has chalkboards with his talking points drew up on them. This might be used rhetorically to make him a teacher, an informer, of the public.

Beck begins to deliberately attack the protestors and not the issue itself. He starts by saying that the protestors chanted ³Kill the bill´ and this was an example of violent rhetoric. In doing so, he separates himself from the protestors. He next pulls up a sign that stated ³From Cairo to Madison, workers unite.´ Much of his discourse is about the protestors themselves and not what they were protesting. He continues to state that this was something that he warned about and it¶s a revolution. He shifts his focus, in a later video, to attack students. His discourse is subtly violent, but he doesn't attack Walker or any republicans. Beck knows his audience. His audience is one that appreciates what Beck says. Granted, like any newscaster, there are people that watch him for entertainment. His discourse is apocalyptic. He stays away from truth and tries to use power to sway his audience. He derives his power from his audience, and it feels like they feed off of each other. The way that he uses his discourse also encourages the viewer to feel sympathy for him. Beck uses the way that his audience connects to him to his advantage. Maddow and Beck are two examples that are on opposite ends of the political newscaster's spectrum. Each knows their own strength and weaknesses. When looking at the discourse around each side of this event, it is easy to see how the two sides will not agree with anything. Maddow sides with the protestors and shows how the protestors are perceived as correct, while Beck sits on the other side and attacks the protesters. Each side uses attacks on the other side to garner support for their respective side. Trying to remain neutral, CNN and Wolf Blitzer portray an unbiased approach to the protests. They talk to both sides and state that both sides would not budge on this issue. His approach was to get the facts that Fox and MSNBC would not share. This seemed to allow Blitzer to seem neutral. In fact, I could detect nothing that would indicate that he was biased in the transcript of the broadcast that I read. Seeing that Blitzer was the only major news castor that remained neutral, it was hard to find an agenda that Blitzer was pushing.

The news outlets have an agenda and the discourse surrounding the protests in Wisconsin exemplifies this. The most challenging part of this discourse lies in finding the truth. Neither Beck nor Maddow expose much of the truth and instead focus on attacking the other side. Blitzer was the only one that actually reported the events and why each side was protesting. Because of this, the truth is harder to find and the discourse becomes more violent and designed to incite anger. Anger was the emotion that both anchors used to reach their viewers. Looking at one news source for the truth can and is troubling because it is challenging to fact check. Each side of the discourse has specific strategies and ideas that they use to try to spread the news that they want. The left focuses on the humanitarian aspect of it. They are using pathos to capitalize on the audience. They also use a fair amount of logos to try to garner the upper hand and point out how the people against the protestors are undesirable people. Ethos plays an important role when Maddow on MSNBC would report on Gov. Walker. She questioned the ethics as to what he was doing and if it was right or wrong. She, and by association, MSNBC, are clearly against the right and use equally antagonistic rhetoric. They attack the right and the viewers of the right, using planned rhetoric and speech to get their views across. The same is found on the opposite side. The right also utilized ethos, logos, and pathos to demonize and attack the left. These attacks were more towards the protestors and their supporters than what they were protesting. They used logos as their argument about teachers¶ salaries being too high. They used pathos in the same argument to try to connect with their viewers. Ethos did not have much regard in what we saw that Fox News used. When both sides are using rhetoric and discourse that is loaded and designed with antagonistic principles in mind, it is hard to find the real truth in the matter. This discourse seems to be the type of discourse that sophists would excel at them. Both sides are arguing for what they believe is the correct side and believe that they are showing the truth in the issue. In reality

the truth of this issue is somewhere between each of the sides, but it will not be exactly what CNN is telling. Both sides used this bill and the protests as a way to attack the other side, CNN tried to remain the most neutral and shied away from using loaded words and questions. CNN reported the facts as best as they could. In the articles that we reviewed, this was not looked at as a side versus side argument, but a protest over the budget bill. Because CNN did not attack either side, they were able to present more facts. There was no apparent slant to any of the articles (we did not review blogs) and the discourse seemed focused on the issues of the protests and why they were protesting the bill, not the protestors, nor the force used to quell the protestors. The truth is what is at the heart of the discourse surrounding the protests in Wisconsin. By examining the discourse around the issue and the rhetorical strategies that were used, the truth comes out in examining all sides and finding the similarities that exist. Once those are found, the truth in the discourse comes out. We cannot discredit what Maddow or Beck said, as each was partially right in what they were saying, but due to their roles as voices, one has to look beyond what they are saying for the whole truth. All of the sources that we looked at focused on some aspect of the issue. Public discourse of American politics will provide all the views to have a say, but what exactly each says is different. Fox and MSNBC will be against each other and utilize antagonistic rhetoric to attack each respective side. CNN tries to stay in the middle and does a decent job at doing so. The issue that they run into is what allows the other networks greater success: sensationalism. Both Fox News and MSNBC had sensational stories to go with their views to play on the pathos and logos of their viewers. Ethos does not have much of a role in the news, other than giving the stories a semblance of truth. All of the outlets use planned rhetoric to inform and persuade the public. Fox plays on fear. This is especially true of Glenn Beck. In analyzing what he says, we found that he uses specific words, such as revolution, in a bad way. He plays on the fears of his

audience and they believe what he says. It also goes beyond the audible rhetoric, but even moves into visual rhetoric. With such brash and obtuse images, Fox and Beck play on the pathos of their audience to push their agenda. The public discourse from them is focused on fear and what America will become in the future should these events continue. This is true for more than just the bill and protests in Wisconsin. Maddow and MSNBC also use pathos, but they focus on anger, not fear. They talk of the atrocities that the right perpetrates and vehemently cry out for sympathy. They will use stories of individuals who have had a rough go of things to connect with their audience. Finally, they use logos and point out how they feel what the other side is doing is wrong. Public discourse on this issue is tricky. Each side is lobbying to get position on the other and paint the other side as the enemy. Neither side is focused on the fact that all the involved parties are Americans and all want the best for this nation. Only CNN focused on the aspects of the bill and what the protestors were protesting. Everything about the discourse was antagonistic and seemed to be more ³against the other side, rather than the issue.´ Public discourse is used by the news outlets to achieve a part of their agenda. Each side uses the discourse around events to sway viewers to their views through logos, pathos, and ethos.

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