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None Dare Call it Torture
Transcript of None Dare Call it Torture
Indexing and the Limits of Press Independence in the Abu Ghraib Scandal
Bennett's "Indexing Hypothesis"
Media watch dogs turned guard dogs
Cascading activation and event driven indexing
Top Down Ladder and counter frames
Why do you think "abuse" has been viewed less extreme than the "torture frame"?
How prevalent do you think cascading activation of news is in the media today?
What other political scandal stories have lacked strong counter frames?
Scandal in 2004
Mistreatment and Abuse
Public Opinion Formation
Matt Fricks and Emily Dion
Models of News Events and Framing
Applying the Models to Abu Ghraib
Event Driven Model: Photographic and documentary Evidence
Cascading Activation: Administration of framing in a favorable light
Torture Policy Frame vs Bush Administration Frame
Why the Frame Matters
Empirical Question: To what extent and under what circumstances did news organizations highlight the torture frame versus the isolate abuse frame?
Entman's useful standard of "counter framing"
July 2004 survey by the Program on International Policy on attitudes
Four Most prevalent labels: mistreatment, scandal, abuse, and torture
The Washington Post: 242 news articles, and 52 masthead editorials, columns, and op-ed pieces
CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes II
Assessed findings against a national newspaper sample
Findings Part 1
3% of Stories (Washington Post) originally used" torture" as the primary frame
81% of stories (Washington Post) originnaly used "abuse" as the primary frame
17% of editorials used "torture"as the primary frame
61% of editorials used "abuse" as the primary frame
2 of 242 articles (roughly .008%) offered "torture" as a strong clue for audiences
Findings Part 2
"Abuse" was more favored than "torture" by Washington Post
"Torture" was considered "weak frame" until additional details were revealed
"Torture" appeared as 1st or 2nd frame in 54% of stories in first 2 weeks after story broke
Sample consisted of 895 articles from 4/1/2004-1/18/2005
Only 9 items used the term "torture" alone
Reemergence of "torture" during investigation reports
"Torture" reentered news during Gonzales confirmation hearings
Cascading activation pertains to hierarchical relay of information
What This Means
"Torture" frame had a harsher connotation
Abuse was clear from evidence and required further analysis for "torture"
During controversial events relating to Abu Ghraib, "torture" resurfaced
Evidence of mistreatment became framed as regrettable abuse
Political power is the ultimate source of rise/fall of event-driven frames
Framing of events at Abu Ghraib reflected predictable pattern of indexing
None Dare Call it Torture:
W. Lance Bennett, Regina G. Lawrence, & Steven Livingston