Sunday, 15 January 2012

Gayness as a disability, newsreaders as ideological mouthpieces

I love this one because it shows how newsreaders are so often on auto-pilot, detectable from that special 'newsreader' tone of voice which appears to encode ideology through interpellation. The slip is made by the anchor on the left of your screen:

What is happening here is that a story about a blind man climbing a mountain is misreported as a gay man climbing a mountain. Its as if the newsreader drops in something from the stock mainstream categories of 'unusual' or 'disabled'. So, in this case, the auto-pilot slip allows us to speculate on how this mainstream media might regard homosexual love as an impairment, or at least as a category not normally associated with 'normal' enterprises like mountain climbing.

I think the key lesson here reminds us the media considers newsworthy abnormalities, even when they get it 'right', as part of a stock list, a social construction of conciousness. For once, the existence of ideology encoded in standard news speak is revealed by this slip, since both 'gay' and 'blind' appear to be on this list.

Friday, 6 January 2012

More twitter ye not - the #blackbusters affair

Well, twitter has exploded today thanks to Labour leader Ed Milliband's extraordinary slip up. It began when Diane Abbot, Labour MP, was having a Twitter conversation in which she tweeted, amongst other things:
White people love playing 'divide & rule' We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism
Predictably, her words were used against her but, as 33Revolutions blogs, accusing her of racism for them doesn't convince in our Universe. The Labour leadership however was keen to get her to apologise; here's Diane in mid-interview about the tweet, taking (so it is said) the phone call from her leader:

So far, so boring. Then Bob Holness, a broadcaster well known in the UK for hosting 80's game show Blockbusters, died, and Milliband tweets:
Sad to hear that Bob Holness has died. A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters
Oh dear. Some feel this may have been a deliberate ploy to take the heat off Abbot. Most people view it as a typo, probably by someone who tweets (or used to) on Milliband's behalf. But coming as it does after the Abbot incident, it's a fascinating slip. The Telegraph argues "the slip-up suggests yesterday's 'race row', in which Miliband was compelled to rebuke Diane Abbott, is still weighing on the Labour leader's mind" - or the mind of his tweet-monkey. A reasonable argument given how difficult it is to mistake a for o on the keyboard, even on a phone. Let's try and unpick it a little more. It seems obvious to suggest a relationship with the Abbot controversy, and if that connection holds it does suggest unconscious racism on Milliband's part, having only 24 hours earlier himself 'busted' a well known 'black'. Another factor of interest is that Holness was a white South African, born there, raised in the UK, but returning there to begin his broadcasting career right at the beginning of the apartheid era. Did that obscure fact play into the slip too? #Blackbusters is now a trending topic on twitter, as well as people complaining of a storm in a tea cup. It will be interesting to see how much this damages Milliband in the long term, compared with say Gordon Brown's incident in which he was recorded describing a member of the public as a 'bigoted woman'. Will this embarrassment stick to Milliband, despite the voices of reason and calm? Can he live it down? An interesting test case for public slips.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Low-lights of Bachmann's Concession Speech

The video highlights choice slips from Michele Bachmann's speech earlier today. Apologies for the rough edit!

@2:20 She'll fight to keep her country 'se-cr- great - er- free'. Interesting one that - unsure whether to say 'safe' or 'great', she elides the words into 'secret'. She reverts to 'great', then to what she was apparently supposed to say - 'free, safe and sovereign'.

@2:27 Listing her pet hates, 'excessive government regulation' is mis-spoke as 'rec-ess-essive'. Recessive has a different meaning to excessive: 'tending to go, move, or slant back'.

White Wing Media

Rush Limbaugh, a well known talk radio host, made this slip early in 2011.
tl;dl: Commenting on an article in the NYT, Limbaugh says 'white right wing media' instead of 'right wing media'.

Limbaugh already correctly uttered the phrase 'right wing media' once, which could account for the sheer speed with which Limbaugh corrects himself - it's like the error and the correction merge into one word : 'whiteright'.

Blogging this, Jason Easly does assume the slip reveals something of Limbaugh's unconscious. There is a debate as to whether slips do reveal the unconscious, as psychoanalysis after Freud theorises, or whether, as some cognitive psychologists contend, they are simple processing errors. I am agnostic on this issue, and I'll be blogging about it. For now though, it doesn't really matter if you believe the theory or not - I certainly believe such slips open the space to tell our truths, the truths we know. Who cares if Rush Limbaugh has repressed awareness of white bias in right-wing media, and that awareness has found a way out, through parapraxis? We're not here to psychoanalyse Rush Limbaugh. We're here to see if his slip can inform us about what's hidden behind the veil he represents. Easly's response continues:

Rush Limbaugh’s slip of the tongue was actually the truth. People like him and Glenn Beck aren’t the right wing media. They are the white wing media. They are preaching to an overwhelmingly older, white audience. The white wing media serves as the information network for the angry vastly majority white faces who scream that they want their country back. Limbaugh appeals to this audience by using Obama’s skin color to delegitimize him often. Everything from his frequent references to the President as a man child to his featuring the song Barack The Magic Negro on his show is an attempt to divide by race.

The purpose of the white wing media is to divide. Republicans learned from the previous two decades that they can’t win or maintain power if the nation is united, so since the election of Obama they have worked day and night to once again fracture our nation 50/50. They view a return to the last two decades as politically beneficial, and if they have to divide the country along racial lines to achieve their goals, that is exactly what they will do.
Limbaugh preaches conservative versus liberal, but the subtext is also white versus black. That’s what the white wing media does. They help those white conservatives who can’t handle their loss of political power and standing in a society that is becoming more diverse, feel powerful again by attacking change, progress, and diversity.

Pundit slip: Ron Paul 'attacked'

This video, posted on and tweeted by CNN themselves, shows CNN's coverage of the Republican Iowa caucus, which by 1.30am was getting a bit loose as the newsreaders and pundits struggle with the new studio tech, and find themselves in one of those live TV moments of chaos.

But check out the parapraxis by pundit Ali Velshi at 2:54. Explaining why Ron Paul is the most popular candidate on Twitter, he says "we know he's been attacked - attracting a younger audience'. Mistaking similar sounding words is a common enough parapraxis - in this case he misses out the 'r', to make 'attacked' - yet perhaps this reflects an underlying sense of hostility towards Ron Paul, balancing the positive news of his popularity on the microblog? Anyway, news is Mitt Romney has won the caucus by eight votes. Ron Paul was third, according to the Guardian:
Romney and Santorum both ended the night on 24.5% of the vote, Paul 21.5%, Newt Gingrich 13%, Rick Perry 10%, Michelle Bachmann 5% and Jon Huntsman 1%.
Paul's campaign team claimed it was now down to a two-man race between himself and Romney because Santorum did not have the resources to mount campaigns in other states.
Paul's national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, said: "The Ron Paul campaign is celebrating a great victory tonight … This is now a two way race between establishment candidate Mitt Romney and the candidate for real change, Ron Paul."

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Twitter ye not.

Micro-blogging, through services like twitter and, has becme famous for slips, such as the public blogging of a message intended to be private. This appears to have happened today - @EinyShah, an 'advisor on young people' who works with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, tweeted this earlier: Interesting. According to @joshuwahwah, a Communications Officer working in Politics (Labour), Einy's tweet refers to the previous Mayor's #faredeal campaign.

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