A couple days ago, Charles Manson, the leader of the “Manson Family” cult, died of natural causes in prison. While scrolling through the news on my phone, I came across a Fox News article “Once-reputable Newsweek compares President Trump to Charles Manson.” On a side tangent: I’ve subscribed to this source in an attempt to go against my confirmation bias, but I fear that it’s just making it worse because every time I read a Fox News article, I cringe and/or sigh. Anyway, I clicked on Brian Flood’s article because I wanted to see how Newsweek compared Trump to Manson, why this suddenly makes the new source untrustworthy, and just how badly Flood was going to condemn the author of the original source (“How Murderer Charles Manson Used Language To Gain Followers”), Melissa Matthews.
Flood claims that “Newsweek continues to embarrass the legacy of the once-reputable publication with anti-Trump hit pieces on a regular basis;” Is this why Newsweek is no longer reputable? Because they’re a politically left-leaning news source? Flood is clearly upset that “[t]he left-leaning publication literally compared a convicted mass murderer and cult leader to the President of the United States. Former President of the American Psychoanalytic Association Mark Smaller told Newsweek that part of Manson’s power lay in the type of language he used.” Flood quoted Smaller as saying “A charismatic leader knows how to speak to people in a way that will emotionally engage those people.” While comparing Trump to Manson is a dig at Trump, it seems blatantly obvious that any “charismatic leader” (even though I’m hard-pressed to say that Trump is charismatic, he is in a leadership position) would “[know] how to speak to people in a way that … emotionally [engages] … people.” This does not seem like a stretch at all. In this capacity, Smaller could have related Manson to Gandhi or Trump to the Dahli Lama, even though neither of those comparisons seems like a great idea, it is possible with those standards of “charisma.” Smaller then said that “we can look at the current position to see how language is used to form a bond with followers.”
Flood then attempts to give his article validity by quoting Dan Gainor, vice president of the Media Research Center: a center that documents “liberal media bias.” Gainor dubbed the piece “clickbait” and said that Newsweek “stopped being a legitimate news organization years ago.” In addition, Dan Gainor also claims that “[i]t’s almost predictable that same idiot online will write an outlandish story connecting Trump to the villain du jour, all designed to generate web traffic and ad dollars.” It’s ironic that Matthews’s article is ostracized for generating “web traffic” because it’s “outlandish” when Flood’s article generates that much more web traffic to Matthews’s article. Regardless of anyone’s political affiliation or personal feelings towards a writer, it is abhorrent to call a writer “some idiot online.”
When I went to go find out exactly how Melissa Matthews, author of the Newsweek, related Trump to Manson, the article had been changed because it “did not meet Newsweek’s editorial standards and [had] been revised accordingly.” So I have no knowledge just how bad the original article, but I do know that Mark Smaller’s claims do not appear to be outrageous or accusatory.
Significant (!) Biases
Both Brian Flood and Melissa Matthews had blatant biases that impacted what they wrote and why and how they presented the topic. I believe that each of their respective biases is significant because it (likely) impacts who their audience and whether or not their audience will agree with them. Their biases make sense to write right- and left-leaning articles for Fox News and Newsweek respectively, but it just furthers their biases. It’s also important to look at Dan Gainor’s biases because while it would appear that the Media Research Center would be non-partisan, the center only documents “liberal media bias.” It’s also painfully obvious just how much disdain Flood has for Matthews because he writes “Newsweek reporter Melissa Matthews … has recently written such other gems as “Why more orgasms can relieve sinus pressure,” and “Is PMS real or a myth?”
Sound (?) Conclusions
The only sound conclusion that I’ve found is not from the author of the attacking article, but rather a reader from Matthews’s article who stated, “Wow, both Manson and Trump used language to gain followers? Next, you’re going to tell me that they both drank water to quench thirst. You’ve cracked the case Newsweek. Now every leader will be using language to gain follows.” Perhaps I am assuming that this is a sound conclusion simply because I agree with it and because it mimics my comment that “[t]his does not seem like a stretch at all. In this capacity, Smaller could have related Manson to Gandhi or Trump to the Dahli Lama.”
Political (!) Implications
The political implications of both of these articles are ridiculous because one is a left-wing article attacking the right and the other is a right-wing article attacking a left-wing article. This constant back and forth of parties belittling each other further divides political parties.
*I converted a YouTube video of Donald Trump and Charles Manson into a GIF, but WordPress won’t let you post any kind of video without paying for it, so here’s the link in case you want to watch it.