How The Mainstream Media Can Manipulate Viewers Using Only Chyrons

Donald Trump's Twitter timeline is seen on a smartphone against a backdrop with the CNN TV channel logo, in Ankara, Turkey on December 9, 2018.
Ali Balkci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave a speech on the Senate floor during which he stated that President Trump was not only well within his rights to take legal action pertaining to the election, but that Republicans were not going to be lectured on the idea of concession.

“Let’s not have any lectures, no lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election,” McConnell stated. “And who insinuated that this one would be illegitimate, too, if they lost again. Only if they lost. So, let’s have no lectures on this subject from that contingent.”

During McConnell’s speech, I was at the gym, watching both CNN and Fox News. I often compare and contrast the coverage of the two networks as I run on the treadmill because the TV screens are on display right next to each other in a long row of screens.

It’s easy to spot bias when watching CNN or Fox News. These networks are, after all, targeted to certain audiences. CNN is friendly to the Left, while Fox News — though not broadly fond of President Trump — is generally friendly to the Republican Party.

One can see bias when Don Lemon chokes up over Joe Biden’s media-declared victory. One can also see bias in Chris Cuomo’s coverage of his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of New York.

Fox News, too, has biases.

Something that’s worth being aware of — and is much more subtle than choking up when your favored candidate is declared the winner or laughing with your brother as elderly residents of the state that he governs die in droves due to his incompetence — are the chyrons.

A chyron, for the uninitiated, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a caption superimposed over usually the lower part of a video image.” Basically, when a story is being spoken about by anchors or pundits, the text at the bottom of the screen that summarizes the topic of discussion is known as the chyron.

As Sen. McConnell spoke on Monday, the chyron on Fox News’ screen read: “Sen. McConnell: President Trump is within his rights to look into irregularities.”

The chyron on CNN’s screen read: “McConnell: Trump ‘within his rights’ to wage legal fight.”

CNN and Fox News.

Screenshots via CNN and Fox News

At first glance, one may not notice any substantive difference between the two — but there’s a stark contrast on display. Fox News, which is favorable to Republicans, places an official title before McConnell’s name (Sen), and it uses relatively neutral language, specifically, words that summarized the senator’s remarks pertaining to Trump’s ongoing and impending legal challenges.

CNN did not insert a title before Sen. McConnell’s name, and they placed quotation marks around a portion of the language used (“within his rights”). Quotation marks, when used in this way, can serve to isolate what an individual is saying in order to make it appear as though it is separate or divergent from an otherwise established consensus.

Moreover, and perhaps most egregious, CNN used the phrase “wage legal fight.” The word “wage” is, for many, associated with warfare, and war is universally viewed on a gut level as negative and destructive. The word “fight” is, of course, often viewed negatively as well.

Viewers of CNN may not have any idea that they are being subtly manipulated by the simple words used to describe what’s happening on the screen — but they are. It’s a layman’s psyop, “aimed at influencing” someone’s “state of mind,” per Merriam-Webster’s definition of the term. And the influence being exerted is in support of a narrative that the legacy press continues to craft in the days following the election, which is this: Joe Biden won, anyone who challenges that idea is outside the mainstream consensus, and those with questions need to shut up and get in line.

This may appear insignificant, but in aggregate, these layman’s psyops all contribute to a larger structure. A chyron may be the cement holding a single brick in place, but with it, the structure — the narrative — is just that much stronger.

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The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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