Sunday, June 21, 2020

Deborah Lipstadt, 1993

The press may not determine what the public thinks, but it does influence what it thinks about.

If the media pay particular attention to an issue, its importance is enhanced in the public’s eyes, and if the media ignore something, public reaction will be nil, for as Gay Talese has observed, news unreported has no impact.

The way the press told the story of Nazi antisemitism—the space allocated, the location of the news in the paper, and the editorial opinions—shaped the American reaction.

My analysis of the press is an attempt to shed light on that reaction. The press was not a neutral or passive observer—it almost never is. When we study the press, it may appear that we are studying the narrator, but we are really studying an actor. The press became part of the historical process by virtue of the role it played as conduit of information. Just by fulfilling its task, it became a catalyst.

--Deborah Lipstadt, Beyond Belief, 1993

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