Title

Body of Lies

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Casey Motl

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin Brennan

Third Advisor

Dr. Deborah Root

Abstract

The idea that the government rarely tells the whole truth, and usually only communicates with the general public through propaganda, is not a new one. However, the idea that they now do so using specific terms that call into question the truthfulness of anything and everything is a more modem idea. "Framing" is one of the terms used to describe this new type of propaganda, and it is active in all aspects of communication, from the mainstream media to the White House, and everywhere in between. People use frames when they tell stories to each other, newspapers use frames when they decide what words to use as a headline, and governments use frames when they issue press releases and statements. This is not necessarily a bad thing when taken by itself, but in a culture of altered truth, is it even possible to find what really is happening, to know for sure what the "real truth" is?

While that question is not one that I can answer, I will try in the pages of this thesis to frame how this problem was created and what steps it took to go from obvious propaganda to more insidious, subconscious perspective-shifting. Two of the best illustrations for this are the White House and the mainstream media, as media frames are used by both entities to shape their meanings and in both cases the words chosen to craft the images and messages they send out cause the truth to be hidden in a sort of bodyguard of lies. This is most clearly seen in cases of war, when the lines between ethical and unethical are already blurred, which lead Sir Winston Churchill to remark once that "in wartime, truth is so precious she must always be attended to by a bodyguard of lies."

 
 

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