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Semantic framing in the build-up to the Iraq War: Fox V. CNN and other U. S. broadcast news programs.

Abstract: The authors conduct an exhaustive analysis of broadcast news transcripts from the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks to the U.S. congressional authorization of force against Iraq. News organizations overall used framing words and phrases Words and Phrases®

A multivolume set of law books published by West Group containing thousands of judicial definitions of words and phrases, arranged alphabetically, from 1658 to the present.
 complementary to the Bush Administration push for war. Fox News, even more than CNN CNN
 or Cable News Network

Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world.
 in full American Broadcasting Co.

Major U.S. television network. It began when the expanding national radio network NBC split into the separate Red and Blue networks in 1928.
, CBS (Cell Broadcast Service) See cell broadcast. , NBC NBC
 in full National Broadcasting Co.

Major U.S. commercial broadcasting company. It was formed in 1926 by RCA Corp., General Electric Co. (GE), and Westinghouse and was the first U.S. company to operate a broadcast network.
, CNBC CNBC Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (artificial intelligence)
CNBC Consumer News and Business Channel
CNBC Congress of National Black Churches, Inc.
, and public broadcasting public broadcasting: see broadcasting. , emphasized pro-war framing terms. Fox News over a longer time frame also generally trailed CNN in stories covering the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction Weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Weapons of mass destruction can be high explosives or nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons, but exclude the means of transporting or  in Iraq, the lack of a pre-war link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, majority international public opinion about the war, and the number of American casualties.


The bestselling book Don't Think of an Elephant!, subtitled Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, detailed some of the word choices with which the George W. Bush Administration subtly shifted public debate. Inheritance or estate taxes were called death taxes. Tax cuts were called tax relief because relief has a very strong positive connotation. However, the most notable semantic framing happened regarding the War on Iraq, more often phrased by the administration as the War on Terror This article is about U.S. actions, and those of other states, after September 11, 2001. For other conflicts, see Terrorism.

The War on Terror (also known as the War on Terrorism
. An additional technique was to frame Iraq as Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein

(born April 28, 1937, Tikrit, Iraq—died Dec. 30, 2006, Baghdad) President of Iraq (1979–2003). He joined the Ba'th Party in 1957. Following participation in a failed attempt to assassinate Iraqi Pres.
, and then demonize de·mon·ize  
tr.v. de·mon·ized, de·mon·iz·ing, de·mon·iz·es
1. To turn into or as if into a demon.

2. To possess by or as if by a demon.

 him (an admittedly easy task) in all government pronouncements. The nation-as-person metaphor fits two classic fairy tale fairy tale

Simple narrative typically of folk origin dealing with supernatural beings. Fairy tales may be written or told for the amusement of children or may have a more sophisticated narrative containing supernatural or obviously improbable events, scenes, and personages
 mythologies, self defense and rescue. The hero (the U.S. and any allies) confronts a dangerous, evil and irrational villain and must defeat him, liberating his oppressed op·press  
tr.v. op·pressed, op·press·ing, op·press·es
1. To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.

 people. (1)

This research project involves using text analysis software to document the use of semantic framing by the U.S. government and how that framing may have been picked up by U.S. broadcast news organizations. The work looks at the one-month period of September 11th to October 11th, 2002, a period stretching from the first anniversary of a massive terror attack on the U.S. to the congressional vote to authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq.

Literature Review

The theoretical construct of framing has both unified and divided much recent research on political communication. In many ways it is a unifying thread, a link between methods of understanding content and techniques of measuring effects. It has been criticized for being a vague catch-all, its meaning shifting between authors and disciplines. Entman, however, nicely synthesized the approaches into this definition: "selecting and highlighting some facets of events or issues, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation, and/or solution." (2)

Framing, as a theoretical concept, emerged from agenda setting--the notion that media coverage does not tell the public what to think, but it does have an effect in telling them what subjects to think about. (3) Framing took agenda setting beyond audience salience sa·li·ence   also sa·li·en·cy
n. pl. sa·li·en·ces also sa·li·en·cies
1. The quality or condition of being salient.

2. A pronounced feature or part; a highlight.

Noun 1.
 and added that media coverage also indicated how that subject was to be approached by the audience, the acceptable range of terms, connections, and interpretations. Many scholars use interchangeably the terms framing and second-level agenda setting, though a dispute has emerged as to how appropriate it is to use the terms synonymously. (4)

One also can see framing as an extension of prospect theory and its assumption that subtle wording changes in any situation's description can affect how members of the audience interpret the situation. (5)

Framing also has roots in cognitive theories about how the human brain works. (6) It ties into schema theory, the idea that the synapses of our brains do not purely save and store facts. Instead, our brains link related ideas in associative patterns; ideas fitting patterns more easily find room than those with no existing "hook" to hold them.

In war and peace terms, schema may have evolved such as "needless suffering of civilians" or "noble and ultimate sacrifice for others."

Traditional communication models are largely linear, beginning with a speaker encoding a message, that message traveling through a medium to an audience, and that audience decoding, storing, and possibly reacting to the message. The short history of framing as a communication concept has followed that path backwards. It began as a means of understanding reception and storage. Later it was examination of messages for frames, and finally it became a begrudging be·grudge  
tr.v. be·grudged, be·grudg·ing, be·grudg·es
1. To envy the possession or enjoyment of: She begrudged him his youth. See Synonyms at envy.

 admiration of the propagandists, politicians, and public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most  practitioners who understood the process and constructed messages to maximum effect using it.

Framing can complement a political economy approach to news content. Gandy pulled together a multitude of sources to argue that most news content is the result of routine contacts with traditional sources, usually office holders and the bureaucrats beholden be·hold·en  
Owing something, such as gratitude, to another; indebted.

[Middle English biholden, past participle of biholden, to observe; see behold.
 to them. This yields a social relationship, but it also makes sense economically for the news organization and its routines. Even when these "information subsidies" from elites are suspect, time-constrained journalists often just "go with the flow" and follow the pack. This tendency only is stronger when the sources frame a strong and consistent message. (7)

Auerbach and Bloch-Elkon have pointed out that framing can have a particularly strong effect in foreign policy, an area where U.S. public opinion is not well informed and attitudes are not strongly held. Media framing becomes exponentially more important, they note, during the crises that precede potential military intervention The deliberate act of a nation or a group of nations to introduce its military forces into the course of an existing controversy. . They add that at such crucial moments media can play a significant role in opening the eyes of decision makers to reality. (8)

Another alternative is that media coverage can fail to offer that challenging, eye-opening coverage at a critical moment for war or peace, such as the build-up to the U.S. war in Iraq. That outcome would fit the historical pattern identified by Mowlana that major U.S. media outlets consistently support American foreign policy decisions at least in initial stages, and have not challenged the assumptions behind those decisions. (9)

Elites, such as government and military sources, are well aware of the concept of framing and the value of supportive news coverage. Since the Vietnam War Vietnam War, conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. , U.S. military operations This is a list of missions, operations, and projects. Missions in support of other missions are not listed independently. World War I
''See also List of military engagements of World War I
  • Albion (1917)
 have featured ever more sophisticated techniques for molding coverage, such as media pools and "embedded" reporters. (10)

Hiebert also has pointed out that the Iraq War Iraq War: see under Persian Gulf Wars.
Iraq War
 or Second Persian Gulf War

Brief conflict in 2003 between Iraq and a combined force of troops largely from the U.S. and Great Britain; and a subsequent U.S.
 was framed for the American people An American people may be:
  • any nation or ethnic group of the Americas
  • see Demographics of North America
  • see Demographics of South America
 by a coordinated government effort. That effort included the overall story theme and the issues to be considered, even if some were little more than slogans. "Making good television" was key, and that meant staging visually interesting briefings and embedding reporters with field units. The effort was at least temporarily successful at home, but generally failed in other countries. (11)

U.S. television news in particular merits attention because, as Entman has written. "The mixture of information processed that affects the public, politicians, and foreign policymakers has shifted toward the inclusion of more visual data." (12) War has played a particularly important role in the development of U.S. cable news operations. The Gulf War made Cable News Network (CNN) a serious contender for news ratings, and the war in Iraq solidified Fox News domestic ratings lead over CNN. (13)

This analysis of broadcast and cable television news coverage is, of course, informed by the work of those who studied framing of Iraq by the traditional [print] press; this research covered both the pre-war and war phases. Boaz, for example, points out that European press treated with legitimacy those calling for deliberation and against a rush to judgment. (14) In contrast, the American press portrayed protest as unpatriotic and anti-war arguments as irrelevant. In addition, the United Nations was marginalized in U.S. news media. (15)

Boaz's observations are supported by the Dimitrova and Stromback (2005) content analysis of U.S. and Swedish elite papers. Responsibility and antiwar an·ti·war  
Opposed to war or to a particular war: antiwar protests; an antiwar candidate. 
 coverage were featured prominently in the Swedish papers, but the American papers concentrated on the military conflict frame. (16) This trend also held true when Dimitrova, Kaid, Williams, and Trammell turned their attention to 246 international news web sites. International sites stressed responsibility while the U.S. domestic sites featured military coverage, human interest, and media self-coverage. Further, online coverage in countries supporting the war was more positive than the coverage in countries not supporting the war. (17)

The Bush Administration's desire to link Iraq and terrorism was given a lift by Time and Newsweek as well. Fried analyzed images in the immediate pre-war period and found these magazines frequently juxtaposed jux·ta·pose  
tr.v. jux·ta·posed, jux·ta·pos·ing, jux·ta·pos·es
To place side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.
 terrorism and Iraq and used graphics that linked Iraq to terrorism and terrorists. (18) This outcome fits what Ryan described as a semantic struggle to conflate con·flate  
tr.v. con·flat·ed, con·flat·ing, con·flates
1. To bring together; meld or fuse: "The problems [with the biopic] include . .
 the September 11th terror attack with the flag, patriotism, and the militarism Militarism
See also Soldiering.


leader of the Seven against Thebes. [Gk. Myth.: Iliad]


killed many enemies; led many troops to victory. [Ger. Lit. Nibelungenlied]
 directed at Iraq. (19) The equation United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  = Freedom = Flag even found its way into a popular Ad Council public service announcement in which a neighborhood blossoms with flags in response to the terror attacks. This was so successful that it put anti-war groups on the defensive, forcing them to declare "peace is patriotic" just as Bush was pushing for the Iraq War. (20)

It also was necessary for the Bush Administration to frame the 9/11 attack not as terrorism or a crime but as an act of war. Crimes against humanity unite us in horror against individual acts, but acts of war Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Acts of War is a technothriller by Jeff Rovin Plot introduction
The mobile Regional Operations Center (ROC) in Turkey investigates a dam blown up by Kurdish terrorists.
 on nation-states mandate a response against an external nation-state enemy. (21)

Luther and Miller did a very instructive analysis of U.S. newspaper coverage of pro-war and anti-war rallies in the period from the pre-war State of the Union speech to the "Mission Accomplished" photo opportunity. They reviewed 386 Stories from the Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)

Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
 and eight newspapers. The news articles used significantly more delegitimization cues for anti-war events than for pro-war events.

The authors also used a mapping and cluster analysis Cluster analysis

A statistical technique that identifies clusters of stocks whose returns are highly correlated within each cluster and relatively uncorrelated across clusters. Cluster analysis has identified groupings such as growth, cyclical, stable, and energy stocks.
 of a different set of data to create master frames for both the pro-war and anti-war sides. Specifically, these frames emerged from analysis of 182 texts (105 anti-war and seventy-seven pro-war) from organizers of rallies. United for Peace and Justice United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is a coalition of more than 1,300[1] international and U.S.-based organizations opposed to what they describe as "our government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building. , Act Now to Stop the War and End Racism, Win Without War were the anti-war groups. Americans for Victory Over Terrorism, Young America's Foundation, and Patriots-Defense of America were the pro-war groups.

Fighting for Freedom and Democracy and Threat from Weapons of Mass Destruction were the pro-war frames. The former appeared frequently in news coverage of pro-war events, the latter did not and. in fact, was more likely to appear in anti-war stories. Clearly the failure to find any such weapons became, as the war progressed, an argument for war opponents. Anti-war frames stressed world opinion, oil, occupation, and the strength of the protest events themselves. Global resistance, however, was not as strong a frame as the others. (22)

Most analyses of pre-war coverage tend to use print coverage, not broadcast. This oversight must be corrected. As Hiebert reminds us, the Iraq war was framed by government sources using the techniques of public relations and propaganda. The story lines, issues, terms, and slogans were all geared toward making good television. This article will attempt to address the research gap by examining broadcast transcripts. (23)

Lehmann looked at the pre-war period as related to United Nations weapons inspectors and as covered by two print and two television news organizations from both Germany and the U.S. Each reflected the government position on the war (U.S. for; Germany against). Lehmann also noted how the U.S. media failed to be "watchdogs" about U.S. government claims. (24)

One intriguing cross-cultural analysis of 1,820 broadcast stories was done by Aday, Livingston, and Hebert. They found that during the war one U.S. news organization, Fox News Channel, displayed clear bias in support of the U.S.-led war effort. ABC CBS, CNN, NBC and even the Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera overall exhibited balanced coverage. All the American networks showed a war without much blood, dissent, or diplomacy. (25)

This distinction of Fox News as a decidedly pro-war, pro-Bush news outlet has been the subject of a documentary and accompanying book. (26) Furthermore, Morris' analysis of 1998 to 2004 Pew surveys on media consumption found that CNN and Fox News audiences are becoming politically polarized A one-way direction of a signal or the molecules within a material pointing in one direction. . Fox News viewers, compared to CNN viewers, are less likely to follow stories critical of the Bush administration but more likely to follow entertainment stories. The findings suggest the Fox News audience enjoys news accounts that share or reflect their personal views. Network news and CNN audiences prefer news that includes more in-depth interviews with public officials. Further, Fox News viewers were more likely than viewers of non-Fox options to underestimate rather than overestimate the number of American casualties in Iraq. (27)

Program on International Policy Attitudes The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) is an institution devoted to research on the public opinion of international politics. It is jointly run by the Center on Policy Attitudes and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland at the School of Public  public opinion polls conducted January through September 2003 found that persons who report relying on Fox News had greater misperceptions about the Iraq War. Some eighty percent of Fox News viewers got one or more of three items wrong. Thirty-three percent believed that the U.S. has found Weapons of Mass Destruction. Thirty-five percent thought global public opinion supported the war. Two-thirds thought the U.S. has found clear evidence Saddam Hussein was working closely with al-Qaeda. The overall forty-five percent error rate for Fox News viewers was higher than the error rate for viewers of all other broadcast and cable news outlets as well as those who relied on print media. (28)

If U.S. broadcast news programs during this period were not attending to their watchdog role, then one would expect those news programs to rely heavily on administration sources, and pass along predominantly pro-war framing words. This claim will be approached as a research question. Hypothesis One addresses the claim that Fox News will pass along a higher percentage of pro-war terms (as opposed to anti-war terms) when Fox News is compared to another twenty-four hour cable news channel (CNN) or the other broadcast news programs analyzed. A final research question will address whether incorrect Iraq War notions held by Fox News viewers correlates with lesser Fox coverage of those particular subjects (no WMD WMD

white muscle disease.
, no al-Qaeda link, majority international public opinion against the war, number of American casualties). Because some of these matters were not confirmed until after the outbreak of war, some additional tallies and keyword searches will be used to supplement the larger inquiry.


The project used broadcast transcripts from the Lexis/Nexis Academic database. The broadcast and cable transcripts come from a broad array of news and talk programs. The transcripts were identified using the keyword Iraq in the Headline and Key Terms area, the appropriate news or news/talk program in the Show area, and the dates of 9/11/02 to 10/11/02 in the Dates area. Approximately half of these were copied by the researcher, one story per document, into Microsoft Word A full-featured word processing program for Windows and the Macintosh from Microsoft. Included in the Microsoft application suite, it is a sophisticated program with rudimentary desktop publishing capabilities that has become the most widely used word processing application on the market.  documents. The remaining half were copied by graduate student volunteers in a Public Opinion class.

The nightly newscasts and morning news programs of ABC, NBC, and CBS were included. CNBC's primetime newscast with Brian Williams This article is about the American journalist. For other uses, see Brian Williams (disambiguation).
Brian Douglas Williams (born May 5, 1959) is an anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the flagship evening news program of the NBC television network.
 was included. The public radio programs All Things Considered All Things Considered (ATC) is a news radio program in the United States, broadcast on the National Public Radio network. It was the first news program on the network, and is broadcast live worldwide through several outlets. , Fresh Air, and Marketplace were included, as was public television's Newshour with Jim Lehrer James Charles Lehrer (pronounced [lɛɹə]) (born May 19, 1934) is an American journalist. He is the news anchor for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. .

The transcripts for Cable News Network came from the following eleven programs: American Morning American Morning is the morning television show on CNN. It premiered in 2002. About the Show
American Morning features co-hosts Kiran Chetry and John Roberts.
, Daybreak, Live Today, Crossfire A multi-GPU interface from ATI for connecting two ATI display adapters together for faster graphics rendering on one monitor. CrossFire machines require PCI Express slots, a CrossFire-enabled motherboard and, depending on which models are used, either a pair of ATI Radeon adapters or one , Inside Politics, Lou Dobbs Lou Dobbs (born September 24 1945), is the CNN anchor and managing editor for Lou Dobbs Tonight. He is also an editorial columnist and syndicated radio show host. Lou Dobbs Tonight attracts CNN's second-largest audience after Larry King Live  Moneyline, Newsnight, Wolf Blitzer Reports Wolf Blitzer Reports was a CNN show hosted by Wolf Blitzer that last aired weekdays at 5pm ET. It was canceled in 2005. Blitzer is now host of The Situation Room.

CNN programming
, Larry King Live Larry King Live is a nightly CNN interview program hosted by broadcaster and writer Larry King. The show premiered in 1985, and is CNN's most watched program, with over one million viewers nightly. , CNN Saturday, and CNN Sunday.

The transcripts for Fox News Channel came from the following ten programs: The Beltway Boys, The O'Reilly Factor, Your World with Neil Cavuto Your World with Neil Cavuto (written on-air as Your World Cavuto), which debuted as the Cavuto Business Report on the network's launch in 1996, is an American business television program appearing on Fox News Channel. , Special Report with Brit Hume Special Report with Brit Hume is an American television program appearing on Fox News Channel. It is aired live each Monday through Friday at 6:00 p.m. ET. The show is hosted by Brit Hume, Washington managing editor for the network. , Hannity & Colmes, Fox On the Record with Greta Van Susteren Greta Van Susteren (born June 11, 1954 in Appleton, Wisconsin) is an American journalist and television personality on the Fox News Channel where she hosts On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. She previously worked at CNN from 1991 to 2002. , The Big Story with John Gibson John Gibson is a common name, shared by:
  • John Gibson (sculptor), (1790-1866) - British sculptor
  • John Gibson (architect), (1817-1892) - British architect
  • John Gibson (Indiana), Territorial Secretary of Indiana Territory
, Fox Wire, The Pulse, and Fox News Sunday Fox News Sunday is a public affairs magazine on Fox, airing on Sunday mornings. The show, which began in 1996, is hosted by Chris Wallace. The show, which predates the launch of Fox News Channel, usually talks about items similar to Sunday-morning interview shows. .

All transcripts were imported into the QDA QDA Quantity Discount Agreement
QDA Quantitative Data Analysis
QDA Quick Defect Analysis
QDA Quadratic Discriminate Analysis
QDA Qualitative Data Analysis
 Miner text analysis program and then further analyzed using WordStat, Microsoft Excel (tool) Microsoft Excel - A spreadsheet program from Microsoft, part of their Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh. Excel is probably the most widely used spreadsheet in the world.

Latest version: Excel 97, as of 1997-01-14.
, and SPSS A statistical package from SPSS, Inc., Chicago ( that runs on PCs, most mainframes and minis and is used extensively in marketing research. It provides over 50 statistical processes, including regression analysis, correlation and analysis of variance. . Subset coding kept track of which transcripts were from Fox, which were from CNN, and which were from the other broadcast newscasts used. The QDA miner program used "Lemminization" to group together stems and stem words (eg. America, American, America's). The program also used an exclusion feature to eliminate small, routine words such as a, an, and the.

The transcript-gathering process yielded 1326 files. Unfortunately, student data copying or entry errors led to 154 unusable files scattered across the various categories with no one category disproportionately affected. The 1172 usable files from thirty-four programs totaled 1,832,405 words, including 23,656 unique words.

The transcripts were compared against three "dictionaries" of words and phrases: the Luther/Miller pro-war and anti-war Frame Words derived from activist groups, a list of words and phrases suggested by the frames identified by other authors in the literature review (Appendix), and a set of keywords and phrases derived from a QDA Miner analysis of twelve Bush Administration briefings during the time period under study.


The top-ten words in the transcripts (president, war, people, united, state, resolution, Saddam, weapon, Bush, time) yielded few surprises, though even that list hints at the administration's insistence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The patterns are clearer in the top phrases (Table 1). That list makes clear that Weapons of Mass Destruction and Iraqi links to al-Qaeda were frequent topics, most often viewed through the prism of administration sources, pending military action, and events on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. Thus, the claims in the first research question generally were supported.
Table 1. Top Phrases in Iran Broadcast News Coverage (2-6 words)
(excluding video instructions, Van Susteren, Good Morning, Jim Lehrer)

Phrase                   Frequency  # Transcripts  % Transcripts

Saddam Hussein              2715          753           64.2

United State(s)             2643          673           57.4

United Nation(s)            1872          541           46.2

White House                 1811          480           41.0

President Bush              1502          633           54.0

Security Council            1399          445           38.0

Weapons of Mass             1066          467           39.8

Mass Destruction            1058          462           39.4

Weapon of Mass              1048          460           39.2

Weapon Inspector            923           389           33.2

Al Qaeda                    766           193           16.5

American People             580           243           20.7

Military Action             558           338           28.8

Bush Administration         550           297           25.3

National Security           492           222           18.9

Prime Minister              463           204           17.4

Tom Daschle                 434           197           16.8

Nuclear Weapon              433           205           17.5

Year Ago                    420           229           19.5

Secretary of State          417           222           18.9

President of the            402           246           21.0

President of the United     400           245           20.9

War with Iraq               398           259           22.1

Gulf War                    396           248           21.2

Regime Change               371           188           16.0

Capitol Hill                357           211           18.0

Biological Weapons          350           169           14.4

Fox News and CNN (and the other broadcast news programs analyzed) showed little difference in the use of the Luther/Miller pro-war and anti-war terms as derived through the statements of activist groups. However, the broader set of terms derived from the literature review found a significant difference in the expected direction. Compared to CNN, Fox News programs were more likely to use the pro-war terms and less likely to use the anti-war terms. In a bit of a surprise, both CNN and Fox had higher percentages of pro-war and lower percentages of anti-war terms when compared to the other broadcast news programs in this analysis. Specifically, Fox News was 68.8% pro-war framing words; CNN was 63.0%. The combined ABC, CBS. NBC. CNBC, and public broadcasting tally was 60.3% pro-war framing words (Table 2). These results overall support the hypothesis.
Table 2. Fox v. CNN v. Others on Pro-War and Anti-War Words (Lit Review
set) *

                      Anti-War     Pro-War       Total

Fox News Channel    2416(31.2%)   5319(68.8%)  7735(100%)
Cable News Network  4497(37.0%)   7644(63.0%)  12141(100%)
Total Count         6913(34.8%)  12963(65.2%)  19876(100%)

     Pearson Chi Square for Fox v. CNN, 70.193, p <.001

                      Anti-War     Pro-War       Total

Fox News Channel    2416(31.2%)   5319(68.8%)   7735(100%)

    ABC, CBS, NBC Networks/Public Broadcasting/CNBC

                    3494(39.7%)   5299(60.3%)   8793(100%)
Total Count         5910(35.8%)  10618(64.2%)  16528(100%)

Pearson Chi Square for Fox v. Networks, etc., 129.473, p <.001

Cable News Network  4497(37.0%)  7644(63.0%)   12141(100%)

    ABC, CBS, NBC Networks/Public Broadcasting/CNBC

                    3494(39.7%)   5299(60.3%)   8793(100%)
Total Count         7991(38.2%)  12943(61.8%)  20934(100%)

Pearson Chi Square for CNN v. Networks, etc., 15.70967, p <.001

The final research question required a modest additional tally. The researchers returned to Lexis/Nexis, and expanded the date range from September 11, 2002 to January 24, 2006. They then conducted a keyword search for Iraq and a full text search for "no WMD" or "no Weapons of Mass Destruction." CNN had 830 transcripts matching those criteria. Fox only 213. The combined ABC, CBS, NBC tally was 358. Debunking de·bunk  
tr.v. de·bunked, de·bunk·ing, de·bunks
To expose or ridicule the falseness, sham, or exaggerated claims of: debunk a supposed miracle drug.
 the pre-war Iraq link to al-Qaeda could take several constructions. CNN had 21 transcripts with "no link to al-Qaeda" or "no link to 9/11." Fox had 8; the combined networks had 4.

Staying with Iraq as a keyword search, the researchers then tried War in combination with Global or World or International or European Public Opinion in the full text. CNN tallied eighty-eight transcripts, Fox thirty-one, the combined networks twenty-six. The phrases American casualties and war (keyword Iraq) yielded just seventy-four Fox News transcripts compared to 282 from CNN and 201 from the combined networks. These numbers lend support to the second research question. It is quite plausible that Fox News viewers have a distorted view of these matters because they have much less exposure to stories about these topics.

Of course, one could argue that the smaller Fox News tallies could be a result of fewer Fox News transcripts available in the database. However, if one checks the Iraq War story totals, one finds a ratio of less than two to one CNN to Fox stories. The ratios on these particular topics often have CNN with three or four times as many stories as Fox.

Though pro-war outnumbered anti-war terms in this analysis, one should not assume this result comes entirely from parroting Bush Administration terms. Indeed, twenty-eight frequent phrases used in twelve administration briefings came up in relatively small numbers: 6036 times on CNN, 3200 times on Fox, and 3544 on the other networks studied. For CNN and Fox, these amount only to 0.7% of all words, 0.8% for the other networks. Clearly, pro-war and anti-war phrases also can come from Capitol Hill, think tanks, activist groups, other sources, and original composition.

One final caution is needed. It is clear that during this period the pro-war framing terms were dominant in these transcripts. However, the technique used cannot determine in what context words were used. Nevertheless, it is hard to argue against the proposition that during this key period pro-war terminology framed the debate and that Fox News with CNN and others trailing served up those terms in significant number.


Gasher states that language is a powerful weapon of war. He conducted a textual analysis of Time and Newsweek, covering the two weeks preceding and following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He determined the news coverage delivered a message remarkably similar to that of the Bush Administration. The war was a relatively benign solution to a serious and immediate threat, a message designed to play to well to a nation still traumatized by the terror attacks of September 11th and still familiar with the Gulf War demonization de·mon·ize  
tr.v. de·mon·ized, de·mon·iz·ing, de·mon·iz·es
1. To turn into or as if into a demon.

2. To possess by or as if by a demon.

 of Saddam Hussein. The war would be an overwhelming display of technological, moral, and military supremacy welcomed by the oppressed people in the war zone. (29)

The list of phrases certainly validates Gasher's point about the personalization of the war around Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. Only three phrases occurred in a majority of the news stories: United States, President Bush, and Saddam Hussein. In this historical case study U.S. broadcast news programs quickly adopted the symbolic environment being peddled by the Bush Administration about the forthcoming war with Iraq. These persistently parroted metaphors were not only a political misuse of framing via word choice, but were also an ethical abrogation The destruction or annulling of a former law by an act of the legislative power, by constitutional authority, or by usage. It stands opposed to rogation; and is distinguished from derogation, which implies the taking away of only some part of a law; from Subrogation,  by news media of their purported watchdog role regarding government abuses.

One should be careful, however, not overstate the case for media influence. As Strobel demonstrated in an exhaustive review of recent wars, media coverage generally plays a supportive rather than lead role in a nation's path to war (30). What is particularly disturbing about the Iraq War is how long the Bush Administration stuck to details from the initial mythology (Weapons of Mass Destruction, pre-war Iraqi links to al-Qaeda) long after news organizations had carried substantial refutations of those claims. To some outsiders it appeared George W. Bush and his spokesmen had started to believe their own spin, a sort of faith-based foreign policy that if one says it long and hard enough it will become true.


(1.) Lakoff, George. Don't Think of an Elephant. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2005.

(2.) Entman, Robert M. Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago and publishes a wide variety of academic titles, including The Chicago Manual of Style, dozens of academic journals, including , 2004, p. 5.

(3.) McCombs, Maxwell E. and Donald L. Shaw. (1972). "The agenda-setting function of mass media," The Public Opinion Quarterly 36 (2), pp. 176-187.

(4.) Scheufele, Dietram A. (2000). "Agenda-Setting, Priming, and Framing Revisited: Another Look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication," Mass Communication & Society 3 (2&3), pp. 297-316.

(5.) Kahneman, Daniel Kahneman, Daniel

(born March 5, 1934, Tel Aviv, Israel) Israeli-born psychologist. He attended Hebrew University (B.A., 1954) in Jerusalem and the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., 1961).
 and Amos Tversky Amos Tversky (March 16, 1937 - June 2, 1996) was a cognitive and mathematical psychologist, and a pioneer of cognitive science, a longtime collaborator of Daniel Kahneman, and a key figure in the discovery of systematic human cognitive bias and handling of risk. , (1979). "Prospect Theory: An analysis of decision under risk," Econometrica 47 (2), pp. 263-292. Also see Schuefele, p. 309.

(6.) Hiebert, Ray Eldon. (2003). "Public relations and propaganda in framing the Iraq war: a preliminary review," Public Relations Review 29 (3), pp. 243-255.

(7.) Gandy, Oscar. Beyond Agenda Setting: Information Subsidies and Public Policy. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Co., 1982.

(8.) Auerbach, Yehudith and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon. (2005). "Media Framing and Foreign Policy: The Elite Press vis-a-vis US Policy in Bosnia, 1992-95," Journal of Peace Research 42 (1), pp. 83-99.

(9.) Mowlana, Hamid. "The media and foreign policy: a framework analysis" in Abbas Malek, ed, News Media and Foreign Relations Foreign relations may refer to:
  • Diplomacy, the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or nations
  • Foreign policy, a set of political goals that seeks to outline how a particular country will interact with other countries of the
. Norwood: N.J.: Ablex Publishing Co., 1997, pp. 29-41.

(10.) Martin, Shannon E. (2006). "US Media Pools and Military Interventions in the 1980s and 1990s " Journal of Peace Research 43(5), pp. 601-616.

(11.) Hiebert, Ray Eldon. (2003). "Public relations and propaganda in framing the Iraq war: a preliminary review," Public Relations Review 29 (3), pp. 243-255.

(12.) Entman, Robert M. (2000). "Declarations of Independence: The Growth of Media Power after the Cold War," in Brigitte L. Nacos Brigitte L. Nacos is a part time Lecturer in political science at Columbia University. She has written on the news media, the politics of Germany, and terrorism.

She is a joint author of a paper which was delivered at the Summer 2006 meeting of the American Political Science
, Robert Y. Shapiro & Pierangelo Isernia, eds, Decision Making in a Glass House: Mass Media, Public Opinion, and American and European Foreign Policy in the 21st Century. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (Chapter 2), p. 12.

(13.) Collins, Scott. Crazy like a Fox: The Inside Story of How Fox Sews Beat CNN. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: Penguin Books, 2004.

(14.) Boaz, Cynthia. (2005). "War and foreign Policy Framing in International Media." Peace Review 17 (4), pp. 349-356.

(15.) Barker-Plummer, Bernadette. (2005). "Framing the UN in International War News," Peace Review 17 (4), pp. 365-372.

(16.) Dimitrova, Daniela V. and Jesper Stromback. (2005). "Mission Accomplished?" Gazette: International Journal for Communication Studies 67 (5), pp. 399-417.

(17.) Dimitrova, Daniela V.; Lynda Lee Kaid; Andrew Paul Andrew Paul (born Mile End, London, 17 March 1961) is a British actor best known for playing PC Dave Quinnan in the ITV drama The Bill for 13 years.

Paul was an actor in adolescence, turning professional at the age of 14 when he enrolled at a stage school.
 Williams; and Kaye D. Trammell. (2005). "War on the Web: The Immediate News Framing of Gulf War II," Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 10 (1), pp. 22-44.

(18.) Fried, Amy. (2005). "Terrorism as a Context of Coverage before the Iraq War," Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 10 (3), pp. 125-132.

(19.) Ryan, David. (2004). "Framing September 11: Rhetorical Device Noun 1. rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
rhetoric - study of the technique and rules for using language effectively (especially in public speaking)
 and Photographic Opinion," European Journal European Journal is a weekly Deutsche Welle (DW) news program produced in English. It is broadcast from Brussels, Belgium and primarily covers political and economic developments across the European Union and the rest of Europe, as well as issues of particular concern to  of American Culture 23 (1), pp. 5-20.

(20.) Jensen, Robert. (2003). "Patriotism's a Bad Idea at a Dangerous Time." Peace Review 15 (4), pp. 389-396.

(21.) Haslanger, Sally. (2003). "Gender, Patriotism, and the Events of 9/11." Peace Review 15 (4), pp. 457-461.

(22.) Luther, Catherine A. and Mark M. Miller. (2005). "Framing the 2003 U.S.-Iraq War Demonstrations: An Analysis of News and Partisan Texts." Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 82 (1), pp. 78-96.

(23.) Hiebert, Ray Eldon. (2003). "Public relations and propaganda in framing the Iraq war: a preliminary review." Public Relations Review 29 (3), pp. 243-255.

(24.) Lehmann, Ingrid A. (2005). "Exploring the Transatlantic Media Divide over Iraq: How and Why U.S. and German Media Differed in Reporting on U.N. Weapons Inspections in Iraq, 2002-2003." Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 10(1), pp. 63-89.

(25.) Aday, Sean; Steven Livingston and Macye Hebert. (2005). "Embedding the Truth: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Objectivity and Television Coverage of the Iraq War." Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 10(1), pp. 3-21.

(26.) Greenwald, Robert. (2004). Outfoxed [videorecording]: Rupert Murdoch's war on journalism / a Robert Greenwald film;; produced and directed by Robert Greenwald;; New York, NY: Distributed by the Disinformation dis·in·for·ma·tion  
1. Deliberately misleading information announced publicly or leaked by a government or especially by an intelligence agency in order to influence public opinion or the government in another nation:
 Co. Kitty, Alexandra, 2005. Outfoxed (introduction by Robert Greenwald). New York: The Disinformation Company, Ltd.

(27.) Morris, Jonathan S. (2005). "The Fox News factor." Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 10 (3), pp. 56-79.

(28.) Kull, Steven, principal investigator Noun 1. principal investigator - the scientist in charge of an experiment or research project

scientist - a person with advanced knowledge of one or more sciences
. (2003,October 2). The PIPA/Knowledge Networks Poll. Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War. http://www.pipa pipa
 or p'i-p'a

Short-necked Chinese lute. It has a pear-shaped body and a fretted fingerboard, and the silk strings are plucked with the fingernails. It is prominent in the opera orchestra and as an ensemble, solo, and accompanying instrument.
.org/OnlineReports/Iraq/Media_10_02_03_Report.pdf. Viewed Jan. 24, 2006.

(29.) Gasher, Mike. "News Reportage in the War in Iraq" in Lee Artz & Yahya R. Kamalipour This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , eds, Bring 'Em On: Media and Polities in the Iraq War. New York: Rowan and Littlefield, 2003, pp. 209-224.

(30.) Strobel, Warren P. Late-Breaking Foreign Policy: The News Media's Influence on Peace Operations A broad term that encompasses peacekeeping operations and peace enforcement operations conducted in support of diplomatic efforts to establish and maintain peace. Also called PO. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacekeeping; and peacemaking. . Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace The United States Institute of Peace or USIP was established in 1986 by the United States Congress to study the "prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts" [1].  Press, 1997.


Luther/Miller Anti-War Frame Words: war, nonviolent, peace, empire, corporation, civil, world, global, communities, movement, actions, antiwar, people, opposition, organizations, social, resistance, aggression, struggle, march, coalition, solidarity, economic, international, justice, mobilization, oil, demonstration, U.S., protest, marched, campaign, globalization globalization

Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation
, coordinated, activists, occupation. (Not used: anti, stop, against).

Luther/Miller Pro-War Frame Words: weapons, terrorism, chemical, biological, terrorist, regime, America, terrorists, values, victory, evidence, protecting, terror, Americans, disarm, missile, Western, moral, defense, destruction, threat, troops, freedom, support, democracy, America's, liberty, ideals, nuclear, culture, democracies, security. (Not used: students, talk, experts, Cold, better, superior, pro).

Anti-War Words and Phrases suggested by Literature Review: deliberation, rush, judgment, responsibility, responsible, caution, diplomacy, diplomatic, inspect, inspection, inspector, United Nations, U.N., global, public, opinion, pre-emptive pre·emp·tive or pre-emp·tive  
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of preemption.

2. Having or granted by the right of preemption.

, imperial, civilian casualties Civilian casualties is a military term describing civilian or non-combatant persons killed or injured by military action. The description of civilian casualties includes any form of military action regardless of whether civilians were targeted directly. , protest, opposition, oppose, attack, invade, invasion, unilateral, oil, occupation, occupy, resistance, sanctions, quagmire, Vietnam, consult, consensus, cowboy, neo-con, empire.

Pro-War Words and Phrases suggested by Literature Review: threat, danger, weapons, Saddam, regime, dictator, tyrant, war on terror, patriot, patriotic, patriotism, military, flag, act of war, democracy, freedom, al-Qaeda, terror, terrorism, terrorist, plot, 9/11, September 11, coalition, fighting, defense, WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Osama, Bin Laden, disarm, power, chemical, biological, nuclear, leader, leadership.

MARK HARMON For the musician of the same name, see .

Mark Thomas Harmon (born September 2, 1951) is an American actor. As of 2007, Harmon is the star of the CBS series NCIS.

* Mark D. Harmon, is an associate professor in the School of Journalism & Electronic Media. College of Communication and Information, University of Tennessee The University of Tennessee (UT), sometimes called the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UT Knoxville or UTK), is the flagship institution of the statewide land-grant University of Tennessee public university system in the American state of Tennessee. , Knoxville. Contact: Robert Muenchen is at the Statistical Consulting Center. University of Tennessee. Contact:
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