It's easy to underestimate the importance of images. Take, for example, this 2003 image of George Bush on the USS Lincoln (from www.kwhitaker.com). He's clearly the leader. He's clearly the man in charge. He clearly has a suspiciously large crotch, perfectly designed for photo opportunities, but abysmally situated for a flight harness. Guys, do you really want tight straps yanking against your testicals like that? I didn't think so. (no comment about the crotch of the guy in the right of the photo)
The fact is, appearance is an extremely powerful psychological tool. I remember back when I sold cars and we were reminded repeatedly that some customers simply can't be sold to because we look like an ex-husband or a hated neighbor. Appearance is important. Appearance can prejudice you in so many ways. News sources repeatedly pick images that make a story more powerful, but those images can be misleading. It can be very difficult to choose a "fair" image, particularly when one is biased.
So let's consider Conservapedia. They state that they are without the liberal and anti-Christian bias of other online sources like Wikipedia. Now I believe it's quite possible to be a devout conservative Christian and yet still believe it's only honest to try and present a fair viewpoint of the opinions of others. Is this true of Conservapedia? Let's take a look at their images.
Note that unless otherwise stated, all images are from Conservapedia as of May 3, 2007. I have not altered them aside from attempting to resize them to match a corresponding "liberal" image (the image of the "conservative" individual is usually much larger for some reason ...)
What's interesting is that I didn't have to search around for "good" images for this. I just looked for famous liberals and was horrified by what I saw. I haven't seen a bad image of a conservative icon yet.
|The Winner and the HeisenPresident|
|Not much to say. Bush is made to look presidential and Gore looks bloated.|
|Bill O'Reilly and His Bête Noir|
|One is studious and thoughtful and the other one is a retard. Too bad the pictures get it backwards.|
|The Conservative Limbaugh versus the Liberal Limbaugh|
|Guess which one is a thrice-divorced, self-confessed drug addict?|
|The Bitch and The Conspiracy Nut|
|Ann, you put the "cunt" in country (with apologies to abrichar, from whom I stole that line, though it sounds better than it reads).|
|The Gipper and The Comeback Kid|
|Whoa! What's going on here? Did conservapedia decide to play it fair? Nah! Just read the articles. Reagan's has a long justification of the Iran/Contra scandal (though never referred to as such), and ignores the many other scandals his administration had. Clinton's is character assassination at its finest.|
Of course, while the images make their rather blatant propaganda clear, it's the text which really hammers the points home. Articles about conservatives are usually fairly positive, and the ones regarding liberals (or what the US tends to refer to as liberals), are fairly negative. My favorite bit, I think, is their heavy use of "scare quotes", such as reference to Clinton's attempt at health care "reform".
Next time you read a news article with a photo, particularly if it's a political one, pay attention to the photo they've chosen. While it may not be as amateurish an attempt at propaganda as Conservapedia's, it could say a lot about about the message they want to get across.