June 26, 2014

VIRGINIA POSTREL: Is A Picture Worth 1,000 Polls?

President Barack Obama’s poll numbers have been terrible lately, hitting a low of 41 percent approval in the most recent Gallup and Wall Street Journal-NBC polls. That’s hardly surprising, given the state of his foreign policy. But there’s hope.

Whoever selected the photos for Monday’s big New York Times story on the “achingly ephemeral” end of U.S. involvement in Iraq may have done the president a big favor. Presumably intended as irony, the images of Obama from December 2011, including one of him amid an enthusiastic crowd of soldiers, all make him look good. Although undercut by a more up-to-date photo of a downcast president, the upbeat images also outnumber it three-to-one.

U.S. media use images to manipulate opinion. Kind of like they use words.