The Sport of Shafting Fans and Taxpayers: An Application of the Propaganda Model to the Coverage of Professional Athletes and Team Owners
Chapter from the book: Pedro-Carañana, J et al. 2018. The Propaganda Model Today: Filtering Perception and Awareness.
While evidence for Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model (PM) has been well-documented on such issues as anti-globalization protests, the environment, and American foreign policy, this author could find no study that applies the PM to sports coverage. Since Chomsky argues that critical theorists should not restrict themselves to elite subjects (M. Achbar and P. Witonick. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, Zeitgeist Video, 1992), this paper content-analysed the coverage of professional athletes vs. that of sports team owners to determine quantitatively the extent of the hegemonic biases predicted in the PM. Not surprisingly, the study found that the elite New York Times, naively perceived as ‘liberal’ and pro-worker, generally covered their fellow elites – sports owners – neutrally, if not benevolently while covering professional athletes negatively. For example, NFL players were much more likely to be called ‘greedy’ than NFL owners were. Corroborating this finding of systemic bias, the study also found that Google.com overwhelmingly characterized NFL owners more favourably than NFL players. As predicted by the PM, this double standard in coverage serves the owners’ interests at the expense of their admittedly well-paid workers.