Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Romney, MSNBC, and the McGurk Effect

It would seem that MSNBC has been caught in an act that can only be called tantamount to journalistic prostitution. Ace of Spades reports (h/t Instapundit) that the cable news network ran a clip showing an airport rally where Mitt Romney introduces Paul Ryan and the audience starts shouting, according to the chyron at the bottom of the screen, “Ryan! Ryan!” and Romney interrupts saying, “No, it’s Romney-Ryan! Romney-Ryan!” This, of course, makes Romney look both churlish and pathetic at the same time.

The only trouble is that the crowd wasn’t yelling “Ryan! Ryan!” it was yelling “Romney! Romney!” when Romney interrupts and graciously insists that his running mate is a vital part of the team–just about the exact opposite. The video, apparently, came from a left-wing blogger who put the clip on YouTube, including the chyron, and it was just much too good for MSNBC to check.

How does it work? It’s the McGurk effect, which, I confess, I had never heard of before this afternoon. Vision rules the human sensory apparatus. If our eyes tell us one thing and our ears another, the eyes, to coin a phrase, have it. We “hear” what our eyes tell us we heard. There’s a fascinating video at Ace of Spades of a professor explaining it.

So if you want to make the audience hear something that wasn’t said, simply put it in a chyron and you have, almost literally, put words in another person’s mouth. That’s a neat trick, especially for “journalists” who have an agenda and no integrity.