Titta dom snackar! : En studie i svenska politikers försvarstal
Political scandals are constantly abound in the media, rulers face the global tribunal of the mass media and are forced to defend their actions and above all, their position in society. This essay concerns itself with that defence – more specifi- cally with the defence of four Swedish politicians in high office during four different scandals. Gudrun Schymans’ eva- sion, Laila Freivalds’ dealing with the tsunami disaster in Thailand, Annie Lööfs’ tangle concerning representation notes and public documents and Tobias Billströms’ statements concerning undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers. The essays purpose is to study how each and everyone of these politicians communicate and defend themselves, what rhetor- ical strategies are employed and how the two largest newspapers in Sweden, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet, frame and portray the scandals. This is in order to discern how current Swedish politicians work rhetorically in situations of crisis where one’s reputation is at stake, and how media mediate these scandals. This is examined with classical rheto- ric’s stasis theory and William L. Benoit’s theories concerning image restoration as the theoretical foundation. This is complemented with the theories of portrayal- and agenda setting to describe the newspapers’ depiction of the separate scandals. The method consists of a qualitative content analysis of news articles, video recordings and TV broadcasts of media appearances. Annie Lööf uses a number of different strategies in her apology, status coniecturalis is prominent initial- ly but however when new information disproves her statements, she moves to status qualitatis, and the state of purgatio, the state she primarily applies together with the defeasibility strategy. Tobias Billström limits himself to only one state and exclusively uses the weakest of status qualitatis states: deprecatio. Laila Freivalds applies primarily the defeasibility strategy but also uses the purgatio and deprecatio. Gudrun Schyman also uses the qualitative state purgatio but also the defeasibility strategy and the theory of image restorations mortification. The newspapers depict all of the scandals differently depending on political affiliation but not depending on gender. The conclusion consists of that an open strategy that changes in pace with the flow of new information should be employed, and that statements that later may turn out to be false should not be used in the defence. The defence should be reactive rather than static. Further it is apparent that political affiliation affects the portrayal and framing of the scandals in the case of both newspapers.
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