MC²: Duplicitous Portrayals of McCain and Mariah Carey in Media

While scrolling through my Instagram Explore page the other day, I came across a video that seemed a little too entertaining to be real. An annoyed Mariah Carey shoots daggers at Ariana Grande, who many believe has taken Carey’s place in the music industry, as she belts vocal runs in a rather over-the-top fashion during a carpool karaoke session. Although I found it difficult to believe that Carey would publicly disrespect Grande in such close quarters, the video was edited so seamlessly that I could hardly determine which artist, if any, had been photoshopped into the frame and took to scrolling through comments in attempt to uncover the authenticity of the meme. However, those who had commented were just as confused.

Noting the Instagram username included at the bottom of the video, I traced the video back to the original source hoping to find more clues regarding credibility. The abundance of comments on the original post directed me to James Corden’s YouTube channel where I found carpool karaoke videos featuring many celebrities including Grande and Carey. As it turns out, Instagram user Saint Hoax had meshed a December 2016 carpool karaoke video of Corden and Carey with an August 2018 carpool karaoke video of Corden and Grande. I was essentially deceived by the skillful editing job as I previously held the belief that Instagram memes were uniformly of lower quality. Looking forward, we should consider the extent to which the increasing accessibility of photoshop could become problematic in regards to edits of less lighthearted content.

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I performed a similar credibility evaluation on a recent news article titled “Meghan McCain’s Eulogy Shows She Is Forged in Her Father’s Image” in which New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers aims to honor John McCain’s legacy by highlighting the tremendous influence he has had on his daughter’s character and career path. Despite its reputation as prominent yet slightly left-leaning, the NYT paints the Republican duo in a rather positive light and expresses support for Ms. McCain’s progressive approach to conservatism which condemns Trump-era Republican politics. The author emphasizes Ms. McCain’s strength, tolerance and frankness in quotes from Joy Behar, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, and Senator Lindsey Graham. As acknowledged in the article, Lieberman and Graham share close ties with the McCain family, so while their proximity and expertise in regards to judging Ms. McCain’s character render them rather credible sources, their independence from the topic at hand should be considered. Similarly, while Behar, who has debated politics with Ms. McCain on “The View,” comes across as a fairly credible reference, it is important to take into account the agree to which circumstance may have influenced her complimentary commentary.

To what extent was the article’s overwhelmingly positive tone a result of the author and sources’ corresponding reluctance to criticize either Mr. McCain or his grieving daughter in the wake of his death? In fact, the article only included one negative comment about Ms. McCain from Republican Ken Cuccinelli who took to Twitter to express his discontent with the political statements voiced in her eulogy. The former attorney general of Virginia wrote, “It’s too bad she can’t participate in a funeral instead of lobbing political hand grenades.” Nevertheless, the NYT counters his argument stating that the anti-Trump sentiment expressed in Ms. McCain’s speech “surely would have delighted her father” who has previously been a victim of the President’s “animosity.”

Comments like these as well as a hyperlink to Ms. McCain’s Instagram post of her father bringing her to the polls at a very young age (featured above) and an excerpt mentioning their shared love for wild game and apple pie work to engage audience members by painting an intimate portrait of a compelling father-daughter relationship. While some audience members may regard aspects of this article including the author’s critical tone regarding Trump a display of favoritism towards a more modern conservative political view, others may agree with the NYT in their decision to predominantly express support and admiration for McCain and his daughter in an article concerning his recent death.

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