Crashing Propaganda: Miami Redux

The standard line, “pirate stations interfere with airplanes,” has been quickly assimilated into the TV news groupthink of Miami. Earlier this month CBS 4 ran a relatively long story on the busting of “Radio Energy,” a Haitian station in North Miami. The actual video report is pretty sick.
Although reporter Ileana Varela explicitly states more than once that the particular station serving as the hook of her story was not alleged to have interfered with anything, Varela kicks off her report with the threat unlicensed stations pose to air traffic communications, something the anchor-banter leading into the story calls “a problem police say is growing and as a result putting the community at risk.” Placement of information is a key element of reportage, especially in a medium as time-constrained and punchy as television news.
Later, Varela cleverly manipulates audio to suggest that viewers are listening to actual pirate radio interference to aircraft communications. At approximately 2:10 into the story, underneath Variela’s narration, you hear the typical clipped two-way radio dialogue of an air traffic control channel, while b-roll of a plane landing at MIA rolls on-screen. After she references an incident from earlier this spring involving a pirate station and aircraft communications, the background sound is brought to the fore and switches to hip-hop music, as played through a tinny speaker – as how Variela imagines FM-related interference to an aircraft communication channel might sound.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says of the nine stations they’ve busted so far under Florida’s anti-pirate statute, two are alleged to have interfered with non-broadcast radio channels.