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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the media has operated as the filter through which information has been disseminated to the masses. The role of the media is often overlooked due to the presupposition of communicative rationality (Bohman and Rehg, 2007) wherein the media acts a neutral medium to transmit information to guide the masses toward the most rational course of action. This has created echo-chambers have formed around liberal and conservative media outlets, leading to widely different responses among liberals and conservative with respect to the guidelines and procedures recommended by public health experts. This research project intervenes into the existing literature on political polarization in the media by positing the polarization to be a result of a failure to understand the media as a communicative medium. Using Jean Baudrillard’s (1995) theory of simulacra and hyperreality, which posit media representations to no longer have reference to an objective reality, this project understands the media to operate through the production of easily consumable narratives which entrench political echo chambers. That begs the questions: what narratives are produced? How are those narratives produced? And what purpose does the production of those narratives serve? This project aims to resolve this questions through a paradigmatic analysis of media texts from outlets across the ideological spectrum. In doing so, I believe Jean Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality will be validated by exemplifying the fragmented nature of the media’s interpretations of reality.



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COVID-19 Media Narratives in the Era of Hyperreality: A Paradigmatic Analysis of Polarized Media Content