Regular Contributor Brad Slager
Yes, the press is currently horrible. Cagey news consumers have become improved as a result.
For all the hand wringing and furrowed brows we see in the media over “fake news,” there was a lightly regarded article on the subject from April of last year that is deeply interesting. There are a couple of reasons it was bypassed by the talking heads in the press, first being it was from the BBC. Secondly, it was a true narrative-buster, in that the Brits dared to point out that on the faux reporting front there is plenty found of the anti-Trump variety.
Snopes, that favored debunker of media myths, announced then that they had actually been busied with exposing more fake stories about Republicans than those that were anti-Democrat. Further disrupting the notion that “stupid MAGA-hatters” are the ones duped by the fakery, one expert asked to study the issue of false reports on social media found the opposite in effect. “The stereotypes of it being simply right-wing and simply uneducated are 100% not true."
Their company conducted a social media experiment. It fed false news stories geared to towards left-wing and right-wing mindsets, and then studied the reactions on both sides. “On the left if you're consuming fake news you're 34 times more likely than the general population to be a college graduate,” said the director of the study. So fake stories about the president actually get traction with liberals? Huh, we were told that never happens.
Well, this would mean that the president’s accusations about the news networks could actually be correct! So of course that report needs to be driven out to the wilderness and left by the side of the road in unwanted-pet-fashion. And, of course, this avoidance actually proves things out in the process.
What has been curious/sad/hilarious (circle all that apply) is that almost any charge or accusation being made by the pundits on this particular matter is something they are actually guilty of themselves. They call the veracity of certain stories into question, while belching out fake content. They charge that certain outlets are unreliable, as they discredit themselves in the same breath. And while condescending that the audience does not always know better, they fall prey to the very gullibility they describe.
CNN - long a dubious source of veracity - has spiraled down to the level of self-parody in the brief Trump era. Recent weeks have seen the outlet proffering items intended as serious journalism that would embarrass a stringer from Grit. They have speculated on the “disappearance” of the First Lady (recovering from surgery, and spotted by other journalists in the White House), they claimed the president described immigrants in general as “animals” (he was specifically referring to gang members), and news “analyst” Brian Stelter just got stung repeating a charge from Rachel Maddow the White House manipulated transcripts of the press meeting with Vladamir Putin (this had quickly been corrected by The Washington Post, and amusingly by Stelter’s own network).
That there is a fair amount of projection in play is obvious. They rail against the specter of false stories, but feel perfectly justified in delivering any fake or unverified stories, so long as those are damaging to the president. As a prime example of how unconcerned they are with imaging, currently the network is blasting the story of Trump receiving a World Cup soccer ball from Putin that had a computer chip imbedded within. The manufacturer Adidas uses this technology for in-game metrics, but if they can make ANY tie to Russia and conspiracy, run with it!
As a conservative, and tangentially in the media industry, I am well attuned to the manipulations made by the news outlets in the name of The Narrative. It used to be the phrase “the newsmakers” was applied to those being reported upon, but as we now know today that accurately describes the journalists who create the talking points. As such I know that relying upon a lone source for details on a story is folly. I endeavor to flesh out more about a specific item in the cycle. This has become necessary, but it has also made me a better consumer, and better commentator.
Conditioned as we have become to protect our viewpoints by getting the complete picture ultimately leads to us being vastly better prepared as citizens. Wading into the sceptic minefield that is social media is easily survived as a result of this comprehensive consumption. And being a well-informed citizen brings about a curious irony; those delivering the news to us feel threatened that we dare seek out multiple outlets for perspective.
The biggest reason outlets like CNN recoil at “alternative” sources is that it dilutes their messaging. Becoming something other than the primary source for a story means they lose the power to craft it, and power is sapped. So attacking the alternatives becomes the norm, and working to have those varied sources degraded in quality and then expunged from social media is needed. And as the BBC study shows, the well-heeled on the left feel they possess the monopoly on proper political thought; our obtaining defined knowledge on issues threatens that stature.
So they work to change algorithms to marginalize certain outlets, and even go so far to ostracise others from the platforms. Again, the mentality here is that people on social media are too stupid to realize they are being duped. They need the leaders at FaceBook and Twitter, as well as the news “experts” at CNN, to guide them and coach their consumption.
Which makes it hilariously revealing when those same experts fall prey to the very scourge they warn about. It has been with great amusement that we have watched various members of the media get bent out of shape by a video from Allie Beth Stuckey, at CRTV. She posted a clearly satirical interview with Democrat “It Girl” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, using footage from her disastrous Frontline appearance. And the press lost their minds over it.
Tweets, articles, op-ed columns and other accusatory reports came from actual journalists who either claimed outrage at the temerity of her falsifying an “interview,” or better still, claimed they were fooled by the obvious gag. (Stuckey even designated she *grills* Ocasio-Cortez in her original post.) That they were so bothered speaks volumes.
If the best way to anger the Devil is to mock him, then this reaction in the press explains it all in waging the battle against their narrative. Using their style to ridicule a candidate they have warmly embraced is beyond the pale for them. That they resort to claiming this was a falsification, or intended to deceive viewers, is their wan attempt at “othering” Stuckey. She was effective, so she needs to be ostracized by their decree.
Our ability to gather information on our own these days is key to getting these results. As long as we continue to arm ourselves with the facts we are essentially using their own ammunition. That their professional sloth and social avarice drives us to other outlets to obtain those bullets is all the more hilarious.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.