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What happened to our media?

I was thinking about the short piece I wrote yesterday about the media, which considers itself somehow the guardian of the truth, being flogged, jerked around, and trolled by the President, while the real, consequential stories and facts fall by the wayside, as the journalists trip all over themselves to be the first to prove the President wrong, to expose wrongdoing, and to advance the narrative. There have been quite a few comments that “just the facts” reporting hasn’t existed for a long time, and has been replaced with spin, “analysis” masquerading as journalism, and outright lies and obfuscation.

What happened to our media? Was there any point at which we could honestly look at journalism and hold it up as a bastion of objectivity? Probably not for a long time, if ever. Journalists are people, and just like any person have their own views on politics. Additionally, as Ted Galen Carpenter pointed out in “The Captive Press,” (really good book, by the way, that I had to read when I was working on my Master’s degree) there’s also the matter of being threatened by those in power, wanting that “exclusive,” the desire for access, and being part of the “team,” which often acts as enticement for the media to publish what those in power want and putting a spin on the news in order to lick the boots of their masters.

At the same time, the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, the Internet, and global media access is driving competition among outlets to be first, to garner the most views, and to do so by tapping into the collective outrage of the masses, who by and large have access to mass amounts of information around the clock, and who many times are too lazy to verify before they screech. Yes, the media outlets need to tap into that in order to stay competitive in today’s market.

critical-thinking-cartoonAs someone commented recently, this could be attributed to a decline in our education system. Kids are coming out of schools without the ability to research, reason, or critically think about the information they’re fed. I can’t tell you how appalled I am at some of the more junior writers I’ve seen, who cannot even process information critically, but rely on opinion journalism as a primary source (not that they even know what a primary source is!), because it’s quick, easy, and strokes their confirmation biases like a cheap Thai whore.

On the other side, we have the bloggers. Stoked by their successes in trumping the mainstream media from as far back as 2004, when guys in their “living rooms writing in their pajamas” exposed the asshattery of CBS and its false documents about George W. Bush’s military service, much to the consternation of snotty CBS execs, the bloggers have become a vital part of the information superhighway and the search for the truth. I doubt the discovery of the government’s failure in the “Fast and Furious” operation would have happened without the efforts of my fellow gun rights blogger David Codrea and the late Mike Vanderbaugh. Say what you want about bloggers not being “real” journalists, but they’ve contributed to the efforts to hold government officials accountable. And if you doubt me, look up Alexei Navalny. He was just a blogger too.

The problem with the bloggers is similar to the problem with the media. They want clicks. They all want to be another David Codrea. They all want to be another PJ Media. And as such, they need to stand out and gain readership. They forget how much research and effort it took for Codrea and Vanderbaugh to gain traction with their “gunwalking” story. They probably don’t realize that these guys approached this story with a healthy amount of skepticism, not desperation to advance the narrative.

“I think that within the first week things started to really come together. We were getting corroboration, and we were getting different people talking to us,” Codrea said. Vanderboegh and Codrea had cultivated relationships with ATF agents over the years, having gained a reputation within the community for covering ATF scandal stories.

Codrea said he was skeptical about what his sources at the ATF were sharing. “I still was not sure that there couldn’t be disinformation involved,” Codrea said. “If you come out with something that makes you look like an idiot, your reputation is going to be destroyed. You’re not going to put your credibility out there and have it shredded. So you do your best due diligence.”

That due diligence exists very rarely nowadays. (Note: I’m going to focus on mostly conservative-leaning sites here, but that doesn’t excuse sites like the Daily Kos, Occupy Democrats, Politicus, Addicting Info, and other purveyors of half truths, stupidity, and outright buffonery.)

Consider actor George Takei’s hysterical tweet about the removal of the Obama White House website pages about climate change, LGBT issues, health care, etc., which was quickly picked up by his huge online following full of heartache and angst about how Trump is a horrible person who removed all “progress” over the past eight years! As PolitiFact pointed out, Uncle George, while technically correct, failed to provide additional context to his followers, and morons happy to have their confirmation bias stroked about what a horrible person Trump is, ran with it.

But it’s important to keep in mind that when the Obama administration handed the whitehouse.gov domain to Trump’s team, it was a blank slate. All of the online content published during Obama’s term was purged and archived. They’re now available on a website set up by the National Archives, as was done at the end of the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Did George Takei have an agenda? Indubitably. Did he intentionally ignore context in order to foment frothing hatred among his followers, or was he merely negligent? Who knows? But sites such as diversityinc.com, queerty, and pinknews were only too happy to promote the “homophobic Trump” narrative, ignoring the fact that Trump – for all his other faults – is the only president who took office as being on the record as supporting gay marriage and the only one of the entire GOP primary field who proudly stated in April 2016 that transgender people should be able to use whatever bathrooms they see fit.

On the conservative side, I had to smack down folks who clutched their pearls at this report by some outfit called militaryoneclick, that claimed “OH NOEZ! MILITARY FAMILY SUPPORT PAGE IS GONE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE!”

Yeah, OK imbeciles. See above.

Some site called Liberty Hangout, recently crowed that there’s been a bill submitted to withdraw the United States from the United Nations. Conservatives are elated! Gatewaypundit shat itself in Trump-induced euphoria!

The Republicans are wasting no time helping President Donald Trump deliver on his promises that he made will campaigning to be President of the United States.

Recently a bill was introduced by Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers called the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017 which is in response to his call earlier this month for the United States to sever all ties ties from the United Nations.

unNo, this bill has little to nothing to do with Trump.  The American Sovereignty Restoration Act is nothing new. It was introduced by Ron Paul every damn year as HR1146 between 1997 and 2012, and then by Paul Braun once in 2013, and now for the second time in a row by Rodgers. This has nothing to do with Trump. It’s not meant to help him in any way. This effort has been going on for 20 fucking years now with zero results, but now it’s news because TRUMP! Give me a goddamn break!

Is it a lack of research? Is it laziness? Is it intentional? I can’t tell you about motivations, but I can tell you it’s part of what is driving this “fake news” narrative. Now, I said “part of what is driving this narrative,” so I don’t want to see the immediate knee-jerkiness into “Well, CNN…! Well lamestream media…!”

No. We will hold our own as accountable as we hold the lamestream media you all so revile. More so.

But back to the subject at hand.

I’ve previously mentioned Breitbart’s lunatic article that falsely screamed, “PRESIDENT OBAMA AWARDS HIMSELF DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL!” That one caused me to slap down several friends who should have known better for their stupidity.

The Distinguished Public Service Medal is not given by the President. It’s given by the Secretary of Defense. There’s no basis to assess that Obama somehow ordered Ash Carter to give him a medal, other than the right’s deranged hatred of the current POTUS. A little bit of research would have also revealed that two Presidents in recent times have received the Distinguished Public Service Medal: George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, both awarded toward the end of their presidencies. Is Trumpbart really going to claim that Bush and Clinton both ordered their respective SECDEFs to award them medals? Or does that dubious honor only apply to Democrats? Apparently the rights’ disdainboner only gets turgid for Democrats – to such a degree, that publishing obviously misleading information is not frowned upon.

Obviously false and misleading headline, but how many went running for their outrage buttons and pounded their little indignation out on their keyboards? They got the clicks they wanted, didn’t they?

What about the alleged “assassination attempt” against Trump in early November? Remember that?

Trump was rushed off the stage, because a disturbance broke out. You know what numerous sub-morons in some “media” outlets reported? An assassination attempt.

You know what the Trump campaign immediately touted, because its candidate is oh-so-victimized, and subsequently oh-so-courageous to get right back in the game? An assassination attempt.

You know what it really was? Some guy with a sign that said, “REPUBLICANS AGAINST TRUMP.”

Got you to click, though, didn’t it?

secret-serviceAnd then there are these retards.

Recently, Secret Service agent Kerry O’Grady suggested in her social media postings (hello, stupid!) that she wouldn’t take a bullet for President Trump. O’Grady in October posted that she would rather go to jail than take a bullet for Trump, who she claimed would be a disaster for this country. O’Grady works in Denver, and part of her job is to coordinate presidential visits to the area. Chances are she would have very few opportunities to “take a bullet” for Trump anyway. But more importantly, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, she explained why she removed the pre-election posts, although she only did so after complaints were lodged to her supervisors.

“It was an internal struggle for me but as soon as I put it up, I thought it was not the sentiment that I needed to share because I care very deeply about the mission,” she said.

O’Grady repeatedly stressed that she would in no way shirk her duties to protect the president because of her opposition to Trump’s candidacy and support for Clinton.

“No, not at all. I firmly believe in this job. I’m proud to do it and we serve the office of the president,” she said.

The reasons and the timing aside, is Trump really in danger? Come the fuck on, people! The worst that will happen is that she will not be allowed anywhere near the president, and she’s not part of his protective detail anyway, so what gives? Ah! Clickbait!

These sites are riding on the success of sites such as PJ Media and others, hoping to capitalize on what those who do it better and cleaner than they do have already done. I don’t even consider them media. Most people I know look at them as “alternative media.” Alternative to what? Good reporting? Accuracy? Objectivity? These sites are no different, and no better than their counterparts on the other side of the political aisle. Those who complain about the “lamestream media” spinning and lying, fail to recognize the same problems on outlets with which they agree.

Freedom of the press also means freedom to publish shit like the above. Freedom comes with its warts, but we need to protect it at all costs.

So after putting my scattered thoughts down in writing, I have come to the conclusion that the only thing for audiences to do is to stop being lazy, ignorant, uninformed cretins and read.

Read primary sources. Do research. Take every single report with a grain of salt, and find sources that will corroborate the published or broadcast claims. Opinion journalism has made a lot of people wealthy and well-known very quickly, so there’s no incentive for them to change. That means every one of us has a responsibility to ourselves to get informed and do our own research.

Bottom line: we can’t trust the media.

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18 responses

  1. Good job, Nicki, It’s almost like you went down a list of things that have concerned me greatly for a number of years. And at the top of my list would be your conclusion: “…we can’t trust the media.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One problem most of us have is not having enough time to go dig up primary sources. That’s why having professional media was so important. Now that the media has thrown their reputations in the trash most people don’t know where to turn for actual useful information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realize most of us are time limited, but if we’re going to be informed, we NEED to make time. And we need to stop sharing garbage on social media.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Many if not most people see something on farcebook or twatter that sounds good or is something they agree with and just automatically share/retweet.
        I know I have done it- still do it sometimes.
        Better to not share most posts/tweets unless you know and trust the source.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m so sick of it, I’m starting to yell at people I consider friends.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. None of these current keypunchers were even eggs when the Watergate hearings were underway. If it had not been for the diligence of Woodward and Bernstein, the Watergate hearings would never have happened. In the summer of 1974, that was all there was on television. The break-ins at the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington produced cliched ‘something – gate’, and not one of this current crop of boring, mindless, me-first little twits has a clue what it really means.

    None of these narcississtic smartasses has a clue how to go about getting real information. I’m becoming more and more convinced that they have never been punished for lying, either, and think it’s okay to make shit up, just to get it on the internet and get – yes, clickies!!!

    Back in Them There Olden Times, when journalism was inhabited by people with working brains, there were frontline reporters like Ernie Pyle, who followed the Marines to Iwo Jima and was so shaken by that battle that he had to take a break from it. But he went back to it, to get the war story home to the US and was killed by a Japanese machine gun bullet at Ie Shima in April, 1945.

    Walter Cronkite was labeled the most trusted man in America. He was the journalist who brought us the full story of the Berlin Airlift in the evenings on CBS, after WWII was long over. He was the man who announced the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and had a bitter, bitter moment in front of the camera when he read that announcement. And then he went to Vietnam, came back to the USA to report on that war, and lied his ass off about it. He admitted to that later on.

    The evening news team of Huntley and Brinkley shaped news reporting for the electronic media.

    And if I’m going to discuss reporters, I should mention Louella Parsons and her rival in the gossip industry, Hedda Hopper, two Hollywood gossip hens who had inside advantage to what was going on in La-La-Land and reported on it. Yes, Hollywood was mostly trash, but that’s Hollywood for you. At least, those two hens didn’t make shit up just to get attention. They had reliable sources.

    This bunch of morons pretending to be reporters, as I said, seem to never have been punished for lying, so they think it’s fine to make shit up. That’s all they do. They don’t even have the articulate presence of their predecessors who, except for Uncle Walter, didn’t have to make shit up. They are barely subliterate, dumber than a porcupine in a bag of marshmallows, and if they have a god, it is Ignorance Personified.

    You are absolutely right when you say it’s all about click-bait, because nothing else matters to them. Do whatever it takes to get that, and you’re on top, waving the flag that says, in no uncertain terms, “I’M AN ATTENTION WHORE!!” They aren’t even as half-assed accurate as the tabloids at the checkout stand at the grocery store.

    The internet has its benefits and its detriments. She who screeches the loudest wins the booby prize! And the worse you can make it, the more clickies you get. Then the rest of us have to sort through their useless shit, trying to get to the bottom of the barrel and throw out all the rotten apples along the way, until we find the real story that started the mess, and realize that it was just bullshit.

    Well, happy trails to them. If they wonder why people like me are somewhat nostalgic for the Good Old Days, it’s because these imbeciles with tablets and internet access can’t be trusted, just like that bimbo Seekrit Squirrel O’Grady, who should have been fired on the spot for running her silly bitch mouth.

    At some point, this will change and real reporting will displace the idiots whose names will be forgotten because – well, who cares what they think? It will come to an end when they get bored because no one is looking at their crap, or because they get fired from a job for posting their shit online about how much they hate their jobs… because they can’t be trusted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sara, I agree, that at some point, it will change, and real reporting will displace the idiots whose only job is to give their opinion of what is going on, or what they want us to think about what is going on. And whatever network or outlet fills that void first will reap enormous profits and prestige, because there is a hunger for just such a truthful journalist or group of journalists. The fact is, that even though we remember a Walter Chronkite or Chet and David, Howard K Smith, et al, they didn’t bring their shows to the people at night all by themselves. They had many people working in the field digging for the stories and doing the legwork to deliver the news to them, so that they could read it to the public each night. The Dan Rathers and others came up the ladder from there. At one time, CBS news was not Rather biased. I know that there are still some idealistic men and women out there who want to do the real work of digging into the hard news, if they know that it will actually have a chance of making it to the American people unfiltered by a left or right bias. I may be naive or idealistic, by I never give up hope for the people of our country. The leaders may come and go, but the people are what can keep us headed right, if we allow them to. And there are still some journalists who I trust, not to allow themselves to be used, even if they have a bias. Let us hope that the trend is towards simple reporting of the news, instead of inserting opinions, or even worse, inserting themselves into the news.

      Like

  4. As I told a friend who posted that UN Exit bill…that thing is probably the most plain spoken easy to understand, no confusion at all about what they’re saying bill I’ve read in a while. Also if it were ever to get through…this would probably be the time.

    Like

    1. It’s got six co-sponsors. It will never leave committee.

      Like

  5. “….which considers itself somehow the guardian of the truth, being flogged, jerked around, and trolled by the President, while the real, consequential stories and facts fall by the wayside”

    I didn’t used to think there was a problem with the media. I thought the highest ranked stories were a reflection of the readers preferences, coupled with decent investigative journalism. Then I learned the difference between the political leanings of MSNBC, Fox news, and those in between. Today, I take the media with a grain of salt. If the Trump election showed us anything, it’s that for all of their blustering, predictions, analyses, and polls, it did not present the real picture.

    When I look at the photo now of the presidential inauguration (as compared with Obama’s inauguration) looking so empty, I can’t help but wonder if it’s taken out of context somehow, such as if they took that picture at 6:00 in the morning when things were just getting set up. This gigapixel photo, for instance, shows a very robust inauguration filled all the way to the monument: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/trump-inauguration-gigapixel/

    I went to the local papers several years ago with a story I wanted to tell them of a disabled female veteran student who had gotten kicked out of university by a disgruntled Muslim professor just months after being certified with a disability and submitting notification to the school. The three papers were–the main “reputable” rag, the liberal News & Review free publication, and the university publication. The main newspaper–which regularly ran stories of little major consequence such as the yield on a local farmer’s crops this season or a city park bond measure–declined to cover the story, unless, they said, there was a lawsuit involved (the student was not able to afford the lawyers/lawsuit, which ran over $100,000). The News & Review showed even less interest, stating they would think about it, and never getting back. The university newspaper initially showed some interest and gathered all pertinent details, then just before printing dropped the story and did not respond to emails.

    Mine was only one story, but I wondered if this one story went unreported, how many others were there out there? And how trustworthy was the media, really? I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a major grassroots closet of sentiment that runs in opposition to what we see expressed in most news coverage.

    Like

    1. If that’s the same gigapixel I’ve seen time and time again, it’s really quite useless for making conclusions about the crowd going all the way to the monument, and even though I am basically sympathetic to Trump, I am SICK AND TIRED of people waving this around as if it meant something. I’ll explain what I am about to explain to you, to them, and some other asshat will say “but you didn’t see the gigapixel!!!” AAARGH!!! “A is not valid evidence, because…” “But you didn’t see A!!!” *Forehead to computer screen.*

      The Washington monument is half a mile away from where the picture was taken, and they are maybe 50 feet off ground level. That’s a really oblique angle, and there is some sort of temporary structure blocking the view to the base of the monument. It could be either empty or full past that structure. Even with the structure not there, you simply cannot judge the size of a crowd at that kind of distance at an angle of less than half a degree off horizontal (fifty feet above ground from 7500 feet away is 0.382 degrees; if someone can do the same calculation with truly accurate numbers (arctan(height/distance)) that can be modified, but likely not by much).

      People in front will completely obscure what’s behind them, be it more people, or a big empty space, at an angle like that, for the same reason you have a shadow as long as king kong is tall near sunset.

      There’s a reason that weathermen, looking at the local cloud cover, are told to only look at the part of the sky directly overhead. Even one cloud every ten miles will look overcast, near the horizon.

      That having been said, I do think the overhead shots from the Washington monument are more than likely mismatched times. (The overhead from the Trump inaugural apparently shows 1:15 on the Smithsonian tower if you blow it up enough, but Smithsonian says their clock is broken.)

      The fact is we have no good solid photographic evidence what the inaugural crowd looked like near the Washington Monument at noon, unless it can be demonstrated that that overhead was NOT taken at 9AM–in which case the crowd was small.

      Like

      1. But by the same token, Steve, it should at least illustrate what media spin can do. I saw many pictures float across the internet as to the turnout for Trump’s inauguration vs. Obama’s inauguration, and I didn’t see the relevance. It almost seemed like the media or someone wanted us to care about the turnout. It changes nothing. He’s in office. The fact that he even won the election is proof enough that he has sufficient popularity.

        Like

        1. Sure.

          But someone chose to make an issue of it.

          Then the media threw up evidence which is probably bad.

          Then Trump’s side *insisted* on adserting that physical attendance was higher than Obolas… rather than simply making the points you just made. In the absence of any real evidence. That IMHO was the screwup, and Team Trump and famboys insist on doubling down on it and citing worthless evidence.

          Both sides are playong a spon game here, not just the media.

          Like

    2. I stayed up to watch the inauguration (it was past midnight in my end of the world) and the news people were the ones who started the ‘there aren’t as many people here as during Obama’s inauguration’ ‘truism.’ I shrugged it off, even as they kept running the same early image, ignoring that there were people actively trying to prevent folks from getting to the security checkpoints. Keeping that in mind, the crowds arriving would have been slowed to a trickle, but it was very clear that the media was the first to raise the banner of “See! SEE?! THIS PROVES SOMETHING! THAT THERE IS NO SUPPORT FOR TRUMP” while at the same time lavishing attention at the crowds of people protesting against him. All throughout they claimed that there were so much more people at Obama’s inauguration, repeating the images that had been recorded hours earlier – just long enough to ‘prove’ their point.

      Later they – inevitably – panned over the crowd at the inauguration, and it’s the same as the gigapixel image.

      I laughed and shrugged; it wasn’t as if they were going to be in any way impartial to Trump anyway, and were only proving to those that paid attention that there was no way we are going to trust anything they said if it remotely involved Trump or his presidency or policies.

      Like

  6. The other day, something I wrote wound up on Instapundit. I perused the Instapundit comments out of curiosity, and found a gent there who said that he liked my blog and followed it regularly, because it was low on bullshit. Another guy replied to that gentleman with: “I feel sorry for you if you read BLOGS.”

    They went back and forth for a time, but this guy genuinely believed that every blog was garbage, was the second coming of the Prince of Lies, and nobody who did independent research was worth a damn, and we should all just go back to watching CNN because they’re much more reliable.

    What’s worse is… the guy was ostensibly a conservative. He ought to know better, at least regarding the mainstream media, which has been full of shit for at least as long as I’ve been alive.

    None of this is to say we should let bloggers off the hook when they fuck up and peddle bullshit. I agree with you, Nicki, that we need to hold our own side accountable. But goddamn, some people out there are so dense. The mainstream media comes out with lie after lie, bending people over, and this dude was saying “yes, please, I’d like some more!”

    Whatever happened to Trust but Verify? It applies as much to a blogger as a mainstream journalist. Words to live by.

    Like

  7. “The worst that will happen is that she will not be allowed anywhere near the president, and she’s not part of his protective detail anyway, so what gives?”

    What Nicki refuses to admit is that this woman is the tip of the Leftist Bureaucratic iceberg that has been working for the Democrats for 50 years to undermine the rule of law and America. She feels bold enough to openly threaten not to do her job; how many others are there just like her only a little more subtle?

    Like

    1. I haven’t refused to admit anything. Many of these people have worked for multiple administrations and have served honorably. And by the way, she’s been suspended and has admitted it was wrong. So again, how is Trump in danger? Oh, yeah. He’s not.

      Like

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