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.
As 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.
No, 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?
And 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.