Archive for Media
Trump lies the way other people breathe. We’re used to politicians who stretch the truth, who waffle or dissemble, who emphasize some facts while omitting others. But I can’t think of any other political figure who so brazenly tells lie after lie, spraying audiences with such a fusillade of untruths that it is almost impossible to keep track. Perhaps he hopes the media and the nation will become numb to his constant lying. We must not.
Trouble is, it’s not just Trump. Like Billy Pilgrim, American readers have come unstuck from the truth. Human attention span now is less than that of a goldfish. Our capacity to discern truth from lies is about as keen. The Internet and social media are awash in newsy-looking websites featuring thin, unsourced “reportage” of questionable provenance — newsiness. But it’s easily digestible. As Jeff Goldblum said of his character’s job at People Magazine in The Big Chill, “I don’t write anything longer than what the average person can read during the average dump.” That makes web surfers easy prey for Donald Trumps and disinformation traffickers. When a friend shares a “well-researched” article, prepare for a fusillade of “facts” unsupported by a single link or original source reporting. Goldfish don’t check sources.
— Boston Globe Opinion (@GlobeOpinion) April 9, 2016
This morning the Boston Globe offers a glimpse into President Donald Trump’s America with a mocked-up front page illustrating the kind of stories we could expect if Trump were elected president. Stocks plunge, trade wars loom, and “riots continue” over mass deportations.
It’s the blame game this morning as fingers point to who is to blame for the rise of Trump and Trumpism. Eric Boehlert of Hillary-friendly Media Matters examines how the media’s obsession with Donald Trump has yielded millions in free air time for the billionaire:
We seem to have entered unchartered territory where campaign coverage, at least Trump’s campaign coverage, is based on what’s popular (or what makes money for news outlets), and not based on what’s newsworthy. Casting aside decades of precedent, campaign journalism seems to have almost consciously shifted to a for-profit model.
Writing at The Observer, Ryan Holiday suggested a new paradigm is in play this campaign season:
Politicians have always sought to manipulate the public. What’s changed is that media is now not only a willing co-conspirator, they are often the driving force behind the manipulation. No longer seeing itself as responsible for reporting the truth, for getting the facts to the people, it has instead incentivized a scrum, a wild fight for attention in which anything that attracts an audience is fair game. And as long as theirs is the ring where the fight goes down, they’ll happily sell tickets to as many as will come.
Al Jazeera America is going away soon and will be missed. Tony Karon posted a “valedictory note” about the service yesterday. A sample:
The core principle driving the journalism that distinguished Al Jazeera America online as a unique voice in a cluttered news landscape was the simple — yet radical — proposition that no single human life is worth less than any other.
Pope Francis’ speech to Congress is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EDT, shortly after this posts. I hope I’ll be somewhere I can watch it live. I wonder if would-be next president of the United States Donald Trump will be live-tweeting it? He might be too busy practicing being presidential.
Or not. Trump v. Fox News erupted again yesterday:
.@FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2015
Trump’s tweet was a lame attempt at doing The Doors’ Jim Morrison, à la “Hey, man, we just did the Sullivan show.” But he knows how to hit below the belt, right in Roger Ailes’ bottom line. Politico reported yesterday:
Move over oppo researcher. Now that fact checking has been “weaponized” (according to Mark Stencel), you may be out of a job:
Weaponizing fact-checks is just one of many ways politicians use and abuse fact-checking. One positive response is that candidates now vet their own messages, prepare background materials, dedicate staff to answering fact-checkers’ questions—and when called out on a particular comment or line of attack, they often adjust what they say going forward. But politicians also often “stand their ground,” after being told their pants are on fire—particularly when it comes to key strategic messages. Mitt Romney’s repeated attacks on President Obama’s international “apology tour” and the Obama campaign’s relentless focus on Romney’s time at Bain Capital were just two examples from the 2012 election where politicians refused to cower to fact-checkers.
“You just decide the fact-checker is wrong,” one Obama adviser I spoke to said.
But most of the time, people in politics do the opposite: They use fact-checks to validate or reinforce their position—and bloody their opponents. That was the case in nearly every reference to fact-checking I found in House and Senate debates and congressional floor speeches from 2013 and 2014. Of 83 statements (57 from Republicans and 26 from Democrats), only three challenged the fact-checkers’ findings. The rest used the fact-checks to label themselves as truth-tellers or their opponents as liars. But, even when using fact checks to attack a political rival, politicians frequently take a swipe at fact checking itself.
If only the facts counted in politics as something more than confirmation bias. I used to call Iraq Whose War Is It Anyway? – Where Everything’s Made Up and the Facts Don’t Matter.
Stencel prepared a report for the American Press Institute on how fact checking has changed politics. But even as they check ads’ political claims, who fact-checks closing zingers such as “A lying politician, just like Obama”? For an audience that largely doesn’t seem to know the difference between fact and opinion, that’s as much of an issue as how many Pinocchios an ad receives.
“When did fact checking and journalism separate?” the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart once asked NBC News’ Tom Brokaw. No journalist deploys fact-checking to greater effect than Stewart, a comedian.
Stewart just did marvelous take-down of Fox News’ pompous, stuffed shirt, Stuart Varney. Nothing like an arsenal of TiVos for fact checking propagandists:
Never did like that Varney guy. Know what I mean, Vern?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
First comes the disinformation. Next come the wingnut emails.
The city of Baltimore is preparing for a Friday release of details of Freddie Gray’s injury and death in police custody. “Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she’s working with Freddie Gray’s family and faith leaders to clear up ‘misinformation’ that could lead to further unrest.”
The Washington Post on Wednesday evening published an article that states that a unidentified prisoner who was also in the back of a police van with Gray claimed he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” and “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
The prisoner’s tale comes via a police document obtained by the Post, in which the statement is included on an application for a search warrant, which is currently sealed. The prisoner could not actually see Gray, according to the report.
How it plays on Fox: Freddie Gray broke his own back. Coming Up Next: Martin Luther King shot himself.