Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Who Has Been Reporting Fake News?

After eight years of being told that Barack Obama can do no wrong, Americans are waking up to “fake news.” Huh?

After eight years of living in a media-created bubble many citizens just discovered that the world had passed them by, that they did not know what was happening and that they had missed the biggest political story of our time.

Led by the New York Times, the media missed the Trump story. The issue was not whether the opinion page writers were for or against Trump. The issue was that the paper was slanting new coverage to influence opinion. The media was telling its readers what to think, and not even bothering to hide the fact.

Its readers discovered that once the bubble burst they were lost in the real world. They lacked the information and the news analysis that would have helped them to make sense of the Trump phenomena. Some were appalled at the Times for having let them down, for having deprived them of information and for leaving them with nothing but raw emotion. Others resorted to the only skill that the media taught them. They let fly with a blizzard of bigot shaming.

Those who felt betrayed by the Times  let the public editor, Liz Spayd  hear about it. She wrote this:

… from my conversations with readers, and from the emails that have come into my office, I can tell you there is a searing level of dissatisfaction out there with many aspects of the coverage.

Readers complain heatedly and repeatedly about the forecasting odometer from The Upshot that was anchored on the home page and predicted that Hillary Clinton had an 80 percent chance or better of winning. They complain that The Times’s attempt to tap the sentiments of Trump supporters was lacking. And they complain about the liberal tint The Times applies to its coverage, without awareness that it does.

Horst Gudemann of Jackson, Wyo., says he doesn’t want to be spoon-fed opinions that The Times thinks he should have, and he doesn’t want his primary news source to stereotype half the country as racists.

Since many Times reporters live in their own bubble, they are blind to their own group think.

Spayd describes it:

That left many of the readers I spoke with feeling like The Times was a swirl of like-mindedness. 

The editor and publisher of the Times did try to explain themselves, but their efforts, mixed with an air of self-congratulation, did not go down well.

Providing accurate information is a newspaper’s reason for being. If it purposefully skews the facts in order to tell people what to think, it is abrogating its responsibility and manipulating the minds of its readers.

Spayd reports:

Chavi Eve Karkowsky, an obstetrician in New York City, saw the letter through the lens of her own profession. “In medicine when something goes wrong, we ask: ‘Where did we get this information? Why? What should we do differently?’ We break it down to its very basic level,” she said. Karkowsky would have preferred a real apology, she said, and some sense that The Times was looking inward.

Many of those who were most torqued about the issue were themselves liberals. Lacking any sense of how the rest of the nation was seeing things, they had found themselves incapable of understanding what was going on, and thus, prey to their emotions and their anxiety. And they were angry at the Times:

I found myself wishing someone from the newsroom was on the line with me, especially to hear how many of the more liberal voters wanted more balanced coverage. Not an echo chamber of liberal intellectualism, but an honest reflection of reality.

Of course, the paper and many other news outlets have been lying to their readers for eight years now. They have been passing off “fake news” as reality. They repeat all of the lies that Obama has been telling as gospel truth. The people who are upset about the Times coverage have gotten a wake-up call. Their disappointment ought to extend far beyond the coverage of the last election campaign.

Take an obvious example. When the Obama administration came into power the government of Iran was an international pariah. It was a member of the axis of evil; it was a state sponsor of terrorism; its Jew-hatred and threats against Israel were considered to be beyond the pale; it had been subjected to crippling sanctions.

Now, thanks to Obama policies, the government of Iran will have the right eventually to develop a nuclear weapon. It has been allowed to test ballistic missiles that can send those weapons to Tel Aviv. Its influence extends through Iraq into Syria. It no longer has to worry about sanctions, because it has been recognized as legitimate by the United States. And it has just received hundreds of millions of dollars in cash. It will use the money to fund Hamas and to help it to kill Jews in Israel.

In addition, Obama has conspicuously and publicly showed his contempt for one world leader: the prime minister of the Jewish state. He has welcomed notable anti-Semites like Al Sharpton and the Black Lives Matter organizers to the White House. He has been supported by Jew haters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Rev. Louis Farrakhan. As anti-Semitism and Jew hatred was taking over college campuses, the White House (and the mainstream media) has turned a blind eye to it. Considering that its own actions have contributed to the hatred, it could not very well do otherwise.

For eight years, we were not reading about anti-Semitism in the mainstream media. Now, because of something that Steve Bannon might or might not have said, the media elites have just discovered anti-Semitism. How can anyone take them seriously at all?

Of course, the president has lied over and over again. The press is trying to fight a war against racism and it seems to believe that calling out a black president on his lies is racist. Purifying the American soul of its sins seems more important than reporting the facts and providing good information. The press created a bubble to protect its favorite president and to create the world that corresponded to its ideals.

As for Obama’s lies, we can repeat, yet again, the lies about keeping your doctor and your insurance plan. It does not stop there. Yesterday on the Wall Street Journal site, James Taranto examined some of Obama’s most recent lies, lies that the media will allow to pass unquestioned. One noted, with chagrin, that Obama recommended that Trump be able to confront Putin... just as Obama himself did.

In truth, Obama never confronted Putin over anything. He has allowed Putin to do as he pleases, without fear of any reprisal or even pushback.

Here is another lie, with Taranto’s comments:

In Lima on Sunday the president himself declared: “I am extremely proud of the fact that over eight years we have not had the kinds of scandals that have plagued other administrations.” That’s either delusional or very carefully worded: To our knowledge no other administration has used the IRS to punish ordinary citizens for dissent, nor faced FBI findings that the secretary of state treated classified information in an “extremely careless” fashion.

As for the charge that Americans are being influenced by “fake news,” as opposed to the supposedly real news reported by the New York Times, Taranto says:

Also in Lima, the president complained of “elections that aren’t focused on issues and are full of fake news and false information and distractions.” That’s the latest left-liberal excuse; a Sunday New York Times editorial was titled “Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News”—which is awfully rich coming from the editorial board that blamed the massacres in both Tucson and Orlando on conservatives, and from the paper that in 2008 called self-described “fake news anchor” Jon Stewart “the most trusted man in America.”

And of course, the lies about climate change and the environment are passed off as settled science—this despite the fact that any good scientist will tell you that there is no such thing as settled science. And despite the fact that the man who headed the climate science laboratory at MIT has often pointed out that the science is inconclusive.

Taranto writes:

In his comments over the past week, Obama has sounded some of the same themes we discussed back in 2013. He told Remnick: “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us.” The 2009 revelations from the East Anglia emails that scientists had manipulated data and abused the peer-review process? 

So called journalists have been covering for Barack Obama for eight years. They have been fabricating stories and skewing facts. They have functioned more like idolaters than journalists. Perhaps it’s catching up with them. Time will tell.

Here is Taranto on David Remnick’s idolatry:

Remnick himself described the Obama presidency as “two terms long on dignity and short on scandal.” The IRS? The State Department scandal that arguably sank Mrs. Clinton’s campaign? 

Anyone who thinks that the New York Times and the New Yorker are providing them with useful information woke up on the morning of November 9 to discover that all of their assumptions, all of the facts about the Obama presidency and the recent election campaign were lies. They discovered that they had been living in a bubble, in a fairy tale, in a fictional world that was crashing down around them.

They are rightly distraught, not so much because of the incoming Trump administration—though one might certainly have reason to disagree with some of what it is doing—but with the fact that they have been led by the Pied Pipers of the press over a cliff into a slough of ignorance.

In the absence of good information they can do no better than to rail at the moon. And they do not like it. They should not like it. But, they should recognize that if they are woefully uninformed and thus unable to take up serious intellectual arms, the fault does not lie with Donald Trump.

21 comments:

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Brings me back to SNL's "The Bubble."

Funny how Obama is waking up to "fake news" when it suits him.

Meanwhile, in other news, our dear friends in California are channeling some confederate energy. They want to secede!

Of course, in California's public schools, secession is a new word.

Marcus Ruiz Evans delivered his petition for the 2018 state ballot intitiative. His quote on the issue was pure gold:

“We’re doing it now because of all of the overwhelming attention,” Evans said.

Wow. For all the attention. Sounds deep, dude.

Let them go. Democrats are close to a supermajority in the legislature. It can be a new liberal control group in the Americas. A toy for them to play with and destroy. Perhaps Justice Ginsburg will be able to retire there and fulfill her pledge.

And that's not "fake news."

Sam L. said...

It is not JUST 8 years; much longer. Does the name Walter Duranty ring a bell? (Hope, joy, sweetness, and light in Soviet Russia. No NKVD, no gulags, everybody's with the PROGRAM.)

Ares may wish to chime in on this, with his magic gonger.

Trigger Warning said...

The history of the media is filled with fake (no scare quotes) news. From the lionization of murderous thugs like Billy the Kid by cowardly, bespectacled scribblers, to the yellow journalism of Pulitzer (in the bag for the Democratic Party) and Hearst, to outright lying about Stalin by the NYT and Duranty, to the reporting on the Tet Offensive, to "exploding" pickup trucks on TV "news", to faked memos and Dan Rather, to edited 911 tape designed to demonize and destroy George Zimmerman, the media have a reputation for outright lying. And that miserable record fails to account for the long list of plagarists, fabulists, and even criminals like David Gregory.

Why anyone pays attention to their ridiculous, flimsy agitprop is beyond my understanding.

Trigger Warning said...

Oh, and lest we forget... the faked, photoshopped "dead kid" imagery coming out of Pallywood and the leftist French press.

AesopFan said...

Same topic, different angle.

http://libertyunyielding.com/2016/11/20/brilliant-fake-news-theme-fake-news/

Anonymous said...

The customers of the NY Times got exactly what they wanted. If they are dissatisfied, they have only themselves to blame.

Ares Olympus said...

Evaluating "fake news" certainly looks like a problem, now that that cat has been let out of the bag, and social media potentially makes Trump's 400lb man sitting on his bed an equal fact-checker to a 100 year old newspaper with hundreds of staff members.

And then the website snopes points out that its not just "fake news" clickbait, but "bad news", pure spin propaganda from whatever side, and that's always existed, but now social media allows it to spread quickly as mass-outrage encourages every home team to make sure everyone knows how bad the other side is.
http://www.snopes.com/2016/11/17/we-have-a-bad-news-problem-not-a-fake-news-problem/

I saw this article recently, although from 2013, showing the decline of newspaper revenue, from $65 billion in 2000 to $20 billion by 2013. So however much advertiser dollars were influencing the content of journalists, they now have 1/3 of the money to compete with near-free online media where hyped partisan headlines allows each echo chamber to reinforce their own views.
http://www.aei.org/publication/chart-of-the-day-newspaper-advertising-revenue-will-likely-continue-its-decade-long-free-fall-to-below-1950-levels/

And even ordinary news sources have their sneaky "Sponsored content" markers which contain clickbait to whatever fake stories, whether political, or health, or trivia. And young people, with all their technical skills on the new media, apparently haven't developed an skills at discerning news from advertisement propaganda.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/most-students-dont-know-when-news-is-fake-stanford-study-finds-1479752576

Finally David Brooks wrote about the bigger problem, one encouraged by the liberals for "Identity politics"
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/opinion/the-danger-of-a-dominant-identity.html
----
Bigots turn multidimensional human beings into one-dimensional creatures. Anti-Semites define Jewishness in a certain crude miniaturizing way. Racists define both blackness and whiteness in just that manner. Populists dehumanize complex people into the moronic categories of “the people” and “the elites.”

But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.
---

I've thought of my own standards on Facebook for interaction, and strangely the primary thing that puts me off is name-calling, like the word "libtard" perhaps as the easiest example. And when I see it I know I'm dealing with a troll who is not interested in honest debate, but merely to provoke. And I can ignore that, but if he's (and it's ALWAYS a he), got no more ammo than that, he's easy to unfriend and forget about, and block if I get annoyed enough.

Yesterday I threatened to block a liberal facebook user who was giving fake conservative graphics to mock them. He offered to block me first, so clearly blind hatred is on all sides. And our media, censored or not, is fueling a fire that we someday won't be able top stop, when we no longer recognize each other.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Anyone who thinks that the New York Times and the New Yorker are providing them with useful information woke up on the morning of November 9 to discover that all of their assumptions, all of the facts about the Obama presidency and the recent election campaign were lies. They discovered that they had been living in a bubble, in a fairy tale, in a fictional world that was crashing down around them.

I've wondered where the Republican party gained its inferiority complex, and perhaps it can be traced back to FDR, holding presidential power from 1932 to 1952, with landslide after landslide in the electoral college of nearly solid blue so 20 years of living underground clearly caused emotional distress.

But the Democratic party lost in a republican landslide in 1952 where only the south held onto the south, and then 1964 landslide of Johnson over Goldwater completely reversed the map with only southern states going republican, all because of Johnson's support of Civil Rights.

But in those golden days, political parties were not ideological pure, while slowly liberals were ousted from the republicans and became the party of conservatives only.

And now with ideological purity solidified on both sides, there's no middle ground left, and because main stream media journals are largely personally liberals, they can't be trusted with the facts, so alternative media and right wing talk radio arose to try to balance things out.

If there's any voice capable of finding an answer, I'd go for Jonathan Haidt, where he tried to point out Conservatives have a wider breadth of values, over the justice-obsessed left. So he actually supports conservative quotas to try to open the various echo chambers of each profession.

Nicholas Kristof talked about "liberal" intolerance and arrogance last spring:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/opinion/sunday/a-confession-of-liberal-intolerance.html

Perhaps it takes the election of someone like Trump to open some of the windows to those echo chambers and see what has been neglected. It's a harsh way to get a point - to threaten the entire world, but here we are.

Olympus Ares said...

"I've wondered where the Republican party gained its inferiority complex"

Troll.

Dennis said...

People who are secure in themselves do NOT have to call others who disagrees with them, deplorables, bigots, sexist, et al or peddle concepts like Right Wing conspiracies. I can understand why some to the right of the Left might use the same tactics just to protect themselves, but most do not.
Funny using Kristof as an example when he is one of the biggest name callers with his other NYT brethren. The contempt shown by the Left better demonstrates insecurity. If insecurity was not so prevalent on the Left one would see them engage in a real dialogue vice trying to avoid the "marketplace of ideas." We have "snowflakes,"not my terminology, because we are producing people incapable of dealing with reality. If one side needs "sale places" then they are the insecure ones.
Ares,
I know you don't recognize it, but your intolerance, distain and lack of respect for those who may disagree just oozes from your comments. A closed mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I am a deplorable. And proud. I bask in their righteous judgment. It's all they have. Bring it on.

Looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my self-righteous stepmother-in-law. I will be on my best behavior. After all, I have nothing to apologize for.

Trigger Warning said...

Good catch, OA. I find it amusing that a Democrat CEO gets fired for threatening to murder Trump, and a Democrat Politico editor resigns for threatening to beat Trump with a baseball bat, but Ares thinks it's Republicans who have an "inferiority complex". :-D

By the way, Ares, junk Freudian diagnoses are just weak attempts by poorly educated leftists to kill a debate when they've run out of arguments.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Why so much hate, Ares?

Ares Olympus said...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said... Why so much hate, Ares?

Can you be more specific?

I so often feel like I'm just looking for some middle ground across a very large chasm. Bridges are hard to come by these day, and burning them is so much fun for all sides.

Trigger Warning said...

By definition, there is no middle ground in a wide chasm. Brush up on the English.

AesopFan said...

I think some of you are overlooking the points of agreement with Ares in a rush to mock the areas of difference. Some of this is good ground for debate, not dismissal. (Broken into two parts because of the 4096 character limit).

Ares Olympus said...(in quotes)

"I've wondered where the Republican party gained its inferiority complex, and perhaps it can be traced back to FDR, holding presidential power from 1932 to 1952, with landslide after landslide in the electoral college of nearly solid blue so 20 years of living underground clearly caused emotional distress."

Poor choice of words, and I think this latest election illustrates why. Republicans do not consider themselves inferior to Democrats; the idea of an "inferiority complex" is the drumbeat of the Dems -- the Right must be inferior because we beat them (with the same kind of lies and media bias still in evidence, I suspect) -- which led to the landslide rebuke of the condescending elites that we saw this month. And, BTW, which side is more prone to acting out its emotional distress?

"But the Democratic party lost in a republican landslide in 1952 where only the south held onto the south, and then 1964 landslide of Johnson over Goldwater completely reversed the map with only southern states going republican, all because of Johnson's support of Civil Rights."
The southern Dems at the time were the racists in reality that the present-day GOP is accused of being; the massive -- almost geological -- folding of the ideological strata in the two legacy parties is nearly impossible to unravel, and I would just as soon quit talking about them as if either one still represented its former ideals.
I'm still trying to work out how that maps with the foregoing answer, but there is a core of the original ideologies left in each party, just not the factors commonly cited in the heat of battle.

"But in those golden days, political parties were not ideological[ly] pure, while slowly liberals were ousted from the republicans and became the party of conservatives only."

This is true, if one substitutes "progressives" for the term "liberal" -- another example of ambiguity -- however, a more accurate characterization is that conservatives are only in the Republican party, not that Republicans are only conservatives. And it would be more correct to say that conservatives were booted out of the Democrat Party (see Reagan's famous "I didn't leave the Democrats; the Democrats left me.")
I have seen multiple studies on the development of this "chasm" over the years, indicating how it contributes to the partisan gridlock in Congress because there are no longer any Members whose ideology allows them to compromise in the center (which is why the Left circumvents legislation with administrative regulations).

AesopFan said...

(continued)
"And now with ideological purity solidified on both sides, there's no middle ground left, and because main stream media journals are largely personally liberals, they can't be trusted with the facts, so alternative media and right wing talk radio arose to try to balance things out."
I don't think any of this is disputable.

"If there's any voice capable of finding an answer, I'd go for Jonathan Haidt, where he tried to point out Conservatives have a wider breadth of values, over the justice-obsessed left. So he actually supports conservative quotas to try to open the various echo chambers of each profession."
True; although I have some areas of disagreement with Haidt, at least he is trying to keep a dialogue open.


"Perhaps it takes the election of someone like Trump to open some of the windows to those echo chambers and see what has been neglected. It's a harsh way to get a point - to threaten the entire world, but here we are."
November 23, 2016 at 3:37 AM

Opening up the echo chambers is putting it mildly, and there are multiple writers on the Right and the Left pointing out the seismic nature of the event.
However, claiming that Trump's election threatens the entire world is hyperbole and not self-evident; it's an opinion.
Like the feeling on the Right that Obama's election threatened the entire world -- except, it turns out, they were right.

AesopFan said...

And now for something more amusing:
http://www.recode.net/2016/11/20/13691162/snl-culture-bubble-san-francisco-new-york

Well played, “Saturday Night Live.” Very. Well. Played.

The cast of “SNL” produced a skit called “The Bubble” this weekend that spoofed the San Francisco and New York culture bubbles, which are very real. The skit depicts a city, literally covered in a bubble, for “like-minded free-thinkers” in disbelief over Donald Trump’s recent election victory.

“If you’re an open-minded person, come here and close yourself in,” says “SNL’s” pitchman. “In here, it’s like the election never happened.”

The Bubble comes equipped with hybrid cars, used book stores and multi-million dollar single-bedroom apartments. So you know the “SNL” writers did their research.

“It’s their America now. We’ll be fine, right here in The Bubble.”

Sounds like a great place to live!

Ares Olympus said...

AesopFan said... Poor choice of words, and I think this latest election illustrates why. Republicans do not consider themselves inferior to Democrats; the idea of an "inferiority complex" is the drumbeat of the Dems -- the Right must be inferior because we beat them

I've thought about why it seems the Right has an inferiority complex, and probably Trump represents it most soundly - anyone who has to insult others to gain status clearly has a problem inside, and is compensating for it. Trump may not "feel inferior", but his low class attacks and insults prove that something inferior exists inside of him.

And questioning Obama's birth, while he had an American mother, so like Ted Cruz, even if he was born off American soil, Obama would still be an American.

And questioning Obama's religion and claiming he was Muslim, while there is no evidence, and even worse even if he was Muslim, it should mean absolutely nothing in a land which has a freedom of religion. You can choose to not vote for a Muslim if you like, but it doesn't make him not your president if a majority people do vote for him. So that sort of fear also looks like inferiority to me.

And the crazy insanity of the tragic Benghazi attack. Maybe the republican leadership themselves actually would be glad to have put the issues to rest after the initial reports were completed, but just harped on it over and over for political gain, because they had nothing else to talk about. But you have to think only inferior people act that way.

I don't judge their sense of inferiority is about Democrats winning, but clearly that is a trigger for this sort of abusive behavior to become visible.

Of course shameless Donald Trump was apparently the cure to this Republican inferiority. While the conservative standard bearers decried Trump's bullting and abusive language, the people who felt disrespected were enboldened, finally someone who can beat the Republican and Democratic "establishment" by force of their will.

So now the Republicans have the whole chessboard, or nearly. Now they have to deliver. I'm very skeptical of their success, but at least we don't have to talk about transgender rights and global warming issues for a while, so I guess that's a bonus. Denying things we don't want to talk about will now be the American way, although I suppose its always been our way.

I do think other country leaders are rightfully fearful of a bully like Trump, and that they should do everything they can to stand up to him, not bullying in return, but using every opportunity to repudiate his bad character, whatever the cost. He will become the President of the United States, not the world, and no one else must bow to him except Americans looking for special favors in his administration.

We'll see. Overall I'll call his election a good thing, since 2020 scared me more, and the Left will stay more awake to abuses of power when a Republican is in power.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares, you are a remarkably silly person.

Trigger Warning said...

Exuberantly, profusely, luxuriantly silly.