Posts Tagged ‘Media’

on credibility

December 9, 2016

The post-election examination of the state of society in the United States is going strong a month after the election itself. The role of the national media, established press outlets, and new media continues to get a lot of attention, especially in the context of claims about the rise of “fake news” and its affects on the decisions of voters.

The claims about “fake news” center on engagement with articles and websites, often through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The most serious charge is that the Russian government initiated a concerted effort to spread misleading information in order to 1) sway the election to Donald Trump, 2) undermine American confidence in its political processes and institutions, or 3) both.

The Washington Post made a substantial contribution to the claim in an article by Craig Timberg. Ironically enough, the Post article itself was quickly criticized for demonstrating the very characteristics of the sort of “fake news” that it was supposedly intended to expose. The situation added to a wider concern about the reputation of the media.

It was widely perceived during the campaign that the established press organizations had abandoned their perceived role as neutral providers of news in favor of promoting Hillary Clinton, or at least defeating Donald Trump. Much campaign coverage had begun to be transparently designed to avoid hurting Clinton’s campaign and to maximize damage to Trump’s. For a substantial portion of the population, this only served to undermine confidence in the truth of reporting. In other words, the reduction in credibility led to many people wondering if the reporting of the established media outlets was to that extent “fake news.”

With that perception of the media in place, it’s difficult to condemn other for the practice of purveying fake news. It will be interesting to see over the next several months whether an effort to reestablish a perception of credibility and fairness will be on the agenda for the national media.

Every one of the three major candidates in this election (Trump, Clinton, and Sanders) was hounded by fake or exaggerated news stories. Trump was accused of being a secret Russian agent. Clinton’s email scandal was blown out of all reasonable proportion. And Bernie Sanders was hounded by malicious and unrepresentative stereotypes about “BernieBros.” Yet none of these stories were from fringe blogs and conspiracy sites. They were all produced by the mainstream press, which gave this nonsense primacy over stories about climate change, nuclear proliferation, Syria, health care, poverty, and every other conceivable issue of consequence.

Concerns about fake news are justified. But instead of begging our Silicon Valley overlords to crack down on the free sharing of information, we might start by building a mainstream press that has credibility of its own.

Nathan J. Robinson

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on presidential media access

November 30, 2016

The reaction of the press to the campaign and election of Donald Trump is still one of the most culturally prominent issues of the season. The diversification of programming available is one reason for that distinctions among people in the society are becoming more apparent. The polarization between political views in the country may well have been strengthened by the decision of much of the press to take sides with the Progressive policy advocates; in the absence of widely disseminated information that all parties could accept as a starting place for discussion, lack of understanding and distrust deepened.

One important way this has played out is in the reporting on the transition to the Trump administration. Because of social media and the internet, more and more people can quickly and easily compare the way the press reports on Trump with how they reported on Obama, and the contrast is striking, which further weakens their reliability. The reaction to Trump’s YouTube address on his transition and on Thanksgiving is an example, where his use of social media is reported as a problem in contrast to it being strategic when Obama used it.

Between 2007 and 2016, much of the press considered this a story of evolving technology and communication. But what used to be an interesting challenge that had media “scrambling to stay in the game” against an innovative, young president is now a grave threat. Somewhere in between is probably the correct assessment, and swinging between admiration and fear depending on the president doesn’t create better coverage or earn more trust from readers.

Mary Katherine Ham

Quote of the day

November 26, 2016

The national political press has declined even more precipitously than the political class, and the president-elect was elevated despite the animosity of both, a signal achievement whose significance those who have been vanquished show no signs of grasping.

Conrad Black

Quote of the day

November 23, 2016

[Y]oung people have not yet experienced multiple situations in which the media scares the public over nothing. To them, the fear of Trump is real because the Internet and the media says it is real. To people my age, we have seen one fake media scare after another. We don’t believe in fake scares the same way that that young people do because we’ve been through it so many times.

Scott Adams

on Trump and racism

November 18, 2016

It’s taken as a given on the political left that Trump is a racist, that his campaign was premised on appealing to white supremacy, and thus anyone voting for him, supporting him, or not opposing him vociferously enough is racist. His victory in the 2016 Presidential election has led to an outpouring of vitriol along this line, along with histrionic claims of emotional suffering inflicted upon students, children, etc., by the realization that half of the nation is blatantly racist.

Scott Alexander, who describes himself as working in the area of mental health, has written a devastating essay dismantling this narrative. Mr. Alexander is not a supporter of Mr. Trump by any stretch of the imagination, yet because of his understanding of this particular aspect of human behavior he’s quite adamant about setting the record straight on the issue.

It does matter to people’s well-being what they are constantly told about themselves and others and their relationship to the world. That the political left is willing to accept causing harm to people by repeating falsehoods because they want political power should worry anyone, especially political liberals of good will.

on distrust of institutions

June 20, 2016

There’s a sense among many that well established points of view should command general assent, and that it’s somewhat of a sign of mental deficiency to dissent from the widely promoted points of view. The problem for those in the ruling class, however, is that their position has been so abused over the past few decades that more and more people have abandoned the principle of credulity, the default assumption of honesty in communication. Part of the reason for the baseline skepticism is that the powers that be have promulgated falsehoods frequently enough that fewer and fewer people are willing to accept their statements at face value.

From the wayback machine, a reminder of how disingenuous and mendacious the reporting was after Representative Giffords was injured, and many others murdered, in early 2011. Politicians and reporters can’t expect people to believe their statements without scrutiny after this sort of conduct.

be careful what you wish for

June 5, 2016

I think it’s important to note that resistance to the Leftist agenda once took a rather different form than what we’re seeing now behind Donald Trump. A lot of people got involved in what were loosely combined as Tea Party groups to voice their displeasure with the encroachment of State power through taxes and regulations. They were despised and demeaned by the arbiters of culture and taste, who wished they would shut up and go back home and be quiet about their concerns. At this point they largely have.

Those cultured despisers of the people populating Tea Party gatherings now find themselves confronting a strain of opposition far less principled and completely unwilling to dialogue and discuss, and rather than a loose collection of concerned groups the opposition is now focused on following a single figure who has hardened opposition and resistance to any rapprochement. It may be a long, hot summer.

I wonder if the Ruling Class might wish they could have the Tea Party back and perhaps genuinely address some of their concerns. The Tea Party was far less partisan and thus would have been far more likely to find ways to work together. Alas.

a Donald Trump election

May 12, 2016

Nothing has really changed much from early in the primary season. No one has the slightest clue how to address the policy and persona of Donald Trump, and the press is still chasing eyeballs for money. What a mess.

with apologies to Jonah Goldberg

April 7, 2016

If Leftists gain the opportunity, even when it comes to basic items in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, there will be nothing outside the state, and nothing against the state.