Category Archives: Media

If Trump is so bad…

Why does the media feel the need to make him seem even worse?

media bias

Obama “replaces,” Trump “ousts.” Got it.

 


Reference:  5/15/09; 3/10/17

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When does a real news story become fake news?

2017-02-13Last week, my favorite talk radio host had a call in segment about whether or not the U.S. left and right could ever again really come together as a country. Bear with me as I take a roundabout approach to share my thoughts.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

 

Keith Eldridge is a reporter/anchor for KOMO, the ABC affiliate in Seattle. Yesterday morning, he tweeted the series of photos on the right. They tell the sad tale of a Tacoma family whose husband/father, Armando Chavez Corona, was detained by ICE after having been rear-ended on the freeway.

His wife said she had no idea why that might have happened and blamed it on President Trump. His teen-aged daughter worried that she might never see her father again. That’s awful, right? I mean, the accident wasn’t even his fault!

Do you notice anything missing from the tweets? Say, the reason why ICE might have gotten involved? I wondered, too, so I tweeted Keith Eldridge to ask, but got no response. I had to wait, as it says in one of his tweets, for the story at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.

As it turns out, Chavez Corona was arrested because he is a convicted felon who had been previously deported. This couple has been married for 16 years. How likely is it that Ms. Chavez didn’t know her husband had a felony drug conviction? Keith Eldridge surely knew before his morning tweets, but chose not to share that information.

Click through and you’ll see that Eldridge finally tweeted the rest of the story 8-1/2 hours later. The story posted on their website is also correct, but how many people didn’t or couldn’t get back to the story later in the day and were left with the wrong impression?

The obvious problem here is that for some people, the “facts” about this story are “Trump is a horrible person who wants to rip apart this lovely family,” while for others, the “facts” are “Thank God that Trump is deporting convicted felons.”

Granted, this isn’t a terribly important story on its own, but it’s part of a pattern that’s become increasingly obvious in the weeks since the election. The Federalist has compiled a list of 16 fake news stories, some of which are also not so important on their own but, taken as a whole, paint a very negative picture of the president and the GOP. These are national stories, but how many local stories like the one presented here have run?

So my questions are:

  • Did Eldridge have a responsibility to paint a fuller picture of the story in his morning tweets?
  • Was the lie of omission part of a calculated strategy to create a misleading impression? Or was it merely a marketing ploy?
  • If it was a marketing decision, do a station’s marketing concerns outweigh their responsibility to accurately report the news?
  • How do people stay informed if they can’t trust what they see and hear from news media?
  • How much of a story can be omitted before becomes fake news? Or how much bias can be injected into a story before it becomes fake?
  • How much responsibility does a news outlet bear to make news consumers aware that a story has been corrected or that they’ve published additional facts? (See what happened here.)

Our ability to come together as a unified people is directly tied to our ability to find common ground. When half the country is operating with one set of “facts” and the other half with another, that ability is profoundly hindered; we can’t find common ground if we don’t we share common facts.

There are plenty of things for which the President can legitimately be criticized, but people’s opinions of him should not be based on lies, partial truths and innuendo. Same with Congressional Republicans; God knows there have been many times I wanted to throttle the lot of them, but I want my criticisms to be based on fact, not fiction.

I don’t want to absolve the individual of the responsibility to stay informed, but I’m finding that it’s nearly a full-time job to sort out the real from the fake news. I’m retired so I have time for that, but what, for example, does a single mom do if she wants to stay informed? Cut out sleep altogether?

Conservatives have been trying to hold the news media accountable and demanding accurate reporting for years even if it means reporters and anchors have to do something completely crazy, like, you know, actually investigating rumors before tweeting them or repeating them on television.  That’s not surprising because, frankly they’re the ones who usually come out on the short end of this situation. Now it’s time for fair-minded liberals to demand it too.

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The Seattle Times; Keeping It Classy

sIn the frenzy leading up to the U.S. Open, Craig Smith, writing at the Seattle Times, compares the excitement of a major sporting event being held in Seattle’s “backyard” (I’m sure the residents University Place just love that characterization) to a natural disaster that killed 57 people – the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980.

But if you allow yourself, you can share the excitement of having one of the world’s major sporting events held in your backyard. It’s like when Mount St. Helens erupted. If you were around in 1980, you probably felt like an insider when East Coast friends called to ask about it.

The Seattle Times is no stranger to insensitive reporting on Mount St. Helens, publishing, if memory serves me, a photograph of two small boys in the back of a pickup truck, where they had first stripped off their clothes trying to keep cool in the intense heat of the blast, and ultimately perished, only to be stripped again… of the dignity they should have been allowed in death.

If that photo was meant to engender empathy on behalf of the victims, it doesn’t seem to have worked with Mr. Smith, whose memory of the event is, apparently, dominated by the excitement and sense of importance he felt when given the chance to fill in details for distant friends and family. Rather than the sadness and awe normal people would feel at the loss of life and the unfettered power of Mother Nature.

How shallow. “Watch the U.S. Open your best chance to feel like an insider since Mount St. Helens erupted!”

So, yeah. Keep it classy, Seattle Times. Keep it classy.

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The Smuggest Man in America

Pictures1I mean, really, look at that face. Have you ever seen anyone look more self-satisfied?

That’s the face of a man who thinks he’s so much smarter than you poor miserable mouth-breathers that you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever figuring out that he’s lying to your faces.

And if, from the comfort of your mother’s basement, or the trailer park, one of you did manage, after endless bumbling and stumbling about (drunkenly, probably) and an healthy dose of luck, to figure it out…Well, hey, he’s got no worries because his friends in the media will circle the wagons (here and here) to fend off any attacks from Right Wing Nutjobs. Or Teabaggers. Or both.

So the next time you sit down for the evening news, keep in mind what your betters in the media think of you and the other troglodytes watching.

 

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Brian Williams is a Lying Liar Who Lies About Lying

Brian+Williams

News you can trust. Except when they’re lying.

Brian Williams has apologized for making a grievous “mistake” in which he remembered and repeated, over the course of, what, 11 or 12 years, an event that never happened.

As he “remembered” it:

“The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG,” Williams said on the broadcast. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.”

So, yeah. That never happened.

What did happen, you might wonder, for Williams to misremember it so badly?

This:

Williams and his camera crew were actually aboard a Chinook in a formation that was about an hour behind the three helicopters [that had previously come] under fire, according to crew member interviews.

[William’s] Chinook took no fire and landed later beside the damaged helicopter due to an impending sandstorm from the Iraqi desert, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, who was the flight engineer on the aircraft that carried the journalists.

“No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft,” he said Wednesday.

So nothing. The entire story is a product of William’s imagination.

During his explanation, Williams said, “I would not have chosen to make this mistake. I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

Wow, I guess somebody needs to see a neurologist to figure out what’s going on in that brain of his! Or a psychiatrist.

Pfft! Let me clear things up for you, Brian. This thing called “lying” caused your mistake. Lying is when you say something you know to be false. You lied to make yourself seem heroic and more important. Also, don’t think you’ve apologized for lying; for an apology to be sincere, there needs to be some sort of indication that the person doing the apologizing recognizes his own wrongdoing on some level. I’m not seeing that here.

Read the whole story at Stars and Stripes.

Update: Also fabricated? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

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What Were They Thinking?

Fox news roomToday Fox News revealed a bizarre, newly restyled newsroom and Twitter reacted. As Jenny Erickson said, “Fox News, and let’s face it — you’re mocked enough as it is. You hardly need to bring it upon yourself.”

My favorite description of the new technology came from The Verge:

Smith later demonstrates a gigantic 38-foot-long video wall with a device “never been used in broadcast television before.” It’s a remote control that allows Smith to shuffle through an image carousel with no apparent journalistic purpose. “For instance, I can take this lady who’s been evacuating from a hurricane zone and move it over here,” Smith says.

All I could think, when I saw those newsroom staffers in the background sitting at those ridiculously large touch screens was, “Where’s Edith Ann?”

Get-Born-Edith-Ann

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How Stupid?

Here’s the question: How stupid does one have to be to disqualify one’s self from employment as an anchor at CNN? The answer, apparently, is “pretty damn stupid,” as demonstrated by Carol Costello this morning during coverage of the D.C. Navy Yard shooting.

On the off chance that the powers that be at CNN think this does disqualify Costello, my dog Shasta is available as a replacement. I think her IQ would match up favorably with Costello, and she looks great on camera.
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