Home / General / “FAKE NEWS” Is a Distraction From the Disastrous Performance of “Real” News

“FAKE NEWS” Is a Distraction From the Disastrous Performance of “Real” News

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This is absolutely dead-on:

While it’s true that fake news appears to have circulated widely in Trump-friendly corners of the internet — possibly with some assistance from the Russian government — the idea that fake news was central to the outcome of the campaign has little basis in fact. The very nature of viral fake news is that it’s mostly likely to be shared by people who have already bought into a partisan or ideological worldview, with pro-Trump fake news largely shared by Trump supporters to other Trump supporters.

Clinton’s campaign did have a real news problem, but the problem was with the real news coverage — coverage that dwelled overwhelmingly on a bullshit email server scandal, devoted far fewer resources to investigating Trump’s shady foundation than Clinton’s lifesaving one, largely ignored Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, and almost entirely avoided discussion of the policy stakes in the campaign.

Trump ended the campaign as he began it — unpopular and viewed as unqualified by a majority of voters, with no amount of fake news stories to puff him up succeeding in moving the needle. But Clinton, who began the 2016 cycle with reasonably high favorable numbers, saw them crater under a torrent of email stories with 45 percent of voters telling exit pollsters they were bothered “a lot” by her decision to forgo a state.gov email address, of which 86 percent voted for Trump.

Whether journalists want to be proud or ashamed of the work done by mainstream press during the campaign is up to them, but it was perfectly normal stories in normal outlets that moved the needle in a major way — fake news was a total sideshow.

[…]

The stories about Clinton’s email server, the separate spate of stories about Clinton Foundation emails revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, and the third spate of stories about emails stolen from John Podesta’s email account were not fake news.

They were very real stories that totally normal mainstream media organizations chose to make the focal point of their coverage of the 2016 campaign. This coverage, though extremely extensive, did an extraordinarily poor job of explaining the actual legal issue at stake in the server matter. Network television newscasts from ABC, NBC, and CBS chose to devote three times as much airtime to Clinton’s email server as they gave to all policy issues combined. The Associated Press ran a major investigative story into Clinton Foundation influence peddling that treated a meeting with a Nobel Peace Prize winner as evidence of an insidious pay-to-play scheme. The New York Times did a Clinton Foundation investigation that treated Bill Clinton successfully rescuing American hostages from North Korea as scandalous. The fact that public health experts believe the Clinton Foundation saved millions of lives, by contrast, played extremely little role in 2016 campaign coverage.

To summarize the media’s performance in the election campaign that installed Donald Trump in the White House, its coverage of his opponent was completely dominated by trivial pseudo-scandals, and the quality of the coverage given these topics was extraordinarily bad. There is no possible defense of this, no conceivable argument that Hillary Clinton’s email server management was far more important that every policy issue but together, no possible justification for the implicit claim that the Clinton Foundation was similarly corrupt to one of Donald Trump’s many actual cons including his actual fake foundation. This is just a huge institutional failure with disastrous consequences.

On a related note, I’ve always thought that liberals over-emphasizes the impact of Fox News. The War on Gore that put George W. Bush in the White House was driven by the mainstream media — including newspapers with liberal op-ed pages — and so was the even worse sequel. Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem. The fact that after not just 2016 but 2000 a lot of liberals just want to ignore this because it would be whining or something is just amazing to me. We certainly know that’s not how Republicans would react, which is of course a crucial reason why the media was so desperate to find anything it could use to create a false equivalency between Clinton and Trump.

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  • I think part of the problem is that the reporters and editors knew that the Clinton pseudo-scandals didn’t really amount to anything, and that Trump’s real scandals did. But they thought average voters could make that discrimination as well (we report, you decide) so they didn’t need to point it out. At least that’s how they rationalized what they were doing. They figured that Trump’s outrageousness spoke for itself. But obviously, for many people, it did not. They also didn’t think Trump had any chance so they didn’t think it was crucial to hold him accountable.

    But also too, for mysterious reasons they have always hated Hillary Clinton.

    • AMK

      This is absolutely spot-on. The people running the mainstream press–college-education, urban-centric, liberalish people–underestimated the rank stupidity of large pockets of flyover America. Elites in both Parties who live in the same bubble did the same thing. Groupthink on a massive scale.

      And the people just now starting to talk about “fake news” have clearly never seen/heard Fox, Drudge Report, Limbaugh etc, all of which have been doing the same thing for the same people for like 20 years now.

    • DrDick

      You have far more faith in the media than is warranted by the evidence. They flat do not care about “informing” the public. All they are interested in is viewership and ad revenues.

      • I think that’s true of some, but others really do think they are public servants. They’re working for sociopathic capitalists however, so they manage to rationalize.

        • I think that must be true of many reporters, who really do think they provide a public service, but I don’t think that applies to most publishers (print and on-line) and editors.

    • Alex.S

      I doubt that — many reporters demonstrated frequently that they had no idea on the role of the FBI, how classified information is handled, or how technology worked.

      At a very basic level, there is no difference in the penalties and handling of classified information for going to a non-state.gov account vs a state.gov account.

      • That may have happened sometimes, but usually, buried in the story somewhere, was an inconspicuous acknowledgment that there wasn’t really any wrongdoing.

        • JR in WV

          Carefully buried, very deeply in the story, where NO ONE in the normal TV news audience will NEVER EVER see it. Invisible details aren’t important, by definition.

          The news media is bought and sold, in this case we can’t tell by whom, but we know who they wanted to win.

          The end of democracy in the world as we have known it.

          We’re moving to the Roman Imperial model in a little over 4 weeks, and it is going to be interesting, in the worst way.

    • The Lorax

      “We report, you decide” also serves as a defense when Rush calls them liberal. “How can we be liberal? We work so hard to give the impression that both-sides-do-it!”

  • jam

    I want to call attention to this insightful comment from medrawt in an earlier thread.

    I think it’s evident that our media experiment has failed. It does not seem possible to have a news media that is:

    (1) Informative and truthful
    (2) Nonpartisan
    (3) Profitable

    All at the same time. You suggest attacking prong (3), but given the relatively low trust in media at this time, I wonder if we wouldn’t be more successful doing more hacking at prong (2) – particularly in convincing people like, say, my dad, who’s well aware that the NYTimes isn’t meaningfully leftist, that it’s ok to get news from explicitly partisan outlets as long as they’re also informative and truthful.

    • West

      I saw that over there and agree with the main gist of it, except the problem isn’t profit, it’s where the profit comes from. If the profit comes from corporations via advertising, the problem will never be solved.

      So I’m increasingly convinced that we non-Republicans must build an entirely new media. It has to hit point 1, point 2 can be scrapped so long as it’s honestly partisan, and instead of “profitable” for point 3, I feel the emphasis must be on “aim for breakeven with 100% of revenues being from subscribers.”

      This will mean people being willing to pay equivalent monthly amounts for news as they pay for cable TV.

      • CaptainBringdown

        Wouldn’t this just amount to preaching to the converted, though? I’m not sure how useful that would be.

        • humanoid.panda

          I saw that over there and agree with the main gist of it, except the problem isn’t profit, it’s where the profit comes from. If the profit comes from corporations via advertising, the problem will never be solved.

          This argument works for cable news, but I think it totally misses on why the New York Times covered the election as they did. The real problem is not that they were producing bad stuff for more readers or to assuage their masters- its that they were thinking they were providing good journalism.

          • West

            I no longer see any reason to believe the NYT believes in good journalism or is trying to provide it. They cater to a very particular clientele, whose income range can be discerned from their travel and real estate pages. Having Paul Krugman in there is a sop to their alleged clientele; the rest of the paper grovels pretty shamelessly at the feet of their real clientele. The real NYT clientele votes republican.

            • humanoid.panda

              Which explains their huge membership spike in the weeks following the election, how?

              The truth is that there are plenty of rich people who vote Democratic and for whom the real estate and travel pages cater (Manhattan was not exactly a Trumpian bastion..). Rich republicans read the WSJ anyway.

              • humanoid.panda

                In general, its really tempting to think the person X is doing Y because she is corrupt or venal. But much more often that person does Y because she believes that is the right thing to do – which is far worse.

        • West

          If it was as wildly partisan as Fox, perhaps. I envision something with a broader range of opinions amongst the reporters. Hence there’d have to be a strong emphasis on the “informative and truthful” side of it. This would have to include printing articles critical of elected Democrats: plenty of room for criticism there. And articles that are critical of liberal shibboleths, if the writer can make a fair argument.

          It could also not be just national; local news in this country is down to jack-squat. TV crap, mostly, whatever is telegenic.

        • jam

          When Democrats accept that shitty coverage from CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the NYT is accurate and non-biased, then it discourages them from participating and encourages the idea that the Democrats are all just as corrupt as the Republicans.

          It’s unilateral disarmament.

          Do you think that Fox News is not useful to the right wing?

          • CaptainBringdown

            I largely agree w/Scott’s assessment that “Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem.”

            So while a lefty, subscription-based outlet might not be totally useless, I’m not sure it would be a big solution.

            • so-in-so

              Ignores the degree to which the GOP has gone from being somewhat sane conservative to extreme freakish reactionary, from opposing foreign influence to welcoming the hand of the likes of Putin. Preaching to the converted can be bad if it keeps making them crazier.

              • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                Not only crazier, but also believing “facts” which are really lies.

                The bad news, from research on people who believe immunizations will ruin their kids, is that once someone has decided to believe something its incredibly difficult to get them to see reality.

                One of the oddities of the human mind is that if you show proof that something was false it actually reinforces the falsehood, rather than refuting it, for most people.

          • West

            Exactly. Fox News is more useful than just keeping the converted in their converted state; they help drag the conversation to the right, and with no counterbalance to the left, the weaklings in the “middle” allow themselves to get dragged right. Hence the “middle” is actually a perpetual right-ward drift, not a middle at all.

            But to clarify, the kind of news I’d like to see rise up would not even attempt to start at the national news level. I’d aim for online “newspapers”, 100% subscriber-based, starting local/state level and coordinating with each other to disseminate important local/state news elsewhere.

    • XTPD

      I cosign your comment, and wish to bring your attention to how today’s press would have covered Watergate.

  • Hogan

    Coming soon: “Why couldn’t Clinton put fake scandals behind her? A five-part investigation into her campaign communication staff.”

    • tsam

      **featuring the latest in campaign emails and correspondence provided by Wikileaks

    • jam

      Unfortunately, that’s the tone and emphasis the NYT begins with in their piece linked from LGM earlier.

      The first dozen paragraphs feature:

      Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the D.N.C. who fielded the call, was no expert in cyberattacks.

      And the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions

      Even Mr. Podesta, a savvy Washington insider who had written a 2014 report on cyberprivacy for President Obama, did not truly understand the gravity of the hacking.

      The article doesn’t describe media complicity until more than 100(!) paragraphs into the article and completely fails to mention Mitch McConnell’s complicity in allowing Russian espionage affect the US election (his name appears 0 times).

    • StellaB

      It should have been obvious to her in advance that rescuing journalists, providing medicine to save the lives of millions, and maintaining personal friendships of many decades throughout the world would give people the impression of impropriety. Add to that her unchristian choice of marriage therapy over divorce when her husband cheated on her and it was impossible for the country to give her 3 million more votes than Trump.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    From the beginning, the media viewed the Clintons as white trash pretenders to the White House. They were willing to believe the Clintons were capable of just about anything and only gave them the minimal benefit of the doubt.

    • See, also Carter, Jimmy. One of the reasons St. Ronnie and his lovely wife Nancy were so adored by the press was that they spent a great deal of effort on the social life of DC. This return to elegance concealed a great deal of the pernicious work that the Reaganauts were doing from the local establishment, and was widely reported as a relief after the departure of the bumpkins of the Carter White House

  • humanoid.panda

    And the worst thing about this: post-elections, the Times had a huge subsription surge, driven by liberals who want to defend free media from Trump. In other words, the Times has zero incentive to behave differently.

    • The Lorax

      Sigh. Well, I canceled.

      • so-in-so

        Not enough people will ever cancel. If you want to impress the NYT, you get people to contact their advertisers and claim to be intent on avoiding them if they continue to advertise in the Times.

        Remember, the paper isn’t a vehicle for delivering news, it’s a vehicle to deliver viewers to the advertisers. If it could still get readers without actually printing any news, it surely would do so.

  • Mart

    Sounding like Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler.

    • njorl

      We should all be howling daily.

    • No, if it was Somerby, there’d be a diatribe about Rachel Maddow in the middle for no reason.

      • Hogan

        And it would be about 80,000 words longer.

    • Warren Terra

      I haven’t read Somerby in possibly as much as a decade – but as repetitive and prolix and even tiresome as he was, he was absolutely correct, and absolutely invaluable, in his documenting of The War On Gore, and if the country had learned from his screeds we might have gotten President Kerry in 2004, or President Clinton in 2016.

  • Steve

    On a related note, I’ve always thought that liberals over-emphasizes the impact of Fox News. The War on Gore that put George W. Bush in the White House was driven by the mainstream media — including newspapers with liberal op-ed pages — and so was the even worse sequel. Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem.

    Is their viewership percentage growing? It certainly could be a problem if their fever-dream fantasy news is reeling in and converting more people who were once reachable. There was certainly a “I lost my formerly reasonable parent to Fox News” genere of stories a few years back.

    • JR in WV

      My dad was a very active Rockefeller Republican who worked several elections to get Nelson Rockefeller nominated as the R presidential candidate, to no avail. My dad was against segregation in a southern town, having publicly resigned from the country club, the JCs etc.

      Yet as he aged and Faux became a thing, he became a crazed republican. Watched Faux every minute of every day IF he wasn’t watching the Weather Channel. I, on the other hand, view NOAA weather radar when needed.

      And hang out here.

  • On a related note, I’ve always thought that liberals over-emphasizes the impact of Fox News. The War on Gore that put George W. Bush in the White House was driven by the mainstream media — including newspapers with liberal op-ed pages — and so was the even worse sequel. Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem.

    True enough, but FOX acts as a rightward tug on the rest of the big media outlets, especially TV news. FOX makes crazy paranoid crap semi-respectable, then keeps bringing it up over and over and over again (and garners #1 ratings doing so) such that CNN and the networks feel the need to talk about it. FOX also acts as a sifter and megaphone for the crazy right wing stories that belch up from the fever swamps.

    Yes, FOX misinforms its audience and has made a lot of old people crazy paranoiacs, but it’s the corrosive effect they’ve had on the rest of corporate media that’s how we get network news spending more time on EMAILZ than on all policy issues combined. Remember, FOX has been a blatantly partisan outfit from the get-go, but in 2008 when the incoming Obama Administration even began to treat them that way, the other networks were the ones who stuck up for FOX.

    • Haha, you beat me to it.

    • Linnaeus

      As David Neiwert would put it, Fox News is a “transmitter”.

    • ColBatGuano

      Yeah, Fox isn’t just talking to grandpa at home. They are also working with Republicans to drive stories. Benghazi was almost entirely driven by Fox’s coverage and once it got Congressional investigations started, the mainstream media had to cover it in their inimitable “both sides” style.

    • THIS SO HARD!!

      • tsam

        THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

    • Phil Perspective

      … but it’s the corrosive effect they’ve had on the rest of corporate media …

      You nailed it right there. The corporate media. Corporations are authoritarian institutions.

  • On a related note, I’ve always thought that liberals over-emphasizes the impact of Fox News. The War on Gore that put George W. Bush in the White House was driven by the mainstream media — including newspapers with liberal op-ed pages — and so was the even worse sequel. Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem.

    I don’t quite agree with this: yes, legacy MSM is the bigger problem, but I think the existence of Fox News (and CNN) pushes MSM to the right and especially toward the sensational.

  • DrDick

    We no longer have a news media. It is all just “infotainment”, much like The History Channel programming.

    • Steve

      Hey, the History Channel turned into the Hitler channel years ago…the media and government are just playing catch up.

      • Thom

        But that got boring and the productions cost too much, so they turned into the Ice Road Truckers channel.

        • Linnaeus

          Sometimes I wish that The History Channel would go back to broadcasting Victory at Sea seven days a week.

          • so-in-so

            I thought it was “All Nostradamus” channel, but I confess to giving up on it years ago.

          • njorl

            I’d watch a channel that broadcast Victory at Sea, The World at War, War (Gwynne Dyer), Vietnam: A Television History (not the censored version) etc.

          • CP

            Aren’t they just all talking about Ancient Alien Precursor theories now?

            • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

              I’d say humans should wonder why aliens have been avoiding us for centuries now.

              Given our behavior, I can’t imagine that even alien psychiatrists can stand to watch us.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        One can only wish for the days of the “Hitler Channel” — it’s all reality programming and aliens/monsters/supernatural phenomena docudramas these days.

  • The Lorax

    MY has been terrific this fall.

    This has been the greatest press dereliction of duty in American history. That includes outlets like NYT and NPR. I just wish there was some way to ensure the coming horror was partially borne by the media who put Trump in place.

    • JR in WV

      I suspect many reporters will learn about the new requirements for reporting on the Imperial Presidency painfully over the next few months, when they get fired and their “personal effects” are burned in the basement with their corpse.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        First, they came for the reporters. And I said, “about damn time!”

  • Rob in CT

    OT:

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/12/raw-data-voter-turnout-state

    Just a helpful chart for when we discuss turnout.

    ETA: and while I’m OTing anyway:

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/12/jerry-brown-california-climate-change-donald-trump

    California, Uber Alles!

    • The Lorax

      I have taken solace in my home state of California since the election. We’ve decided we want to have a diverse, cosmopolitan society with a role for government and regulation here, and we’re going to do that with or without the reactionaries who put Trump in the White House.

      • StellaB

        I hope that we’re also going to have Browncare.

        • The Lorax

          Well, I suspect we’ll continue to run the exchange after they kill ACA. It might take the poor after they kill Medicaid.

  • CP

    On a related note, I’ve always thought that liberals over-emphasizes the impact of Fox News. The War on Gore that put George W. Bush in the White House was driven by the mainstream media — including newspapers with liberal op-ed pages — and so was the even worse sequel. Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem.

    It keeps right wing voters energized, radicalized, permanently pissed, locked in their own echo chamber (and the longer they live in it, the more unhinged and detached from reality they get), and increasingly convinced that people outside the bubble should be treated as battlefield enemies rather than misguided countrymen.

    Possibly the biggest problem with it is that it’s so easily accessible, so broadly watched, and covers just about everything. Yeah, there were always committed conservatives who got the National Review or the John Bircher pamphlets, but I don’t think the average conservative was plugged into those things thirty years ago the way they’re now plugged into Fox. Back then, everyone still watched the same few channels reporting the same basic news.

    The mainstream media does a huge amount of damage in contests between liberals and conservatives, but Fox News is the reason why the entire conservative population is as radicalized, misinformed, and impossible to deal with as they are in the first place. Its impact is indeed enormous.

    • libarbarian

      Possibly the biggest problem with it is that it’s so easily accessible, so broadly watched, and covers just about everything.

      Go to my Gym. Almost all the older white people watching news (on the machines) are watching Fox News. Almost no one is watching any other news.

      But still … this “article” is MORE of the same “It was everyone’s fault but ours” bullshit.

      The media is terrain. The defeat lies not with the terrain but with those who used it poorly.

      The Dems didn’t attack effectively.

    • THANK YOU.

  • libarbarian

    The news is a business and needs viewers. It won’t devote time to policy substance when viewers want scandal.

    • Bruce Vail

      Yes.

      It’s also true that the media is not really competent to evaluate and judge policy substance. One of the reasons that NYT, WaPo, etc., won’t evaluate tax policy proposals, for example, is that the reporters and editors don’t really know anything substantial about this subject. They are not competent to tell the public that Republican tax analyst A is a fraud while Democratic tax analyst B is genius.

      Sex, stealing money, and hypocrisy, on the other hand, are subjects that the media actually knows something about.

  • Crusty

    I think the media fell into the trap of evaluating each candidate on their own terms, or on separate standards for each.

    Hillary Clinton was a normal politician, capable, competent, but not everyone’s favorite. For a normal politician, the e-mail thing was not the greatest for appearances, but at the end of the day, a nothing burger.

    Trump was a completely unqualified dumpster fire, stoking the flames of racial resentment and misogyny, but also famous for most of his adult life for being something of an attention seeking dope. Against that backdrop, the grab ’em by the pussy comments were well, not good, but given that there were no allegations that he actually did things like put on a ski mask and lurk inside unsuspecting women’s apartments and rape and kill them, hey, it wasn’t that big a deal.

    So the upshot was Hillary Clinton, flawed politician. Donald Trump, flawed charlatan. So two flawed candidates, take your pick.

    • Boots Day

      I agree with most of this, but I’d add that the sheer volume of Trump’s scandals led reporters, who generally do make a good-faith effort to be fair, to focus more on the alleged Clinton scandals, to keep things balanced. Once they start talking about the way Trump abused his own “charitable foundation,” they wouldn’t want to be accused of whitewashing anything happening at the Clinton Foundation.

      I also think Trump benefited from how widespread his corruption and dishonesty was, so that the media couldn’t really focus on it. If he merely had a habit of stiffing contractors for work they had done for him, that could have turned into a series of stories from working joes that Trump stole from, and it might have ended up dominating the Trump conversation the way EMAILS! dominated the Clinton conversation. But before the media could really drill down on that, there was the $900 billion tax loss story, and the Trump University story, and the grab em by the pussy story, and and on and on and on…

      • Arla

        But aren’t voters capable of recognizing that? Of course the media made some horrible editorial choices, but it isn’t as though Trump’s history of fraud/theft/sexual assault/etc. was unknown to voters.

        Of course the media handled everything about this campaign terribly, but don’t viewers have at least some responsibility for recognizing bullshit when they see it? Does cable news really have to explain to the average person that rape and fraud are worse than questionable-if-not-illegal email management practices?

        • Junipermo

          I think both things are true–the media did an abominable job covering the election, and voters need to be held accountable for their choices. You’re right that no one should have to explain to the average person that rape and fraud are worse than email management practices that look a little funny.

          There are two things to bear in mind, however:

          1. Most people actually did see through the bullshit and voted for HRC.
          2. The people that voted for Trump largely did so out of bigotry. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what facts the media did manage to uncover–those voters were going with Trump no matter what.

          So, I don’t know that better media coverage would have made any difference in how this election turned out. That doesn’t mean the media shouldn’t do a much better job, and stop the endless search for “balance” and try focusing on the truth for once, though.

          • Arla

            Sure, that’s all fair, but my concern is less with the people who voted for Trump than with people who stayed home or voted for a third-party candidate because they were convinced Both Sides Are Terrible. I believe media coverage may have made a difference to those people, but of course it is impossible for me to verify. Is there any way to poll individuals who voted for Obama in 2012 but stayed home or went for Johnson or Stein in 2016?

          • efgoldman

            The people that voted for Trump largely did so out of bigotry.

            Some. A substantial proportion were/are Republiklowns/Republiklown voters. They don’t even know why, except they always did and their parents always did.

        • efgoldman

          But aren’t voters capable of recognizing that?

          Apparently not.
          SATSQ.

          • JR in WV

            Good!

            Short, sweet, accurate!

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          But aren’t voters capable of recognizing that?

          I’m not sure they ever were, but they’re certainly not now.

          This isn’t something unique to the US. Around the world, voters are increasingly voting for the most reactionary parties because of their excellence with propaganda, and the press’ inability to report on this effectively.

      • Junipermo

        I don’t think reporters make a good faith attempt to be fair. The Clinton Foundation non-scandals got endless coverage, and that coverage continued to turn up nothing. The fair thing to do would have been to stop publishing articles about nothing and to re-direct those resources to investigating something that really was shady. But that’s not what happened.

        • Arla

          Thank you for this comment. Fairness doesn’t mean “treating both sides equally, no matter what the facts show”; it means giving a fair airing to the facts. Treating Trump scandals as equivalent to Clinton non-scandals is a fundamentally unfair approach to the news.

        • JR in WV

          Absolutely!

          Fairness doesn’t count when you’re talking about Jimmy Carter and Ted Bundy!!

          Fairness doesn’t count when you’re talking Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler. Really!

          Email nothing-burgers and a foundation ranked at the top of the best large foundations do not balance fairly with sexual assault, stiffing contractors, a foundation used as a personal piggy bank, Trump University fraud, etc, etc.

          Grrrr.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Fairness literally doesn’t count.

            Viewers count. Trump got lots of viewers. Therefore, feature Trump with endless free TV time and go easy on the criticism.

  • leftwingfox

    On a related note, I’ve always thought that liberals over-emphasizes the impact of Fox News. The War on Gore that put George W. Bush in the White House was driven by the mainstream media — including newspapers with liberal op-ed pages — and so was the even worse sequel. Fox News preaches to the converted: it’s not the big problem.

    Unless this criticism is restricted to the electoral issues, I don’t agree. Fox News distorts the perspective of the viewers into unreality. It’s one thing to push conservative positions, but the schism between reality and the Republican base is getting worse.

    I’m still trying to find the article, but a substantial number of Republicans believe that Global Warming isn’t happening, that the stock market has dropped under Obama, that the unemployment rate has risen. With conspiracy theorists now in the executive branch, this is going to get substantially worse:

    http://www.vox.com/new-money/2016/11/16/13659840/facebook-fake-news-chart

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real

    On the narrow issue of the election, then yes, the mainstream media is culpable for a multitude of sins that materially affected Clinton on behalf of both Russia and Comey.

    • CP

      Fox News distorts the perspective of the viewers into unreality. It’s one thing to push conservative positions, but the schism between reality and the Republican base is getting worse.

      On the narrow issue of the election, then yes, the mainstream media is culpable for a multitude of sins that materially affected Clinton on behalf of both Russia and Comey.

      This. You said what I was trying to say, but better.

    • TopsyJane

      Fox News distorts the perspective of the viewers into unreality. It’s one thing to push conservative positions, but the schism between reality and the Republican base is getting worse.

      At this point the Internet is far more culpable for the reality gap. A lot of the wingnuts don’t trust Fox any more.

      • leftwingfox

        Oh, agreed completely. The conservative bubble includes multiple overlapping sources of misinformation that reinforce each other. That includes conservative radio, churches, religious education sources, Republicans and the internet.

        The mainstream media has completely failed to serve as any sort of check on rampant bullshit. The comment sections and feedback avenues are clogged with misinformation and counter-spin which is summarily ignored rather than addressed. By ignoring it, they’ve encouraged it.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          My local KS newspaper reports that the Kochs are about to launch a news network for people who think FOX is too liberal.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    I want to push back on this idea slightly, as I think that bad Real News and Fake News formed a symbiotic relationship. While I can’t prove it empirically, I think that one of the reasons that disastrously reported Real News was able to take purchase was that there was a market for it that had been primed by Fake News.

    Similarly, w/r/t Fox News, they are not just preaching to the converted, as I’ve seen several family members with moderate political views become radicalized conservatives following years of exposure to Fox. Also, that Fox News is often the default “news” channel that is on in the background in places like gyms and waiting rooms gives a lot of opportunities for a skewed conservative memes to infect the general public.

    • So: basic mindset of someone who isn’t a dedicated partisan is, at this point, that the media covers up for the misdeeds of powerful people. (Partisans think that too, but with an ideological component as well.) Certainly, they would expect the media to prefer Clinton to Trump.

      News headlines say: “Questions continue about Clinton, emails, Benghazi, and such”

      Fake news headlines say: “Clinton cackles over corpses of slain Americans at Benghazi”

      The truth must be somewhere in the middle, right?

      • Hogan

        The truth must be somewhere in the middle, right?

        This is the Law and the prophets profits.

      • CP

        What’s much worse is the public perception that the “real” “news” headlines are liberally biased. It means that even when they realize the New York Times is full of bullshit, any attempts they make to correct for that news will be done by looking for news that’s less “liberal” – i.e. even further down the right wing rabbit hole. Conversely, whenever they report stories that are bad for liberals, these stories are taken much more seriously than they should be because it’s assumed that “you see, even the liberal New York Times…”

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the “liberal media” myth is as big a problem in itself as either the “real news” or the “fake news.”

  • Taylor

    I have a suggestion: A concerted campaign on the left to make the Washington Post the national Newspaper of Record.

    Now I know there are very big problems with the WaPo editorial board, and I have no illusions that Jeff Bezos is a friend of the left, but the left needs to do something to get the attention of the meda, to let them know This Will Not Stand.

    Why does the NYT deserve this?
    1. Their swift-boating of Al Gore before he ever ran for President (cf Kit Seelye & Love Canal).
    2. Their part in promoting the illegal invasion of Iraq (cf Judy Miller and Michael Gordon).
    3. Their burying of the illegal wiretapping story before the 2004 election (which undoubtedly would have changed the outcome of that election).
    4. Their part in the EMAILZ scandal (the scandal is the way the media obsessed over it) which they still boast about! (see recent tweets by Dean Basquet)
    5. Their part in pouring cold water at the end of October on the link between Trump and Putin (they were either lied to, by a source they did not expose, or they are themselves compromised, we do not know who is holding their debt).

    For those that don’t want to support the WaPo: At least pull your subscription from the NYT and give it to Josh Marshall’s TPM, and give some real journalism a chance.

  • Bruce Vail

    Ummm…the media didn’t install Donald Trump in the White House, that is the function of the Electoral College.

    The media provided the voting public with a lot of negative information about Trump and Clinton, and the voters chose…Clinton.

    I don’t know how old you are Scott, but this has been pretty much the same media dynamic as every presidential election since I was a teenager in the 1970s.

  • kped

    2 things that would help the media:

    1) eliminate partisan “panel” discussions. Their hosts are now literally debate moderators between 3 sane people and 3 baying jackasses who “debate” whether facts are real or not.

    Do not, under any circumstances, talk about a Trump conflict and then throw to Jeffrey Fucking Lord and ask him “Jeffrey, what would you like Trump to say about this?” (this is a real thing that they did 2 days ago on Anderson Cooper, asking him about various conflicts of interest…do you really expect an honest answer from Jeffrey Fucking Lord?)

    2) When someone hands in a story for your newspaper, ask “what is the story”. Then review what was submitted. If it’s a story about someone trying to get a favor from a politician, and the favor wasn’t granted, but the story is thousands of words long and doesn’t get to that until word 1,900, and then still presents it like a conflict, maybe you should send that back to be re-written! And given the outcome, maybe it’s not an above the fold headline hinting at corruption…

    2 simple things can help a lot.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      re: point #2. How quaint. You think that editors still exist. From what I’ve read, most web reporters (where people increasingly get their news) are paid peanuts and expected to post more than one article per hour.

      The websites want articles, and the success of the article is measured by clicks, not by quality of the reporting.

      • kped

        I was thinking about the NYT and Newspapers more there. The Clinton Foundation 2000 word atrocity where Bill went to North Korea to rescue some hostages, and 2 aides of his asked the State Department for special Visa’s…and were denied, but still, the mere fact that they could ask and Huma responded “i’ll check for you” “raised questions”.

        An editor reads that (and the NYT does have multiple editors), notes that this disproves the allegations, and they should either trash the story, or change it into what it is, a story proving the allegations wrong. BUt time and again, the NYT buried the lede and went big on innuendo.

  • MDrew

    If Democrats & liberals go all-in on the complaining route (which I don’t deny on the merits they rightly could) …what are we imagining is going to happen?

    • kped

      I could turn that around and say “If leftists are going to go all-in on attacking liberals…what are we imagining is going to happen?”

      (I’m sure some that are spending all their days doing this imagine a giant ticker tape parade where liberals cede control of the party to them and in 4 years meekly ask who they can vote for…but I’m not quite sure that’s how this will go, so again..what do they expect will happen?)

    • kped

      (note, I’m not responding to what you actually posted, because it’s substance-less. It’s David Brooks level whinging “hey guys, why criticize them, it won’t do anything”. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but media criticism is very important).

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