Evil Nuances of Media Messaging

Glendale, California
Saturday, January 6, 2018

 

 

Evil Nuances of Media Messaging

Major media outlets render finding truth—about facts as truth or as bases for opinions—increasingly difficult.

Consider but one small example:

When you open the digital edition of the New York Times any day of the week, it reads

Here’s the news you need to start you day.

Says who?

If not reading with a critical eye, you might feel seduced into believing NYT actually knows what you need to know.

They do not.

I do not.

No one does except YOU.

In contrast, consider the typical introduction to broadcast news stories run by the BBC:

Here are some of the stories we are following.

REFRESHING!

NON-INVASIVE!

Here’s another example:

In an article entitled What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Russian Hacking, Jackson Lears provides clear documentation that the allegedly well-established Russian hacking of the last national election is…

well…

not well-established.

James Clapper, who directed the NSA at the time potential hacks were discovered, reported that a small number of “hand-picked analysts” had “moderate confidence” that the hacking actually occurred. Lears continues:

The label Intelligence Community Assessment creates a misleading impression of unanimity, given that only three of the 16 US intelligence agencies contributed to the report.

Lears proceeds to document how the NYT legitimated CIA reports of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

We all know, painfully, the allegations turned out to be false, billions of dollars and thousands of dead-people later.

Lears adds,

Once again, the established press is legitimating pronouncements made by the Church Fathers of the security state.

Please note Lears is no Trump apologist.

Later in the same article, he writes,

What is unprecedented about Trump is his offensive style: contemptuous, bullying, inarticulate, and yet perfectly pitched to appeal to the anger and anxiety of his target audience.

Well-stated!

And, yet, here, even Lears, working as a journalist, peddles his opinion, not the facts.

Still later, Lears underlines the point of writing this post, full of fear and irritation, today:

The rush to publish without sufficient intention to accuracy has become the new normal in journalism. Retraction or correction is almost beside the point: the false accusation has done its work.

You’ve heard buyers beware.

I add, readers beware.

Or, more boldly, suspect all information you consume, doubt its veracity, and consider it:

Provisional, possible, potential. 

The late Tom Hayden popularized the phrase,

Question authority.

In our world, we’d be better served by:

Question everything.

Meanwhile, if you’ve read this far, you might be impressed by the few introductory paragraphs of the BBC’s editorial code:

Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest. We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences. 

It continues, regarding truth and accuracy, to proclaim,

We seek to establish the truth of what has happened and are committed to achieving due accuracy in all our output. Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right; when necessary, we will weigh relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We will strive to be honest and open about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation.

And regarding impartiality, it emphasizes that:

impartiality lies at the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences. We will apply due impartiality to all our subject matter and will reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across our output as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented. We will be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts. 

Way to go, Brits.

What’s up with we Americans?

Truth is not a reality-TV show.

It’s the truth.

Have we lost the capacity to tell the difference?

 

References

Lears, J. (1/4/18). What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Russian Hacking. London Review of Books. Bloomsbury, London.

 

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Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP

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