Let’s Play Journalism, and Make Fake News
Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well (Blog), Feb 14 2017
This journalism thingie has gotten so easy, anyone can do it. Let’s play make the fake news funtime! The elderly may remember the Old Journalism. Back in BT (Before Trump) journalists in mainstream outlets had to gather facts (i.e., true things) from sources (people with names who knew true things) that would withstand fact-checking (looking stuff up, or having a second source confirm stuff.) If you quoted something already established as a fact, you were obligated to link to it. There were notably exceptions. For example, in 2003, the NYT simply “believed” everything it was told about Iraq having massive destructive weapons and typed it into the paper. The NYT assisted in generating enthusiasm for the Iraq invasion, helping kill 5,000 Pindostanis and perhaps one million Iraqis! Media such as the National Enquirer and gossip blogs would just make things up, aliens and Bigfoot and all that, but it was with a wink and everyone knew it was fake and for fun. Then Shazaam! All the media in Pindostan miscalled the election for Clinton while Trump won. Media collectively got a sad. They did not know what to do. Certainly admitting they screwed up was not in the cards, nor was accepting that Trump won and moving on. So, they invented Newer Journalism. It works this way. A reporter, say from the WaPo, calls up someone who works at say, the State Dept, or is called by someone who wants to leak something. It is always bad news about Trump. The reporter types it up word-for-word, and then publishes it to the world as a true thing. In the story the source is anonymous, so no one knows if the reporter spoke to an intern on her third day, or just made it all up. But, and this is important, that doesn’t matter! All that matters is that it is bad news, the more bombastic the better. From there on, other media simply repeat the story. But it gets better, because the next media in line say:
The WaPo reports sources inside the Trump administration say …
This allows some crappy blog to inherit whatever credibility the WaPo still clings to. But, and this is important, that doesn’t matter! Because the article will be saying something readers want to believe, like:
White House policy-making is in disarray! Everyone will resign by Thursday!
Now Thursday will roll around and everyone has not resigned, but, and this is important, that doesn’t matter! The media has moved on to the next story and who the hell goes back and reads last week’s Tweets anyway? Repeat! The way Trump is being covered reminds me of so-called reporting out of North Korea or the Cold War Soviet Union. Reporters claimed they could not reveal their sources, and every tiny scrap of an event was inflated into Deep Meaning. Every story warned of catastrophic consequences to follow that never did. But that’s what Pindostanis wanted to believe about those two countries, and in those days it sold newspapers. So let’s try it. Keep in mind this is entirely made up, especially if you see it reprinted on Rawstory or HuffPo as fact:
Sources inside the State Dept who are otherwise not authorized to speak to the media report that rank-and-file diplomats remain dismayed at the treatment given them by Sec State Rex Tillerson. Many are quietly talking about ways to resist, some even going as far as suggesting mass resignations may occur. Some liken it to a constitutional crisis that could upset an already fragile democracy. The diplomats, many of whom signed the recent letter of dissent over Trump’s Muslim Ban, claim that Tillerson has not held a full staff meeting since taking office, preferring to work only with a tight circle of advisors from the campaign whom he has dubbed the “Trump Centaurians.” These Centaurians have been described as politically motivated, watching Tweets out of the White House for policy guidance. One senior diplomat says:
They have no idea what they are doing! These are people with zero experience inside government, talking down to experienced Russia hands in my office! One of these so-called Centaurians used to work for Ivanka’s clothing line! God help us! She’s now in charge of energy policy across the Mid-East! It is chaos! Pure chaos! Period! Full stop!
In response to Tillerson, State Dept boxtops have begun to slow-walk requests from his office, with some going as far as withholding information for fear it might be shared with the Kremlin. Another seasoned diplomat stated:
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of people go critical and simply start punching each other out one day! I’m hearing the same thing from friends inside the NSC! I’ve never seen it this bad before and it’ll get worse!
See? That took me about ten minutes to crank out. Lunchtime.