Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trump, Fake News and the Mainstream Media

From Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept: a rundown of bogus stories that mainstream media outlets have run about Donald Trump. Those include:
  • A CNN story about a supposed Congressional investigation of a link between Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund.
  • Another CNN story claiming that James Comey, in testimony before Congress, was going to contradict Trump’s claim that Comey assured the President he was not being investigated by the FBI.
  • A Washington Post story, based on anonymous sources, that Russian hackers had hacked into the “U.S. electricity grid,” supposedly through a Vermont utility.
  • Another Washington Post article about a supposed 213 million times that stories emanating from a Russian “disinformation campaign” had been viewed by American readers. The source was a shadowy group of self-appointed experts who had compiled a McCarthyite blacklist of sites that supposedly published Russian propaganda. The story had to be retracted.
  • Liberal website Slate published an article claiming the discovery of a secret server used by the Trump Organization to communicate with a Russian bank.
  • C-SPAN made a splash when it claimed that “RT programming” had interrupted its broadcasts. Since RT is owned by the Russian government, this played into the Russian narrative, but it was untrue.
  • The leftist Guardian published a story asserting that WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, had “long had a close relationship with the Putin regime.”
  • A bogus claim from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike that Russian Military Intelligence had hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers was hyped by multiple outlets.
Greenwald notes:
WHAT IS MOST notable about these episodes is that they all go in the same direction: hyping and exaggerating the threat posed by the Kremlin. All media outlets will make mistakes; that is to be expected. But when all of the “mistakes” are devoted to the same rhetorical theme, and when they all end up advancing the same narrative goal, it seems clear that they are not the byproduct of mere garden-variety journalistic mistakes.
Greenwald goes on to discuss business incentives to hype Russia, which are most certainly real.

What he does not give sufficient attention is ideological bias.

Donald Trump and Fake News

That the media have a bias against Trump is blatantly obvious. What is less commented on is that Trump’s attacks on the “lying media” may be self-fulfilling assertions.

The media, chafing under those charges, appear to be itching to get back at Trump by implicating him in some nefarious conspiracy with Russia. Journalistic standards go by the board.

There is a lot wrong with Donald Trump as president, but he has one huge political asset: he drives his political adversaries utterly bonkers. He has gone far in discrediting his mainstream media enemies. And not because people simply believe Trump when he calls them liars, but because during Trump’s presidency they have published a lot of lies.

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