On this past Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, host Brian Stelter took a minute to talk to his audience, ostensibly to warn them, about the infectious spread of “fake news” and fake news websites that have permeated the web this election season, specifically “right wing” sites that the media and the Clinton campaign have attributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss. What the spread of fake news across social media platforms has to do with Hillary Clinton ignoring the state of Wisconsin is a mystery.
There are rumblings among Facebook employees that the platform must do more to curb what its users post on their private and public walls. Mark Zuckerberg, in attempt to quell this nonsense, released a lengthy post regarding what content is shared on the platform, which was rejected by a core group of employees who have formed a “task force” on their own in spite of their CEO’s stated position.
In his monologue on Sunday, Stelter examined the rise of “anti-media,” what he described as right-wing blogs, Fox News, and Breitbart, selling “conspiracy theory masquerading as facts.” There is certainly some truth to the axiom that outlets on the right do present a point of view.
But Stelter’s monologue was also an opinionated point of view. Stelter then cited Andrew Golis of Vox explaining that “Facebook feeds into this sense of unreality” for its users, and declared “The truth is not in a bubble.”
Stelter is citing an editor from a website that once claimed there was a bridge connecting the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Israel, that milk only came from pregnant cows, described the far-left Syriza party in Greece as “far right,” and once suggested that households in Boulder Colorado had 102 toilets per household. Deadspin covered these an many other screw-ups in a lengthy piece titled “46 times Vox Totally Fucked Up a Story.”
On this same show where Stelter was warning and lecturing about the dangers of spreading fake news on social media, he also invited Dan Rather to talk about the need for a reliable press. Seriously? Dan Rather, the former news anchor who lost his job for presenting forged documents as fact, was on a show titled “Reliable Sources,” lecturing us about the need for a “vibrant press” with “a spine.”
And herein lies the problem of why our country is divided against media like CNN.
I’m not trying to harp on Stelter personally, but this talk of fake news, social media, and how it affected the outcome of a national election is ludicrous, to the point of subversively endorsing censorship. This is an opinionated (progressive) view point, the very thing Stelter warns on a regular basis. There is no data or factual information to suggest stories from, say, Gateway Pundit, or Breitbart cost Hillary Clinton the election.
“The viral spread of fake news” is simply what mainstream outlets are using to forfeit their own responsibility for this election. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and so on, all thought their job for eight years was to protect Barack Obama from scandal. Politico’s Glenn Thrush even marveled on Twitter at how scandal free Obama’s second term was.
These are the same journalist professionals who shared clip after clip of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and the The Colbert Report, satirical news shows geared toward a progressive audience. Reporters could not get enough of sharing or embedding clips of Jon Stewart DESTROYING, EVISCERATING, and ANNIHILATING Republican politicians and using the popularity of this fake comedy news to harvest clicks for ad revenue. Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee all deceptively edit interviews and present only information that supports their worldview, the exact thing Stelter warns about.
So what changed?
Suddenly CNN and the New York Times, among others, are having a “Come to Jesus” moment about the need for an honest and robust media to keep the executive branch in check for the next four years. But it’s precisely their behavior throughout Obama’s presidency that nurtured this attitude of apathy.
When people decided they could no longer turn to mainstream media for what was factually true, and not ideologically biased, they turned to other sources of entertainment. And Alex Jones, at the very least, is way more entertaining than Wolf Blitzer. If anything, this election should have shown those in mainstream network media that this isn’t just simple bias anymore. They simply don’t care what they have to say.
Perhaps instead of winking about the need to censor Facebook postings, Stelter and others in the media should look inward at their own sources if they want to gain the trust of their audience again, an audience that voted against them this election, as much as they voted against Hillary Clinton.
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