Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Sound-Bite Society

“Fake news!”

“Fact-check false!”

“Post truth!”

“Alternative facts!”

It doesn’t seem to matter the label, there is a war on what is considered real news. There have been cries that such false news even swayed the election. Facebook and Twitter are making claims of new methods to curb the onslaught. And the bastions of legacy media are madly wringing their hands over threats to their position of being the “Fourth Estate” - a.k.a. “The Protector of the People from Government Overreach”.

Even President Trump recently called CNN “fake news”.

Are we living in an “alternate-truth universe”? Maybe. But I’ll tell you this: this whole thing is the MSM’s (so-called MainStream Media’s) fault. They have performed a Deputy Barney Fife and shot themselves in the foot. Only difference between them and Sheriff Andy Taylor’s number one deputy, was that Barney only had ONE BULLET!

Let me explain.

When you turn on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, or one of the other initialed news networks; or when you see an article from the New York Times, Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, or one of the other print news organizations, you will find yourself exposed to one of two things: news or opinions.

There is a big difference between news and opinions. For starters, when I hear “news” I think that it comes from a journalist, the information and sources have been painstakingly vetted, and that the information being presented consists of facts containing as little bias as humanly possible. Opinion is everything else.

Let’s say you turn on CNN. The person on the screen gives you a headline of something happening in the world. That could very much qualify as news. THEN that person turns to a panel of three guests (a.k.a. “experts”) to discuss that headline. THAT, my dear readers, is NOT news, but opinion. If you add up the amount of broadcast time devoted to providing news versus the amount of time devoted to discussions of the news, you will see that calling the network a news network is very misleading. Actually, there is more time devoted to advertisements than to news.

Now let’s say you open your browser to a news feed, or even go directly to the website of a print news organization. Unless that particular news feed groups the various articles into a section specifically called “Opinion”, you have nothing telling you that what you are reading is actually news or opinion. Oh, you can click on the article, and maybe at the very end of the article it might state that this was an opinion piece, but the majority of people do not read every article they encounter all the way through. Some will read the headline and the small blurb underneath, but most won’t even go that far.

When I see an article that comes from the New York Times, should I automatically assume that what I am being exposed to is legitimate news? The New York Times has both legitimate news AND opinion pieces in the same issue.

We can look at this two ways: either the MSM is incompetent (there is so much content out there that the news and opinion pieces are getting globbed together), or they are intentionally misleading.

Have you ever watched a crime drama where the story goes to trial? Ever hear one of the attorneys make a statement where the other attorney yells, “Objection!” and the judge either says, “Over ruled” or “Sustained”? Sometimes the judge will even say, “Strike that from the record.” Why does this happen? Because that first attorney KNOWS that once that statement is out there, and the jury hears it, it can never be retracted. True or false, they have planted the seed that they hope will produce a crop in their favor.

I think the MSM does the same thing. They bombard us with opinion pieces, with usually a lot of repetition, and when challenged (like President Trump did to CNN) they cry foul: “We are legitimate news organizations and demand said respect.”

As I write this, there is a big brouhaha in my Twitter feed of President Trump initializing a “Muslim Ban”. I turned to a couple of my different news feeds and see more of the same from LEGITIMATE NEWS AGENCIES. Truth? President Trump did NOT initialize a “Muslim Ban”. He initialized a ban on travel to and from seven specific countries. This is for a limited amount of time. JUST LIKE President Obama did in 2011 when he initialized a ban on travel to and from Iraq for a period of six month. No one cried “Muslim Ban” when President Obama did it. There has been so much vitriol from the MSM over President Trump (since even before he was President-Elect Trump) that the sound bites rule the day.

Is there a solution to this? Sure: they could label print articles with “news” or “opinion” at the TOP, and the televised media could display the word “news” or “opinion” during the broadcasts. IF they produce something labeled “news” that turns out to be “opinion”, they should be punished accordingly (for instance, libel and slander laws would apply instead of hiding behind a blanket of “freedom of the press” - just like the rest of us).

Or they could simply change their name to something more appropriate, like “My Humble But Accurate Opinion”.

©Emittravel 2017

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