Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How News Becomes Bad (It's All About Clicks)

A dumb headline was introduced to the internet today, but because it's clickbait, every whore of a media outlet ran it. It involves false accusations, politics, and quotes taken out of context. And surprise, it's about Trump.

The Washington Post headline proclaimed that "Trump says Obama is helping to organize protests against his presidency." So did Fox, CNN, et. al. And of course he did. That's the narrative, so I believe it. Trump whines, lies, blames, and obfuscates - he doesn't fix. Of course he blamed Obama for the protests. 

Except, he didn't. And no one cared to point out that Trump didn't go on tv intending to blame Obama for inciting protests. Even though he didn't.

Trump isn't without blame here, but it was clearly Fox New's fault. Trump went on Fox and Friends this morning (AKA, the network's morning trio of hackery), and one of the hacks (I'm not going to bother learning the guy's name) floated that Obama's organization (and thus, the former President) was behind the large crowds at Congressional town halls. Hack #3 then goes on to talk about how it's not fair because all Presidents agree not to attack their replacements once they leave office.

At this point a reasonable person just shuts down the hack by saying they haven't heard that, but we need to squelch these rumors unless we have evidence; saying things for the sake of blaming our problems on the other side only hurts our democracy. Of course Trump doesn't - he just nods his head and agrees because he's incapable of resisting the power of suggestion. And that's a major failing on his part. But the headline there is "Trump Fails to Correct Accusations that Hacks at Fox Made Against Obama." Problem is, that doesn't have the same ring as "Trump Blames Obama." So rather than point to the source of the initial problem (Fox and Friends), CNN gins up a different but more intriguing problem guaranteed to get more clicks. And that's how the media loses credibility among a disenchanted independent.

I don't blame a guy for trying to make a buck. But that doesn't mean I won't judge him for how that buck is made. 

Edit: also in the news today: mass hysteria because KellyAnne Conway sat on a couch. I'm not even joking. This actually happened. Jon Stewart used to call Fox the fake outrage machine - I think Salon.com is trying to claim that mantle now.

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