WASHINGTON, May 3, 2017 — Our mainstream press is beside itself as President Donald Trump continues waging a successful war on the credibility of the nation’s crumbling legacy media.
Although Hillary Clinton now blames FBI Director James Comey and WikiLeaks for her humiliating 2016 electoral loss, Mrs. Clinton blamed a different culprit last December:
“The epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year – it’s now clear the so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” Clinton said in a speech delivered on Capitol Hill.
That started a frenzy of reporting on the subject. In an interview with the New York Times, Emerson College Professor Paul Mihailidis explained the power of fake news when spread through the mechanism of social media:
“Citizens engage with like-minded views more and more, and they feel secure in posting their thoughts and having a lot of reinforcement. This election was very heated, and citizens in these networks felt empowered to participate. That participation became more than simply a self-affirmation of things. It became designing and sharing things that they didn’t really care were credible.”
In other words, citizens bypassed traditional media in much larger numbers in 2016 to talk among themselves in an effort to divine the truth.
The following is what they would have seen and heard if traditional media was their only source of information and analysis:
- Last July, CBS News reported, “Hillary Clinton has widened her lead significantly over Donald Trump since the period before the two parties held their conventions last month.”
- Last September, the folks at Vanity Fair noted, “There are a number of reasons why Clinton supporters should remain confident in their candidate. The former secretary of state remains in the lead in the electoral college projections, even if her lead has slipped.”
- Then, on election day, with a graphic atop the page showing Hillary Clinton with an 85 percent probability of winning the White House, the New York Times’ Josh Katz wrote, “Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 37-yard field goal.”
But like the trusting and awkward Charlie Brown, the football was pulled away from Hillary Clinton at the moment she attempted her N.F.L. field goal, her forward momentum forcing her off her feet… and on her rump.
Clinton is more than justified in laying her defeat at the doorstep of “fake news” than to blame FBI Director James Comey, WikiLeaks or phantom Russian hackers.
Her mistake was falling into the fake news trap Professor Paul Mihailidis described to the Times.
Mrs. Clinton was so “engaged” with the “like-minded views” of an adoring and supporting press she felt overly “secure… having a lot of reinforcement.” And this symbiotic Clinton-media relationship “became more than simply a self-affirmation of things. It became designing and sharing things that they didn’t really care were credible.”
Recently, CNN refused to run what the New York Times called a “re-election” campaign ad in praise of President Trump’s first 100 days.
“CNN said it would run the 30-second television spot… only if the campaign removed a section that featured the words ‘fake news’ superimposed over several TV journalists, including Wolf Blitzer of CNN and others from MSNBC, PBS, ABC and CBS,” said the Times.
But the legacy media cannot stop the ad from making the rounds, uncensored, on the web.
Supreme Court Justice Louise Brandeis famously said,
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Mainstream media purveyors of fake news would much rather have “enforced silence” than be schooled on their “falsehood and fallacies.”
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