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Thread: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

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    Default Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    David Sirota hits it out of the park with this piece

    Quote Originally Posted by David Sirota
    Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem
    The largest media outlets are platforming con artists, skewing the news, and immersing the country in a flood of lies.


    David SirotaFeb 9, 2022


    “Misinformation” is all the rage these days — it’s the topic du jour. Polls suggest we all agree that it’s a problem, and lately liberals appear most mad at it — but seemingly only at certain kinds of misinformation that originate outside the corporate media sphere.

    Notably, the ire is rarely directed at a corporate media machine that systematically rewards and praises the purveyors of misleading propaganda, and continues to flood the country with information sewage.

    This selective outrage is a huge problem — because the only way to systematically combat misinformation is to construct a Fourth Estate that develops some trust with the audience. That trust will never be rebuilt if liberals pretend to hate misinformation while they patronize a media establishment that fortifies the pathologies that originally created a credibility crisis.

    Consider the past week of media news, while the Joe Rogan controversy dominated headlines:

    • NBC News hired Stephen Hayes, one of the key architects of Iraq War misinformation, to serve as a political analyst across all of its properties amid a media drumbeat for a war with Russia. Despite Hayes publishing the seminal book amplifying one of the most egregious lies of the Iraq debacle, NBC’s Chuck Todd lauded him as “a principled reporter and analyst who always puts truth and facts above emotion and sentiment.” Meanwhile, CNN just hired another Iraq War proponent, right-wing propagandist Jonah Goldberg.
    • Speaking of CNN, its employees effusively praised their network’s recently deposed president, Jeff Zucker, even after Zucker oversaw the lionization of Andrew Cuomo while the New York governor was shielding his health care industry donors from legal consequences amid a massacre of nursing home residents. Rolling Stone reported that one source said Zucker was personally involved in engineering the Cuomo promotion — and even helped write talking points for the governor.
    • Corporate media began touting a comeback for Cuomo and his brother, Chris, with no mention of the nursing home catastrophe, as if nothing bad happened over the last two years.
    • An MSNBC-platformed Washington newsletter blasted out propaganda touting Kroger’s “great pay and benefits” — even as thousands of its employees are struggling to afford basic necessities, and even as the grocery chain bankrolls lobbying groups working to kill union rights legislation.
    • The New York Times told its readers that President Joe Biden’s “big climate goals depend on Congress” — somehow not mentioning that they also depend on Biden, who has been using his executive authority to expand drilling at a faster pace than President Donald Trump.
    • Less than two years after the New York Times told its readers that 100,000 pandemic deaths under Trump was “incalculable,” the newspaper has now decided that 900,000 deaths is now a ho-hum story that Americans are bored with. "Though deaths are still mounting, the threat from the virus is moving, for now, farther into the background of daily life for many Americans,” the paper wrote.
    • MSNBC aired an interview with a New York Times columnist blaming inflation on workers getting COVID relief money, rather than on corporations using their monopoly power to fleece consumers with higher prices that then fund giant executive pay packages and shareholder dividends.
    • Obviously, multiple wrongs don’t make a right. Rogan platforming public health nonsense and environmental misinformation — and using racial slurs — is not somehow absolved by corporate media concurrently immersing the world in an ocean of self-serving bullshit. His behavior is bad on its own merits. Full stop.



    But corporate media doesn’t get to lie the country into a war and a financial crisis, continue enriching right-wing fabulists, offer up news literally “presented by” corporate villains, and then pretend that a podcaster is the singular source of misinformation. And it sure as hell doesn’t get to feign surprise when after decades of lies, almost nobody ends up trusting corporate media about anything.

    Despite crocodile tears about “free speech,” none of the central players in the hullabaloo are heroes or victims — they are all making a mint off selling controversy, garbage, and fake outrage. And it’s hardly a surprise that the loudest of them screaming about censorship have had little to say about the most pervasive censorship of all: corporate media’s near-complete erasure of economic and anti-corruption reporting that might offend business sponsors.

    The real victim here is the general public.


    We need a Fourth Estate that does not reward peddlers of the most outrageous lies — like, say, a Saddam-Al Qaeda “connection” — with prominent gigs.

    We need television networks whose anchors don’t run out onto the airwaves to defend top brass amid reports that they helped politicians and political operatives effectively cover up a public health disaster.

    And we need an information infrastructure that preferences accurate, verifiable, and indisputable facts so that the public can make informed decisions.

    We don’t have much of that right now, in part because political tribalism has taught audiences to selectively love and hate misinformation based on whether it comes from “their” team.

    Many liberals love monikers like “believe science” and see themselves as dispassionate protectors of the truth. But let’s be clear: If you’re a liberal who purports to hate misinformation but also cheers on Liz Cheney or Bill Kristol or some other war propagandist as a beacon of integrity just because you see them defending Democrats or bashing Donald Trump on your favorite TV network, then you don’t actually hate misinformation — you just happen to like your misinformation colored blue (even if that misinformation was previously colored neocon red).

    Likewise, if you are a Rogan fan or a Fox News maven who purports to want the “real truth” while you cheer him or Tucker Carlson peddling climate denial and vaccine misinformation, then you don’t actually care about truth at all.

    And if you’re in corporate media and think it’s OK for your news outlet to routinely skew and cover up the crimes of politicians and business, then you’re not actually interested in journalism’s mission to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

    The difference between “media” and actual journalism is the root of the misinformation crisis. We’re drowning in content that is increasingly valued only for its potency in the political wars, rather than judged on its factual merits and its choice of targets. That kind of media content strays farther and farther from reality because it’s about entertaining and inflaming rather than educating and informing.

    The answer to misinformation, then, is not some censorship regime, and it’s not more intense fan culture around individual media icons so that everything is a self-enriching culture war between cable TV pundits and Spotify hosts.

    The answer is an audience that actually values accurate and necessary information, even if it offends their preconceived notions — an audience that runs away from corporate media outlets that force-feed them lies and liars, and runs toward news organizations that report hard truths.

    That’s the kind of news organization we’re working to build here. And we know it’s going to take a long time to build a true independent and trustworthy Fourth Estate in the wreckage of a corporate media landscape, where the flames of bullshit smolder and suffocate the discourse.

    But that’s the only way forward.
    Last edited by dneal; February 12th, 2022 at 07:59 PM.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    As I noted in a different thread, this "culture war" and inability to engage in civil discussion or debate appears to have started with Trump and covid. The polarization and tribalism is insane at this point.

    It amazes me the ease with which one dismisses one piece of information simply because of where it came from, and then genuinely offer the political opposite but equally partisan view as the "true" news.

    There is something wrong with the world when Russell Brand is more objective and makes more sense than Tucker Carlson or Don Lemon, the NYT or NY Post, or whatever dichotomy of "news" one wants to use as an example.

    An entertaining review of the David Sirota piece cited in the OP.

    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Modern people, unacquainted with history, tend to make assumptions that something happening now has never happened before. Nothing presented above is anything new under the sun. As the Apostle Paul said 2000 years ago, a time will come when people will no longer want sound doctrine, but will seek out teachers who tickle their ears with information they want to hear. New outlets would cease if no one watched or read their stories.

    Businesses and politics need each other to exist. I would prefer this to a state owned/ controlled business culture. There is no more corrupt setting than that.

    Folks have always been in clans of one type or another.

    That said, if one wants to know the truth, the truth can be found. And one cannot be afraid if the truth is something they don't want to hear. A bigger problem is to assume we know each other enough to come to judgement of them because our perspective is so limited.

    For me, the Times expands my knowledge of many perspectives in the same way a history book informs me about things I would never consider otherwise. When I hear anyone pine for the good old days I remember my grandfather saying, "the good old days weren't that good".
    Last edited by Chuck Naill; February 13th, 2022 at 07:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Just because it's happened before doesn't mean it's a good thing or that it shouldn't be addressed. A more salient point about being acquainted with history is Santayana's "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. Smedly Butler wrote a book about business and politics, and leveraging military power on behalf of business (see: "War is a Racket" about his experience with the banana wars). "Yellow Journalism" is a term for a reason.

    Today's problem is the access and availability of information, and there's no historical precedent. "You can't stop the signal" (it'll be curious to see who gets that reference... ). Polarization, tribalism and distrust are at dangerous levels. Orwell wrote a book about this. Dismiss it as "this is nothing new" at your peril.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    I have spent years on forums discussing topics with people who don't agree with me. It makes me think.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    So have I. I'm not sure what that has to do with the topic.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    kazoolaw (February 18th, 2023)

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    You could have asked why they went felt it was relevant.

    I tools your first two posts as a complaint. Is this accurate?

    I read and listen broadly not to get marching orders, but to here differing opinions which may come to cause me to realize it’s okay to be in separate camps.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Certainly, after the election of 2020, Fox news corp was a big part of a national disinformation campaign, even when they knew it was lies. Recent documents reveal private correspondence behind the scenes of Fox between major players and owner Murdoch (etc). They privately mocked those fraud conspiracy theorists peddling lies but then publicly fanned conspiracy flames to bolster the brand to not lose more viewers to Newsmax (etc).

    More details here: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/16/media...nts/index.html

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    "The hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as others at the company, repeatedly insulted and mocked Trump advisers, including Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, in text messages with each other in the weeks after the election, according to a legal filing on Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox for defamation in a case that poses considerable financial and reputational risk for the country’s most-watched cable news network.

    “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” Mr. Carlson wrote to Ms. Ingraham on Nov. 18, 2020.

    Ms. Ingraham responded: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.”

    Mr. Carlson continued, “Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” he added, making clear that he did not."

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/16/b...n-lawsuit.html
    “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    I agree with nearly all of this: Commentary on the purpose and implications of broadcasting falsehoods to one's own audience in the guise of truth:

    Why Fox News Lied to Its Viewers
    The Atlantic
    By Adam Serwer


    Fox News lies to its viewers. Its most prominent personalities, among the most influential in the industry, tell their viewers things they know not to be true. This is not accusation, allegation, or supposition. Today, we know it to be fact.

    Early in the Trump era, news organizations were torn over whether to refer to Donald Trump’s false statements as lies, because it is difficult to know an individual’s state of mind, to know what they know. In the throes of insecurity, ideological conviction, or carelessness, people can make statements that are false without malicious intent. The argument over what a person knows to be true or false can take on a metaphysical aspect.

    Sometimes, though, you have proof that someone knew one thing and said another. With Fox News, examples of the network’s commitment to knowingly misleading its viewers abound. There was the irresponsible hyping of anti-vaccine propaganda even as it imposed a vaccine mandate on its employees. There were the text messages from Fox hosts released by the January 6 committee showing that they saw Trump as responsible for inspiring the mob that sacked the Capitol, even as they defended him on air and downplayed the significance of the event.

    Sometimes, defending itself in court, the network will argue that a reasonable person would not assume that everything its on-air personalities say are true. In 2020, the network successfully beat a defamation lawsuit by arguing that Tucker Carlson is “not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’”
    The most compelling example of Fox News consciously lying to its viewers, however, arrived yesterday with the evidence in the defamation lawsuits filed by the voting-machine company Dominion, over claims aired on Fox News echoing Trump’s lie that the 2020 election had been fixed by compromised voting machines. Dominion’s latest filing argues that privately, Fox News hosts admitted that the allegations of election fraud being floated by Trump allies were baseless, but they kept airing them, in part because they feared that another right-wing network, Newsmax, was stealing their audience. The filing shows that when Fox News reporters shot down the allegations publicly, the network’s big personalities were livid, complaining internally that telling their viewers the truth was hurting the network’s brand. “It’s remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things,” the Fox News executive Bill Sammon wrote to a colleague about the network’s coverage of the “fraud” conspiracy.

    Fox News’s lawyers have responded by arguing that they were merely covering newsworthy allegations; a spokesperson dismissed the revelations in the Dominion filing as “cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context” to The New York Times. “Freedom of speech and freedom of the press would be illusory if the prevailing side in a public controversy could sue the press for giving a forum to the losing side,” the lawyers said in a filing.

    This is true, as far as it goes. But internally, the messages in Dominion’s filing suggest that network officials knew they were exercising editorial judgment that would lead their audience to see the fictitious election-fraud allegations as not simply newsworthy, but legitimate, which they properly understood to be irresponsible.

    The Dominion filing drives home a few points. One is that there is a Fox News propaganda feedback loop: The network inflames right-wing conspiracism, but it also bows to it out of partisan commitment and commercial incentive. Another is that despite the long-standing right-wing argument that conservatives distrust mainstream media outlets because they do not tell the truth, Fox News executives and personalities understand that their own network loses traction with its audience when it fails to tell the lies that the audience wishes to hear. There are infinite examples of the mainstream press making errors of omission, fact, or framing. But as the private communications in the Dominion filing show, the mainstream media’s unforgivable sin with this constituency is not lying, but failing to consistently lie the way conservative audiences want them to.

    Looking at these internal messages however, the confident, implacable cynicism on the right about how mainstream media outlets work is easier to understand. It is a reflection of how some of their own media institutions function, combined with an assumption that everyone else operates in a similarly amoral way.

    Internally, Carlson referred to Sidney Powell, the attorney who was spreading the false fraud allegations, as a “complete nut,” while the Fox News host Sean Hannity said in a deposition that the “whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second.” But Carlson and Hannity also demanded that the Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich be fired after she fact-checked one of Trump’s tweets spreading the false election-fraud claims about Dominion, with one Fox executive fretting that viewers would be “disgusted.” The offending tweet was deleted. In another email, a different Fox executive feared that what he called “conspiratorial reporting” at Newsmax “might be exactly what the disgruntled FNC viewer is looking for,” later warning, “Do not ever give viewers a reason to turn us off. Every topic and guest must perform.”
    There is also a story here about how social media and analytics can compel even powerful media institutions to meet a strong demand for falsehoods. Fox News executives understood that the election-fraud allegations were nonsense, and they also understood that their audience wanted to hear them. Misinformation and propaganda are not novel problems, but modern technology renders the incentives to lie to an audience particularly clear, and the means to reach that audience particularly easy to access. There will always be a potentially profitable demand for self-flattering lies; ethical people and institutions resist supplying them. The ability of individual hustlers to amass an audience of sycophants by feeding them conspiracies puts pressure on more mainstream outlets to gently appease conspiracism, if not to fully capitulate to it.

    Finally, if Fox News beats this lawsuit, it will be because of the very free-speech protections that the conservative movement has spent years railing against. The appropriately high “actual malice” legal standard, which holds that only statements about public figures that are knowingly false or show a reckless disregard for the truth are actionable, has protected public criticism of powerful figures for decades. Right-wing legal elites, including several Supreme Court justices, would like to destroy this standard, which would enable the rich and powerful to more easily silence criticism of their conduct.

    The network may ultimately prevail; that’s what all those fancy lawyers get paid for. But if consciously lying to your audience about election fraud in order to keep them watching your network doesn’t meet the standard for actual malice, it’s difficult to imagine what a powerful media company could do that would. And even if Fox News ultimately loses the Dominion lawsuit, I would not expect its audience to abandon it. After all, the network remains willing to tell them what they know to be true—even if it isn’t.



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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    The decision in the Dominion suit against Fox and News Corp. has the potential to change the conduct of the public media considerably. Gonzalez vs. Google, being argued in the US Supreme Court with a focus on the Section 230 liability shield for media companies as far as the content of the user-created posts they display, could shift the boundaries still farther. But I imagine the cowardly corporate captives on the court won't dare to rule against the multi-zillion dollar media outfits: Google, Meta, YouTube, Twitter, et al.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Fox News reportedly imposes ‘soft ban’ on Donald Trump

    The former president has not made a weekday showing on the channel since appearing on Sean Hannity’s show in September

    Ed Pilkington

    Fri 3 Mar 2023

    Fox News has imposed a “soft ban” on Donald Trump appearing on the channel, his inner circle is reportedly complaining, even as the broadcaster extends a warm invitation to other Republican hopefuls in next year’s presidential election.

    The news startup Semafor reports that the cooling of relations between the former president and his once-beloved cable news channel has gone so far that a “soft ban” or “silent ban” is now holding Trump at arm’s length. The former US president has not made a weekday showing on Fox News since he chatted with his closest friend among the network’s star hosts, Sean Hannity, in September.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are currently frequent guests on Fox. Media Matters for America, a watchdog that keeps a close eye on the network’s output, has counted seven weekday appearances by the former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley since she launched her presidential bid last month. Even the lesser known right-wing activist and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who threw his hat into the ring last week, has appeared four times on Fox. Florida’s rightwing governor, Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to compete with Trump though he has yet to declare, is also repeatedly seen on the network.

    Semafor said it based its story on information supplied by four members of Trump’s circle. It quoted an unnamed individual “close to Trump” saying: “Everyone knows that there’s this ‘soft ban’ or ‘silent ban’. It’s certainly – however you want to say, quiet ban, soft ban, whatever it is – indicative of how the Murdochs feel about Trump in this particular moment.”

    The Guardian asked Fox News to confirm or deny the existence of such a ban, but did not immediately receive a reply.

    The undeniable tailing off of Trump’s exposure on Fox comes at a tense moment for the network, which is battling a $1.6bn lawsuit from the voting machines company Dominion. The suit claims that Fox News Network, with the complicit approval of its parent company Fox Corp, allowed wild defamatory conspiracy theories to proliferate on its platform, falsely accusing Dominion machines of stealing the 2020 presidential election from Trump by flipping votes from him to Joe Biden.

    In excerpts of a deposition given in the case by Rupert Murdoch in January, the owner and chair of Fox Corp admitted that he knew that several Fox hosts were endorsing lies about the election being stolen from Trump yet he chose not to stop them. Legal and media experts have suggested that the admission places Murdoch’s empire in considerable legal and financial peril.

    During Trump’s rise to the White House in 2015-16, and his ensuing years in office, he was virtually inseparable from Fox News. He regularly made impromptu calls into his favourite shows, and in the single year 2019 posted 657 tweets responding to content aired by the channel or its sister outlet Fox Business.

    In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 election, Fox hosts were permitted to continue broadcasting lies about massive voter fraud. But since the stolen election campaign reached its nadir on 6 January 2021, with the insurrection at the US Capitol, followed later that year by the lodging of lawsuits by Dominion and another voting machine company, Fox has gradually backed away.

    In turn, Trump has increasingly vented his anger towards his former media friend. This week he posted a rant on his social media platform Truth Social in which he accused Murdoch himself of peddling “fake news” after the Fox chief was revealed to have said in a deposition that he did not believe the stolen election lie from the beginning.

    “If Rupert Murdoch honestly believes that the presidential election of 2020, despite massive amounts of proof to the contrary, was not rigged & stolen, then he & his group of Maga hating globalist Rinos [Republicans in name only] should get out of the news business as soon as possible,” Trump said.

    There is no evidence that the election was rigged, as numerous top officials, including Trump’s own former US attorney general Bill Barr, have attested.


    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...e_iOSApp_Other

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem


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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    One of the most damning elements of the January 6 fiasco for the news media already came out: the degree to which Fox personalities had personal access to the phones of top administration persons and were giving leadership advice.

    I've never heard of such a thing between media and any presidential administration before. I can't imagine that this was ever done to this kind of degree (advice to a chief of staff???) between Clinton, Obama, or Biden with any news network. But maybe I am wrong.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Fox News was the propaganda arm of the Trump administration. The gift of the security cam videos to Tucker Carlson by House speaker Kevin McCarthy is the most recent evidence of the unholy alliance.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    True, that was some quid pro quo.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Wouldn't surprise me if Carlson hires scumbag video fakers from Project Veritas or the like to "edit" the material.

    Spin City.

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Well, well. Not surprised to see them at Fox turning on each other now. The stakes are mounting.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fox-n...-morning-email

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    Default Re: Corporate Media Is The Misinformation Problem

    Banks are collapsing, but corporate media tells you to pay attention to gossip at Fox.

    Point proven.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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