Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The fake news problem

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    I've known since childhood that there is a substantial dissonance between the information in the media and reality. My father was in the aviation industry, and would explain to us how almost any story in the newspapers on that subject was anything from inaccurate to deliberately misleading.

    Similarly, pretty much all tech stories I see in the general media display ignorance and sensationalism (particularly if they contain the prefix cyber- anywhere in the text).

    In general, I tend to regard any information not evidenced by my own eyes, by the eyes of somebody I know personally or properly evidenced research as 'for entertainment only'.

    Certainly, the best advice with any sort of situation like the recent quakes or killer clowns is to take the batteries out of your radio and disconnect the internet until the hysteria-loop subsides.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This interesting – and puts into context the claims that if only Bernie Sanders hadn't been done down by Clinton and her evil helpers at the DNC, he'd have waltzed in against Trump. Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek:

    Next, the infamous hack of DNC emails that “proved” the organization had its thumb on the scale for Clinton. Perhaps nothing has been more frustrating for people in the politics business to address, because the conspiracy is based on ignorance.

    Almost every email that set off the “rigged” accusations was from May 2016. (One was in late April; I’ll address that below.) Even in the most ridiculous of dream worlds, Sanders could not have possibly won the nomination after May 3—at that point, he needed 984 more pledged delegates, but there were only 933 available in the remaining contests. And political pros could tell by the delegate math that the race was over on April 19, since a victory would require him to win almost every single delegate after that, something no rational person could believe.

    Bust mostly:

    Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. Yes, there is an explanation for it—a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.

    Then there’s the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills, and that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas, where it could be dumped. You can just see the words “environmental racist” on Republican billboards. And if you can’t, I already did. They were in the Republican opposition research book as a proposal on how to frame the nuclear waste issue.

    Also on the list: Sanders violated campaign finance laws, criticized Clinton for supporting the 1994 crime bill that he voted for, and he voted against the Amber Alert system. His pitch for universal health care would have been used against him too, since it was tried in his home state of Vermont and collapsed due to excessive costs. Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’’ while President Daniel Ortega condemned “state terrorism” by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was “patriotic.”

    The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don’t know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.) In other words, the belief that Sanders would have walked into the White House based on polls taken before anyone really attacked him is a delusion built on a scaffolding of political ignorance.

    And ...

    According to a Western European intelligence source, Russian hackers, using a series of go-betweens, transmitted the DNC emails to WikiLeaks with the intent of having them released on the verge of the Democratic Convention in hopes of sowing chaos. And that’s what happened—just a couple of days before Democrats gathered in Philadelphia, the emails came out, and suddenly the media was loaded with stories about trauma in the party. Crews of Russian propagandists—working through an array of Twitter accounts and websites, started spreading the story that the DNC had stolen the election from Sanders. (An analysis provided to Newsweek by independent internet and computer specialists using a series of algorithms show that this kind of propaganda, using the same words, went from Russian disinformation sources to comment sections on more than 200 sites catering to liberals, conservatives, white supremacists, nutritionists and an amazing assortment of other interest groups.) The fact that the dates of the most controversial emails—May 3, May 4, May 5, May 9, May 16, May 17, May 18, May 21—were after it was impossible for Sanders to win was almost never mentioned, and was certainly ignored by the propagandists trying to sell the “primaries were rigged” narrative.

    And before anyone starts to delegitimise Eichenwald, bear in mind that he's the guy who investigated Enron (and then wrote the book) and who busted a multi-billion fraud against consumers in the insurance industry, among other things. He's had the odd slip-up, but he's a hell of a journalist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But mostly:

    Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook:

    This is probably all true, but ... who can know? Sanders had a genuine palpable anger about where the US is, and a prescription to change things. This wasn't the year facts and old scandals and 'baggage' necessarily destroyed a candidate - however likely that was on past experience.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2084 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    This wasn’t the year facts and old scandals and ‘baggage’ necessarily destroyed a candidate – however likely that was on past experience

    Maaaaaybe ... but it does underline the fact that Sanders basically hadn't been attacked, and regarding polls taken when the only information about him was positive as a guarantee is pretty perilous.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Burleigh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Ouch, assuming I read Global Research, sick burn.

    Weiss is a chicken hawk crying crocodile tears - and he can't write for shit. Journalism is such piss poor career for new comers, unethical writers will go gain experience shilling at NGOs/non-profits/think-tanks. Then they get real jobs at new organisations because they have 'experience' doing 'important work'.

    Fuck, Weiss isn't even the worst.

    Since Nov 2016 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Burleigh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Then there’s the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills

    'Smart'

    Since Nov 2016 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    regarding polls taken when the only information about him was positive as a guarantee is pretty perilous.

    For sure. Might have been is funny territory. Sanders did remarkably and unexpectedly well in Michigan, though - it's possible he'd have done well up there. Not an election where any predictions seem cast iron.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2084 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    The 'fake news' issue is scary. I went through the process of following links and unpicking sources a few times - almost always ending with some tiny morsel of opinion that ballooned into (usually) the most ridiculous attacks on Hillary.
    But pointing it out - even meticulously, piece by piece - just meant I was one of the brainwashed.
    A couple of people must have blocked me on facebook, because the worst offender just disappeared. To be fair, I'd contemplated doing the same to him, but I was genuinely intrigued at what he was believing and promulgating.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2084 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    In general, I tend to regard any information not evidenced by my own eyes, by the eyes of somebody I know personally or properly evidenced research as ‘for entertainment only’.

    Yeah? We know journalism is under great threat - more and more to be done by fewer and fewer people (and resources ...) And mistakes have and will always happen. Similarly, there will always be a few journalists who don't care or take short-cuts.
    We can point to stories where we have detailed knowledge, and see the short-comings and/or outright errors - often unacknowledged. But what percentage of what is in the major outlets is in this category? 10% would be a high estimate - and it leaves 90% more-or-less fair and accurate.
    How have so many people been conned into believing in either a grand MSM conspiracy or some version of 'it's all spin and fabrication anyway so don't believe any of it'?
    It may not be the goal of such disinformation campaigns to spread distrust and uncertainty (far harder to fight, as the tobacco lobby found) rather than actual lies. But it has that pernicious effect.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2084 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    what percentage of what is in the major outlets is in this category?

    In the case of tech journalism, and going back to the print era, I would put it at over 50%, whether it's driven by lack of understanding, sources with an agenda (selling something, often) or desire to create a good story where none exists. I'd say tech is probably about average.

    Financial journalism has been an outlier in terms of actually being accurate - but purely because the professional market pays for accuracy and high end agencies (e.g. Reuters and Bloomberg) competed on that basis, so the 'entertainment' news market had an accurate reference.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    I see there's a massive conspiracy being proposed, backed by shady foreign governments.

    ---

    I did once tend to believe in a few of them, but then, you know. What if Russian nationalist internet trolls are just the same as USian nationalist internet trolls and do very similar stuff in large groups all at the same time because it's the zeitgeist.

    Like gamergate, which was thousands of men who set about harassing female game journalists for a year or more, and it turned out to not be a conspiracy as such, just a bunch of assholes who all happened to believe the same thing (and probably all voted Trump), that women should not be listened to, and a bunch of people got caught up in it to various extents.

    Or like Whaleoil here, who sort of had a massive collection of politicians and political aides and media people at his beck and call but actually was maybe one politician really feeding it and maybe one journalist really driving it as accepted news and that was pretty rare anyway and as far as it went, everyone else was just there at the same time doing some of the same things sometimes, while a lot of other people were highly critical.

    Those things are genuine problems too. Fake news ... well, there's always Fox News, it's not like it has to come from Russia to make USian people stupid about the world at large.

    And there are actual conspiracies. The actual evangelical Christian religious conspiracy in the United States to dumb down science education and "teach the controversy". Or the actual political conspiracy of the Republican party to tell a lot of anti-abortion lies in order to secure that same high-turnout religious vote, because it only hurts women. You've heard of them from first-hand sources, because you always do with real conspiracies. People are proud of that organisational shit.

    When George W. Bush was conspiring to invade Iraq on a bunch of lies, the western media mostly parroted them, but there was also leaks from inside and criticism against and the biggest protests against it ever seen around the world. There's plenty of people still believe Iraq was about WMDs and ISIS is a natural result of Islam, rather than the invasion was a conspiracy of lies and ISIS appeared out of the horrific lack of care shown for the population after it. The real world being more complicated still.

    ---

    So there are massive state conspiracies for wars and stuff. And there are massive numbers of people on the internet sometimes go do the same horrible thing just for kicks without any sort of conspiracy. It seems fair to just accept that if it is profitable to lie to US Republicans for the add money, then a lot of people will totally lie to US Republicans for the add money. Just like Fox News does.

    Also 6 crazy things you'll never believe will help you lose weight overnight. Those are also profitable, and everyone is doing that without conspiring to do that.

    --

    And yes, google does not respect the truth of things, only their popularity, and only then relative to people it considers similar enough to you, thus feeding your preconceived beliefs in a way that makes your happier to buy stuff. TV news is much the same, when you think about it, they'll tell you all week about a grisly double murder but nothing of the thousand other people who died that week, a good few after all too much consumption of the sponsor's products.

    Since Nov 2006 • 602 posts Report Reply

  • Ally Cat, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Hi. I have to agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. I believe the MSM has a LOT to answer for, and by-and-large, has only itself to blame for its lack of "believability."

    I attended a mini-seminar by a PR expert a few years back. He told us that only about 25% of the stories in the printed newspapers were "real" news stories. The rest were simply re-hashed Press Releases (spin articles) put out by vested interests.

    I believe that ratio has very much worsened since then. Now, almost everyone is doing it. The PR guy worked (then) for a large local body and told us that they were doing it back then, and I can confirm that. They even did it internally on a regular basis. I couldn't even get a copy of one such internal publication under the LGOIMA Act. They refused to supply it. Can't remember why, but I happen to know that it had a story about me in it...

    Anyway, what I'm getting to is that now, even the Government does this. Feeds misleading and dishonest spin stories to the lazy media. In New Zealand, the newspaper publishers are in the government's pocket, and just won't publish a lot of stories, because the government will retaliate.

    Thus, it's almost impossible now to tell what is going on out there. Direct observation is not practical!

    So, let's give a couple of examples. I know I'm going to be dissed as a Conspiracy Theorist for this! So be it.

    1: What really caused the crash of the Concorde in Paris in 2000?

    2. The 9/11 World Trade Centre fiasco: Inside job. Deliberate, carefully planned and executed demolition by the Americans. For the purpose of justifying war. You MSM guys: Please name some MSM outlets (ok, even one) which has published anything but the cover story about the terrorists hijacking planes and bringing the towers down that way...

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2016 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to tussock,

    How feasible would it be to fight misinformation with misinformation?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5399 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Ally Cat,

    I Googled "9/11 conspiracy theories". The MSM stories begin on page one, e.g the BBC.

    This took a few seconds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Deborah,

    Hear hear! Radio NZ is part of the MSM, and we've all been relying on it heavily for the past 36 hours or so. And having dealt with Matt Nippert with respect to a few tax stories, I'm very impressed by the way he digs and digs and digs to get information out of government and big business.

    Sure, and I'm going to keep giving full credit where due but I've also literally broken a remote after a full day of Radio NZ (and everyone else) contorting themselves to avoid call Steve Bannon what he obviously is -- the publisher or an apologetic hate site now squatting at the heart of American Government.

    Yes, "fake news" is a terrible thing, but "real" news isn't looking terribly healthy either.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ally Cat,

    What really caused the crash of the Concorde in Paris in 2000?

    Geese!

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ally Cat,

    9/11

    meh #tinfoil
    #next

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Ally Cat, in reply to simon g,

    Yep! Published as "Conspiracy theories".

    Not published as Fact! Nor even as News.

    That is my point, but I guess you didn't "get" that? What MSM outlet came out with the other conspiracy story AS the News, from the outset? And even, now?

    I mean, published the real truth about 9/11, not as a "He said, She said, You decide" 'conspiracy theory' debate. That's not publishing the facts.

    So, which Conspiracy Theory do you prefer to believe, then?

    CT 1: Islamic Terrorists hijacked a couple of commuter planes, flew them into the Towers, and that brought them down (for what purpose?)

    CT 2: God-fearing Americans devised a plan to justify war in the Middle East, and a hypocritical, purposeful "War on Terror", by fabricating a Terrorist Attack on the US via the WTC Towers story. Unknown US authorised Agents then set up the Towers with the necessary explosives, Thermite and/or whatever was else required, and "arranged" for a couple of planes (no doubt unmanned drones) to crash into the Towers. Since the planes would certainly not be sufficient to bring down the Towers (and certainly not in a safe, controlled, vertical drop as happened), the explosives etc were essential, in order to create the desired public indignation (without creating huge destruction in NYC).

    As you'll see, they are both genuine conspiracy theories, so why does the "Official" (Government) one get called the News, and the other (more realistic, more evidence-based one) gets dismissed under the pejorative "conspiracy theory" label?

    Have you actually done any research into the Truth on this question?

    How about Concorde, then?

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2016 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to Ally Cat,

    Because there's a difference between evidence and imaginary evidence.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 304 posts Report Reply

  • Ally Cat, in reply to Sacha,

    I take it you go for the titanium strip on the runway story then?

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2016 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Ally Cat, in reply to Sacha,

    Blessed are the Believers!

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2016 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Ally Cat, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    Precisely!!!

    So, which conspiracy theory is the more evidence based?

    CGI video is the real stuff, hey?

    C'mon, don't duck the question!

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2016 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Ah, "Truth". How revealing.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 473 posts Report Reply

  • Ally Cat,

    Your "quotes", John, not mine.

    How revealing.

    Of what? Please do dazzle us all with your undeniable wisdom.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2016 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Ally Cat,

    How revealing.

    Of what?

    That you're nuttier than squirrel shit.

    Fact fuel can't melt tinfoil beams!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

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