This Week in the Narrative: Fake News and Bad Crooks
I used to live in a town in which the Mayor was so overtly corrupt, he had a statue of the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ monkeys outside of his office.
His criminality and ability to avoid punishment became something of a running storyline, with seemingly each week a new account of shell companies, pay to play, no-bid contracts, and other such debauchery.
Among the most fabled stories was when a commission was called to investigate a particularly shady deal the mayor had allegedly been a part of. One of the mayor’s former confidants was asked to testify and the public waited with baited breath to see what type of secrets might be revealed. On the day of his testimony the man walked into the hearing, sat down, and raised his hand to his chin, exposing on his wrist a brand-new gold and diamond studded Rolex. The man would smirk his way though “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” and the mayor would again avert comeuppance.
The thing is, despite public disapproval towards his criminality, the mayor actually became quite well-liked, even respected, because he was just so damn good at it.
The lesson: Regardless of the industry, you can earn validity through simply being exceptional at what you do.
If you are going to be a crook, be a good crook.
“I have become a hack”
The 2016 election may be remembered as ‘The WikiLeaks Election’; not only for Hillary Clinton, but also, crucially, for the mainstream media.
Longstanding suspicions of media bias were proven to go nowhere near far enough. Rather it was revealed that the mainstream media is to journalism what late night infomercials are to the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Among the WikiLeaks reveals was the ‘Benenson dinner,’ an early strategy and coordination session between the Hillary Clinton campaign and representatives from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and others, in which everyone was brought onto the same page regarding “framing the HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] message and framing the race.”
There were print journalists collaborating with the Clinton campaign on pieces, such as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who co-wrote “The Ten Plagues of Trump” with the campaign, and Politico’s Glenn Thrush, who elucidated the situation most succinctly, and hilariously, when he emailed the campaign, “Because I have become a hack I will send the whole section that pertains to you. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this.”
And, of course, there were the polls, in the end, about as real as a three dollar bill. Major networks conducted polls shown to be based on “recommended oversamples” of “key districts/regions” and “ethnic groups” by the Clinton campaign in order to “maximize what we can get out of our media polling.”
Again and again, the public was treated to documentation of the mainstream media functioning not as the ‘Fourth Estate,’ but as an advertising arm of a political elite.
Perhaps there can be some level of understanding though.
Like selling your soul to the devil for a golden fiddle, the mainstream media would sell their integrity. Their golden fiddle would be a golden ticket into Hillary’s inner circle.
The Situation Room
And then Hillary lost.
If there is anything worse than selling your soul for a golden fiddle, it is selling your soul then finding out the devil isn’t in charge anymore.
As the stunning results came in on election night, the gaunt, greenish-hued face of Wolf Blitzer, the tears of Rachel Maddow and Van Jones, the panic of Nate Silver, all revealed the same reality for each. Not only would they be left without integrity or credibility, but without even their promised golden fiddles.
Not only were they crooks, they were bad crooks.
“The breathing, the panting, the moaning, the SCREAMING”
The next morning, the sun came up and the discredited and disgraced mainstream media were back on television pushing new lies as if the public was expected to believe them.
They spoke of Donald Trump’s victory being a “whitelash” against President Obama, despite the fact Trump greatly outperformed Mitt Romney in African-American voters, Latinos, Asians, young people (18–29), people making under $100,000 per year, and people without a college education. They encouraged the public to reject the results of a democratic election, pushing a ‘save democracy by rejecting it’ narrative that would incite violence.
Most frighteningly, this week they introduced the narrative of “fake news” — a more delicate version of the conversation started by the Hillary Clinton campaign as to which media organizations have a “right to exist.”
Personally, I would propose that election polls based on rigged methodology be considered “fake.” I would suggest pieces written and/or edited by a political campaign and presented as news commentary would be, in the realm of journalism, “fake.” Calling the votes of millions of people of color and other marginalized Americans “whitelash” — also “fake.”
Yet, now the proposition is that the discredited purveyors of misinformation are to be the ones to decide what is real and what is fake, to have bestowed upon them the ability to challenge the “right to exist” of anything conflicting with their documented fabrications.
Censorship is not only ‘deplorable,’ but quite literally illegal. The hilarity, and tragedy, of the situation is that those who now seek control over the enterprise of censorship have shown themselves not only to be crooks, but not particularly good crooks at that.