That’s false equivalence.
Sara Lynn Michener
11

First of all, as I mentioned in another comment, I certainly did not intend to convey that I believe those institutions always get it right. I would have thought that was obvious.

I didn’t say you said that. Of course nobody always gets it right.

The egregiousness of Trent’s piece (and a few others that were equally alarming) tells me that Medium clearly has zero internal methods for basic fact checking those political stories they choose to promote. Just because institutions with standards and oversight get some things wrong sometimes, or fails to meet more philosophical standards (a contradiction if ever there was one) that you mentioned in favor of functional standards (which should absolutely be its goal), does not translate to therefore everything is subjective and we can’t trust “mainstream media” but we can trust everything else.

Literally hundreds of thousands of people died in the Iraq War. The New York Times was complicit in manufacturing consent for that war. I did not use the words ‘subjective’ or ‘objective,’ but did refer to Herman and Chomsky using the term ‘biased.’

And Medium is absolutely “beating the drum for war by recommending an article from someone like Trent Lapinski” because everything Trent wrote suggests he gets his news from the gutters of the internet, like the 1,000 Russian trolls who were paid to malign Clinton’s reputation from scratch. If Russia fought to keep Clinton out of the White House in favor of the wars Putin wants, then yes, Medium is beating the war drum. The fact that it is doing it innocently makes it worse, not better.

It’s a fact that the Iraq War claimed thousands of lives. It’s a fact that the New York Times implicitly endorsed this war by way of its journalistic choices (and failures). It is not a fact, based on anything you have cited thus far, that Trent Lapinski has endorsed war. It is speculation that Trump will go to war and that Trump’s administration would be bloodier for Syria, for example, than a hypothetical Clinton administration would be. We will never know the answer to that question.

I am not well-versed in the works of Lapinski, despite having gotten into an argument with him here at Medium, myself. If, in fact, he is out there manufacturing consent for a Trump war effort, I’d be interested to know about it.

Your own citations prove my point. If the NYT does it (while actively trying not to), Noam Chomsky writes about it. If a thousand techbros do it (while deluded that truth magically comes to them naturally without doing the work), historians will point to a few examples of that delusion as a few of many countless examples of independent writing gone awry, but without the accountability that Chomsky directly calls out the NYT over. If you’re important enough to be called out by other important sources, I’m less worried about you. Whereas when I first read Trentbro’s piece, I waited, flabbergasted, for someone qualified to set him straight. Then I realized we don’t have any institutions that go after each individual fish polluting small ponds. We have plenty that describe the general problem, but Trentbro simply isn’t important enough to get factchecked, and therein lies the problem, and why it is the responsibility of the pond, to call him out.

But, Manufacturing Consent was written in 1988. The Iraq War started in 2003. Why are you less worried about the New York Times in the wake of a catastrophic failing like that? Why do you think Chomsky somehow checked them? He didn’t, and the bias to which I referred earlier existed 15 years after his critique, and still exists, doing tremendous damage to people all over the globe. And, that’s just it: all sources are biased, but not all biases are equivalent. The New York Times has a particularly deleterious bias when it comes to the average world citizen. I don’t know what Lapinski’s bias is, but, regardless of how odious he may or may not be, it doesn’t give the Times a pass.

Anyway, it’s good that you’re here fact checking for us. We obviously can’t rely on Medium to do it anymore than we can rely on the Times. We cannot rely on corporate institutions to do anything except for what is best for themselves — that is their fundamental purpose as entities. At least in the case of Medium we can write something in response to a piece of BS. Good luck ever getting published criticizing the Times in the Times. I realize that happens, but it’s a long shot for any given individual; with Medium, you’re basically 100% to get published.