Fake News and the Narrative
Back in 2004, The Boston Globe published, on its front page, sexually graphic images that purported to show U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women. The images were abhorrent and unleashed a torrent of criticism of American soldiers in Iraq.
The only problem was, the photograph was a fake. Then-editor Marty Baron said, "There was a lapse in judgment and procedures." The much touted editorial firewalls and protections for reporting integrity were completely ineffectual. The reason the photograph made it through the editorial safeguards was that those charged with ensuring reporting integrity accepted the photograph as true, because they wanted it to be true. Authentication was unnecessary because the image comported with their view that U.S. soldiers were engaged in acts of barbarism and torture.
Fifteen years later, editorial poor judgment within the mainstream media abounds. In the span of three days, journalists proceeded to surpass their already rock-bottom approval ratings for credibility by abandoning fundamental tenets of journalism, all for the necessary and noble aim of delegitimizing president Trump and his supporters.
Last Thursday, in a routine that has become all too familiar, BuzzFeed breathlessly touted another unexploded "bombshell" report on the Trump-Russian collusion chimera. Talk of impeachment subsequently filled the airways, as gleeful cable TV commentators assured viewers, yet again, that this was finally the coup de grâce that would seal Trump's fate. As if on cue, BuzzFeed's get-Trump story was debunked shortly after it was reported, when Special Counsel Robert Mueller took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement that refuted the report down to its essentials.
Rather than engage in a moment of much needed introspection, the media turned on a dime and rushed to judgment once again, deliberately and maliciously portraying a group of high school students, wearing MAGA hats, as monsters intentionally intimidating and humiliating an elderly American Indian.
These two events, in tandem, demonstrate irrefutably that the media are manifestly biased, incorrigible, and beyond redemption. Journalists now view their role not as objective reporters of the news, but as storytellers. And for the media, what must be told is The Narrative.
An incomplete summary of some of the spurious premises underlying the gospel of The Narrative can be summarized as follows:
- America as an irredeemably racist society.
- Those who voted for Trump are deplorables and shall be treated as such.
- There is a nationwide sexual harassment crisis occurring at the highest levels of corporate America. As such, sensitivity training for all men shall be encouraged. Any man who might have a legitimate objection is a misogynist and not "all that a man can be."
- There is a rape crisis engulfing the nation's colleges and universities. As such, kangaroo courts must be established. Procedures shall favor the allegations of the victim – due process protections for the accused shall be discarded.
- White men cannot accept their diminished role in society because the inexorable rise of the "coalition of the ascendant" is going to knock them from their perch of White Supremacy and oppressive White Privilege.
All political philosophies or social movements, to some extent, contain myths that complement and extend their fundamental first principles – for example, Classical Liberalism's belief that man is essentially "homus economicus" and the fable of Marxism as "scientific" socialism." The Narrative differs substantially from most political ideologies in that it is entirely based on myth; its lifeblood is exploiting or fomenting crises.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, the mainstream media now act as the communications organ for proselytization of The Narrative. Any event that bends that famous "arc of history" in a direction not favored by progressives is to be construed as an aberration, the result of retrograde forces such as fascism or racism.
In light of the countless anti-Trump stories that have been discredited, going forward, news consumers can expect that all reporting shall be in accord with the following Iron Laws for Journalists in the Age of Trump:
- Trump is an irredeemable racist, misogynist, xenophobe, white nationalist, and white supremacist.
- All of Trump's supporters are irredeemable, racists, misogynists, xenophobes, white nationalists, and white supremacists;
- Any and all stories that have the potential of casting Trump-supporters in an unfavorable light will be pursued vigorously without forbearance or restraint.
- Make America Great Again hats are not at all different from swastika armbands or white hoods.
- Those who wear such hats have no business in polite society and will be tarred and feathered and stigmatized, and the sternest measures shall be meted out, with no possibility of mitigation, regardless of the individuals' age or the circumstances surrounding the incident in question.
- When facts and evidence are inconsistent with or conflict with The Narrative, The Narrative always takes precedence.
- There is an irrebuttable presumption that accusations made by members of a "protected" class are true; no verification is needed due to their "victim" status. You must believe.
- Since Trump represents a menace to the Republic, publishing demonstrably false stories is not a vice, but rather a virtue.
In light of the numerous transgressions against longstanding principles of journalism that have occurred since Trump was elected, those hoping for media rehabilitation are going to be sorely disappointed.