If you have a truth or a fact, be able to assert it with evidence. If not, admit it’s something else, something less; hearsay, or, as many media people like to say “from reliable sources”, or mere opinion.
Of course, we know a percentage of writers, especially in media, cannot bring themselves to do that, and now have reached that inevitable vanishing point where almost no one believes them anymore. The fact that they are oblivious to the fact that most, not some, but most of their “factual offerings” couldn’t get past the first, “Your honor, I object.” in front of a judge. in a courtroom. Both Law and Science are supported by rules of evidence, but modern media long ago left that boat docked at the harbor.
We now know there are no “reliable sources” in government, not because they aren’t saying the truth, but because we can no longer afford to believe them at face-value. They are too often wrong, or intentionally misstated. For people to continue to take them at face value is survival endangering. The recent election has granted the people, via a new government, a second chance…if, in Ben Franklin’s words, “we can keep it.” It’s entirely a survival mechanism, the survival of the many versus the survival of the few.
The succession of failed Marxist and totalitarian regimes the past century provides ample proof that civil societies cannot long survive if their founding principles and operating rules are based on lies.
Part of the social contract between the roughly 50% of the people who elected Donald Trump in November and the new government he will put into place will be based on the notion that facts and evidence have to once again rise to preeminence in public discourse.
So get ready, for this sort of political regimen is outside the Left’s universe and they will contest fact’s and evidence’s place in our daily affairs with all their arts.
This contest places America’s media, at every level, in a precarious position, for their power and prominence the past 50 years has largely been at the expense of an accumulated credibility that no longer exists. Their only road back seems to be to make some accommodation with the Truth just to stay in business and to regain lost credibility, if only cynically, just to stay in business, since today for the new ruling voting population, that credibility stands at near zero.
This is the Media’s crossroads.
But it is also our culture’s crossroads, for, as we have seen in the lead-up to the Electoral College vote where grown educated and professional adults, have behaved as 10 year-olds in the toy aisle at Walmart, throwing tantrums demanding a change to part of the Constitution with almost dictatorial speed (which, if possible, then why bother with process?), even demanding that Mr Trump’s daughter deplane from a commercial flight because she doesn’t belong there. Even 70-year old renowned legal scholars will publicly grasp at straws to derail this democratic return of the nation to its owners…channeling delusions that probably run back to those halcyon college days in the 1960s.
Item: Facebook has announced that it will enlist the services of internet fact-checkers to flag disputed purveyors of false news, enlisting the assistance of Politifact, Snopes, ABC News and others to certify the veracity of various questioned news stories.
If this sounds a little bass-ackwards, it is.
First crack out of the bat some people are asking, “Who’s going to fact-check the fact-checkers?” In the 50:50 world of fact and truth where truth itself is supposed to be subject to the political process, this is to be expected, since the New York Times, ABC News, even Snopes in some quarters, and Facebook in others, are all considered by many to have exhibited biases in their support of prominent Truth Benders (False News). The Washington Post is now owned by the owner of Amazon (Jeff Bezos) who has cut a $600/m deal with the CIA for cloud services, while Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire and strong open borders proponent, has a major share of the NYT.
Based on credibility alone, it would seem that such fact-checkers might appear to be talking for the benefit of their own choir and no one else.
Facebook’s has rules for moderation about “hate speech” and they are so convoluted as to be undecipherable even for trial lawyers, yet are placed in the hands of minimum wage, I assume very young and unworldly, moderators who have no real context to judge, witness this review by Heatstreet. A poor attempt at creating the image of political correctness.
Most of the winning 50% of American voters wouldn’t believe them on a bet.
So why this great effort? In all likelihood it’s to give the appearance of clean hands, and the ability to shunt off on darker forces at lower levels of news distribution the reputation as purveyors of false news.
As a remedial business model, it won’t work.
A woman I never heard of, Julia Iofe, apparently employed by Politico.com (because she was subsequently fired by them) made a worse-than crude comment on Twitter about Ivanka Trump’s staying on in the White House to fill in for Melania for a few months, to wit; that Donald was either having sex with his daughter or committing an egregious kind of nepotism. The salacious grossness of this comment was made more damning in that it also pointed out Ms Iofe’s absolute ignorance about the laws of nepotism. What it did magnify though was the hobbling down even of left-wing depravity, comparing the 90s, when Ms Iofe was still a teen, when certain kinds of women were fantasizing about having sex with the then-occupant of the White House, Bill Clinton, to modern women who seem more inclined to believe it possible the next occupant might be banging his daughter.
I noticed that Ms Iofe had 77 retweets and 158 likes on Twitter, so was not surprised, as I made my daily rounds through the news blogs, that several women (I assume) mentioned, predictably, that Mr Trump, in totally unrelated stories, is indeed having sex with his daughter, not as rumor, but as fact. This is how Fake News, Fake Innuendo, Fake Slander, nourishes the bottom feeders. It is not an unintentional by-product of the news’ creators.
The issue here isn’t politically biases, then, but rather accountability for one’s own acts and words. Willful and wanton indifference, I think it’s called in various legal jurisdictions.
So for purveyors of Fake News, from the NYT to Julia Iofe, protecting their credibility is no longer an issue here. It’s way too late for that. That ship has sailed. Getting it back is, and that is a much dicier proposition altogether.
The only thing that can overcome the dis-believability of everything America’s news writers say, on either side of the coin, from primary sources at NYT and ABC, for instance, to secondary, pass-through sources at Salon, Politico, the Hill, National Review and Daily Caller, down to little dirty Tweets by the likes of Ms Iofe, who I assume will snatch (no pun intended) another writing job very quickly…a practice which I think should be ended…is to 1) be ready, willing and able to provide sources for information, or alternately 2) state their iterations of “facts” as what they most likely are; hearsay from second or third hand sources…Rumor…or opinion.
The biggest casualty of the Russian hacking-to-steal-the-election-for-Trump narrative has been the total decimation of credibility of that fake news’ sponsoring institutions, such as NYT and ABC, i.e., major media, since that same 50% of the electorate who elected Trump without the help of the Russians is now moving into power with a clear agenda to end this love affair with the “damned lie” (Mark Twain). Whoever they (the media) will be addressing over the coming year, it won’t be those voters as they have their own sources for facts. And by 2018, if Trump is able to carry out even half his plans, that number will no longer be 50:50 but more like 60:40 (reflecting the actual state count in the electoral college). No one will care what they think in Los Angeles County or the Big Apple.
All politics going forward then will be based on this new tilt between the rational and the disoriented. Liberalism, as it was once known, will fall back into the lower third of American society, as a quaint affectation of fairies and fairy dust.
For the businesses and careers known as the media, then, their only salvation will be credibility, which, much as we learned about “sincerity” in the corporate world in the 80s, can only be faked so long. A new competition is already emerging in media along these lines, and will go on at least through this Trump years. Some media will only double their efforts to derail Trump, but to a diminishing audience, and diminishing revenues. Where they will bottom out will be anyone’s guess, but I suspect the potty-mouths will find themselves shouting their soliloquies in an almost empty well. Many sites and writers will die on the vine, relegated to the “whatever happened to so-and-so?” back page of current history. The surviving MSM will have had to win back its credibility spurs in order to be part of that new reality.
If you can be credible and be leftist, go for it, but you will have to play by new rules, actually old rules restated, based on rules of evidence you long ago discarded.
So, instead of censorship, let the market decide.
Even Snopes, even when it was considered to be more lily-white than it is today, is still a lazy man’s research vehicle. They should stop short of True or False findings and simply lay out the facts, or more often, circumstantial evidence, and include the sources, especially for political news sources, and let people decide. That way, left wingers who go to Huffington Post will agree with their truths their statement of “facts” one day, while conservatives may another. Debates outside of Snopes about Snopes and the resulting market reaction will determine Snopes’ credibility.
As stated earlier, the election itself has set the boundaries of those two bodies of over-arching competing truths. If conservatism’s truths are the more powerful in argument and in political reality, the market will shift. HuffPo will lose audience, while others will gain.
But the big winner could be old “Wagon Train” reruns, since Nature plays a role and seeks its own equilibrium, which is generally away from political over-involvement. The entire media business model is in trying to take an enterprise whose natural position is in the less-than 5% category of human affairs and turn itself into a 25% minority share-holder. Nature abhors unnatural gerrymandering. The majority of voters look for a stabilizing quietude, not political noise. A fair haven from the din.
So, let the market decide by holding writers and commenters alike to a standard of responsibility. Conservatives believe that a sense of predictability and regularity in peoples’ lives will lead them away toward less, not more political participations and angst, and generally more localized, such as local schools and taxes. (It’s always been that way.) This is what we call the original conservatism of the people, as the Founders envisioned it to be. (Many conservatives pundits have lost their way in this regard, for reasons already stated.)
Donald Trump’s years will be measured by how much he has been able to restore this ancient sense of stability.
If he is successful, regardless of who gets the credit, it will show up in the marketplace of news, for fewer people, over time, will be interested in what either HuffPo or Daily Caller have to say, and will instead be reading the “Local Thuderstorm” about events down at the city hall and the school district.
This is how it should be.