OPINION — Joseph Sobran once famously observed that we never had to talk about “safe sex” in the days when sex really was safe because it was confined to marriage.
Likewise, the phrase “fake news” was entirely unnecessary when our mass media placed greater value on objectivity over ideologically-driven sensationalism. We’re fast approaching that moment when we must choose whether it’s better to be uninformed or misinformed.
Of all the divisions separating America today, the information divide is becoming one of the most apparent.
It is most evident in the sneering condescension and contempt with which much of the press corps covers the current presidential administration. Last week, several of the nation’s most influential news outlets, including CNN, MSNBC and CBS, breathlessly hyped a bombshell email that would be the smoking gun showing collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The email purportedly offered Donald Trump Jr. a decryption key and access to leaked DNC emails that Wikileaks possessed. What made this so irresistible to these major news outlets as well as many commentators and pundits was that the email was said to have been dated a full 10 days before Wikileaks started promoting access to the emails online.
In the minds of the thoroughly hostile press corps, this would have proven that the Trump campaign was being offered special access to the DNC emails ahead of the rest of the world.
The excitement in the voices of the news anchors and commentators is unmistakable as they speculate how this could be the death blow to Trump’s presidency. However, this particular example of “gotcha” journalism turned out to be false since the email was actually dated well after the leaked DNC emails were made public.
How did these major news outlets correct their error? Reluctantly and quietly without a shred of regret or a molecule of transparency as to how so many members of the so-called “real news” could have made the exact same mistake in getting the email date wrong.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald does a phenomenal job of documenting and outlining the growing list of false or misleading Trump/Russian stories that the American press has touted and then had to retract, correct or walk back the original claims.
Naked media bias against Trump and his supporters has been clearly on display since the 2016 campaign.
The American press was shocked and humiliated by Trump’s surprising victory in the general election. All their scary predictions and negative press failed to dissuade voters who were sick and tired of being lectured and scolded by the smug inhabitants of the establishment echo chamber.
Rather than acknowledging their ideological disconnect with large swaths of the American voting public, the political press has instead doubled down on the idea that the savages in flyover country need a more concentrated dose of their sophisticated tutelage.
Is it any wonder that public trust in the mass media is in decline?
Closer to home, that lack of trust in the self-styled “legitimate” media can be seen in the information divide that has emerged in the trial of Cliven Bundy, his sons and a handful of supporters currently underway in Las Vegas.
NPR recently bemoaned that “parallel universes” were emerging in which established news outlets reporting on the case are being upstaged by Bundy family supporters using social media. The narrative is no longer subject to the control or approval of the official gatekeepers of information.
Individuals like John Lamb and social media outlets like Who’s Next are just a couple of numerous sources providing daily live video updates from the trial, complete with the ability to go directly to the source. They provide the people following the trial with enough accuracy and timeliness that even mainstream outlets are beginning to seek out and quote them.
The chief difference between these grassroots correspondents and many of their mass media counterparts is that only the self-styled “legitimate” press is still pretending to be unbiased.
This isn’t to say that the mainstream media is lying in their reporting about the Bundy trial. It simply acknowledges that the narrative they provide is too often incomplete or is sensationalized for the sake of increased clicks or ratings.
Interested bystanders can form a better understanding of what’s happening in the trial by accessing numerous sources that provide a more complete picture than the major press is giving them. Best of all, the immediacy of social media allows this information to be updated as needed without having to wait for press deadlines or regularly scheduled broadcasts.
Viewers and readers still must exercise their own judgement and due diligence in vetting the information they’re given, but that’s something we all should be doing in the first place.
If we’re serious about taking ownership of our worldview, it’s up to each of us to begin by becoming propaganda proof. Technology is making that easier by the day.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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