“Unbiased” media

I have been following much of the commentariat in the fallout of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Typical Conservative sites accept the result as a victory of due process, while the opposite side of aisle holds the result as proof of the vile system they have so vehemently opposed.

One thing has been raised, and it’s a topic that I often discuss here, is the role of the media in proceedings. From what I have observed, the media’s reporting has been accepting of the allegations toward Kavanaugh, seeming to condemn the new Justice without criticism of the claims.

However, the counter to my concern is that the media’s reporting has been impartial, carefully using language to ensure that the articles make no certain conclusions.

And for this claim, there is a point. However, it does miss the modus operandi I observe in the media, and it’s one that has affected me personally. The media may report the facts, but there is always an underlying drama that is quite often heavily implied.

A news outlet will report the facts, but that is only secondary to how the article makes you feel.

Whenever covering matters of Government, the media knows that what draws attention is the idea of malfeasance on part of the powers. It’s one thing to say where a Government might have erred, but if the media can indirectly imply malice on part of the error, then all the better. Moreover, if the media can further imply potential corruption – for example, that their policies seek to enrich a buddy or vested interest – then that’s a further whammy on the media drum.

But let’s talk about portrayal for a moment, because it lends to this implicit bias theory. Look at this article from Australian News Corp outlet, news.com.au.

I haven’t regarded the text in this article so much, because I am sure that nothing is written that could be construed as libellous, but note the photographs selected, particularly those of Justice Kavanaugh and Doctor Ford. The former has a look of aggression or even guilt, while the latter is either sad or noble.

Remember also that in the wake of the testimony, Kavanaugh admitted to still enjoying beer, while also passionately decrying the allegations, and for that he was painted as someone with anger and alcohol issues.

This is propaganda. Simply put.

While the words might be balanced, it’s the whole picture that can frame how the audience feels about the topic. A story might cover its rear with careful words, don’t be blind by what they’re trying to make you think.

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The Democrat Judgement game

The ongoing saga of the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, at the time of writing, is now being drawn out for another agonising week while the United States achingly waddles to the mid-term elections. The process of confirming Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court must now be subject to another FBI probe to check on 36-year old allegations of sexual assault.

I have read and heard reams of commentary that focusses upon the veracity of the claim being made by the alleged victim, a matter that appears to be the fulcrum of the issue, where the weights of “Believe Victims” and “Due Process” fight over the prominent heights. I do not wish to weigh into this aspect of the debate, however choosing to focus upon the behaviours observed by the interested parties.

I have written before about the current tactic of using issues as ammunition, and I think it fair to raise it again here. Because it appears here that Democrats, in waiting until the 11th hour to raise the matter of Kavanaugh’s alleged malfeasance, has sought to deploy and weaponise the #MeToo movement – not for genuine justice, but for their own gain.

And like the previous issue of DACA recipients, I fully expect Democrats to completely discard the alleged victim, Doctor Christine Blasey Ford, the moment her political fuel has been spent.

Dr Ford is just as much a victim of this process as anyone else who is in this crosshairs – particularly that of Kavanaugh, and his family, who at this point seem to be guilty only of having been nominated to the Supreme Court.

To repeat the timeline, Senator Dianne Feinstein received advice from Dr Ford in July 2018 about the alleged incident with Judge Kavanaugh in 1982. Since then, Feinstein had not referred the matter to the FBI, had not discussed the matter with her Democrat colleagues, had not questioned Kavanaugh during any hearings on the matter, and only saw fit to finally reveal her hand in the final week of deliberations of Kavanaugh’s appointment.

And let’s not forget to mention that Feinstein has denied leaking Dr Ford’s identity to the press, an assertion that clangs as hollow as an empty tin.

Does her sitting on the allegation for literally weeks sound like the behaviour of someone who was genuinely concerned about victims of assault? That Feinstein deployed the allegation at the last possible moment in order to delay Kavanaugh’s certain confirmation sounds only of political gamesmanship – the aim being to delay filling the seat on the Supreme Court until after the mid-term elections, after which Democrats hope to obtain control of the Senate, and keep the seat unoccupied until after the next General Election.

And by using their media – all of whom cannot claim any kind of impartiality at this point in time – will attempt to oust Trump.

This is the lowest of the low. To use someone’s pain for political gain is the absolute gutter level of politics of which I would have hoped that any civil society dispensed ages ago. As much of the debate centre’s on whether the incident occurred in 1982 as per Dr Ford’s recollection, it is the sheer cynicism on display from the Democrats.

I find it incredibly difficult to believe that Democrats care for victims of sexual assault when they only elect to address the matter at a time that is most politically beneficial. And, with the media in tow, they lambast the accused for daring to deny the allegation with the passion of someone who might have felt just a little but slighted at having their name besmirched by an allegation only.

This is the Democrats – and their media lackeys – pulling out all the stops to prevent the Supreme Court seat from being occupied. However, as I have mentioned before, the tactics they employ today are the tactics they must welcome in return. If anyone accuses one of their party of improper or criminal behaviour, the victim simply must be believed on the allegation alone, with no corroborating evidence. To not is simply hypocrisy.

But when you have the media running defence for your party, Democratic bold hypocrisy is not a surprise.

Now, it must be also mentioned that Republicans stymied the appointment of Judge Merrick Garland during the last nine months of Obama’s presidency. Was this political gamesmanship, with Republicans holding up the process for their own political gain? Undoubtedly. They had control and they used their power to prevent someone from a lifelong Supreme Court appointment.

But their reasoning was that, according to the Wikipedia entry, they:

“… would not consider any nominee put forth by Obama, and that a Supreme Court nomination should be left to the next President of the United States.”

There is currently no precedent in place to say when or whenever a President should be able to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. The rationale here could be considered dirty and dishonest, and I would certainly agree with the sentiment. However, Merrick Garland did not have to face down serious allegations of a crime that would serve to sully his name, and muddy his entire career for actions he (allegedly) performed while in High School.

Disagree with Republicans on their rationale with Garland, sure. It was dirty, but at least the reasoning was perhaps worthy of debate. But if the counter from the Democrats is to unearth decades-old (alleged) felonies, and ruin the name of an entire family and a life-long public servant because they were nominated, then I am not on board.

This is rich people laughing, and to not recognise the giant temper tantrum that the Democrat party is throwing is sheer unadulterated blindness. The willingness to destroy someone for the simple act of being promoted is the kind of psychopathic coldness that needs to leave politics. It is as vicious as it is open and naked, for all to see.

Mid-terms are going to be interesting, at least in terms of whether the public are seeing the cold, naked viciousness that I am seeing.

The headline versus the story

I often find that there can be a disparity between what a headline says, and what the contents are within the story. In some cases, this is referred to as “burying the lede”, in where the headline information is either burying deep within a distant paragraph, or in some cases, including information that refutes the headline as a castaway sentence.

However, there is this other thing I find in where a story’s headline seems to be secondary to the actual story that is important. Take, for instance, the recent address by United States President Donald Trump to the UN General Assembly, in where he was openly laughed at.

If you were to read the headline, you’d sigh and resign yourself to the known fact that Trump is a buffoon and has somehow, yet again, self-flagellated on the world stage. The story itself is littered with descriptions of how the world seemingly mocked him, along with Reactions From Twitter that reinforced this notion.

But, there are some aspects to his speech that warrant some discussion, and even would suggest that he didn’t completely muff the entire thing up. Please note that I write this as someone who actually hasn’t viewed the President’s routine in front of the UN, and the story I linked certainly doesn’t compel me to watch.

Consider some excerpts posted in the article:

He also talked up his administration’s relationship with North Korea and its progress towards denuclearisation.

“I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps that he’s taken — though more work remains to be done,” Mr Trump said, noting existing “sanctions will remain in place until denuclearisation occurs.”

So, aside from acknowledging a despot, isn’t the continued pressure to denuclearise the Korean peninsula a good thing?

Mr Trump declared that the “bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out of the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria,” and he called for a “political solution” in the latter country that reflects “the will of the Syrian people.”

Seeing as the insurgence of ISIS is what created the refugee crisis with people fleeing Syria, isn’t progress to nullify the influence of the known terror group another success? Certainly refugees fleeing would like to see that their homeland has loosened the grip of the problem that caused their initial flee in the first place?

And he delivered a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying the United States “will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.”

Right, so we mock someone who is stating that there are severe repercussions for, you know, perpetrating a war crime?

Mr Trump said he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take a “hard look” at US foreign assistance, saying that the US is the world’s largest donor of foreign aid “but few give anything to us.”

He said the review will examine what is working and what is not working and whether countries that receive US aid “have our interests at heart.”

Didn’t Trump go to an election on a platform of “America First”? Look back a decade, and I distinctly remember much tut-tutting over a United States that considered itself a World Police, and meddling in affairs of other sovereign nations, yet now we laugh because the President wants to be insular?

But no, let’s publish the intellectual waste that gets posted on Twitter and call that news.

Twitter being snarky is not news. In fact, it is such a passe notion, I’m surprised it ever get reported at all. But I guess having major news sources pull quotes from Twitter only serves to fuel Twitter users into trying to make the snarkiest snark and the belly-aching gotcha.

I’m sure I’ve said it before on this blog, but the media really need to step up their game. they need to do better. the issues, it appears, are being missed in favour of entertainment. If the media don’t want to be seen as untrustworthy hacks, then perhaps they’d better try being a little more trustworthy, rather than reporting tweets.

Because, at the moment, I’m pretty sure if a nuclear holocaust suddenly broke out, the news would report that Twitter collectively pointed at the bombs and lolled.

A theory on Big Bang Theory

This isn’t really something I initially felt compelled to comment on, because the story seemed relatively benign; a long-running TV show is coming to an end, and is doing so on top. But this opinion piece at news.com.au prompted me to write a response.

The column contends that detractors of the Big Bang Theory sitcom largely have things wrong and that criticism of the show is misguided. The thrust of the argument seems to be that it has given rise to nerd culture, and that it proves an inspiration to people to show an interest in science.

The article also outlines that:

… viewers now realise nerds can be funny and charming and not just locker stuffing.

The last part of that sentence being rather glaring – in that it doesn’t denounce the bullying of stuffing nerds into lockers, and rather seems to “normalise” it.

The reason that I care not for Big Bang Theory’s demise is that the brief watches I did have of the show didn’t celebrate nerd culture as much as it made it the butt of jokes. The characters were playing Dungeons and Dragons, and that was the joke. They were passionate about comic books, and that was the joke. Sheldon did something socially awkward, and that was the joke.

Big Bang Theory was not so much a celebration of nerd culture as much as it was the gentrification of it. It seemed cynical. The pastimes of nerds was distilled down to cliche and stereotype, and then served in a milquetoast beverage for people to consume. This lead to dilettantes to move into the space that nerds had long received bullying for pursuing, and then have them dominate proceedings.

Star Wars, for instance, was that nerdy movie franchise with the very dedicated fan base. Now it’s akin to a religion, with nigh on everyone excited for the next episode on the franchise. It is almost creepy.

Comic books are being transformed into mainstream blockbusters, rather than being a niche product for a passionate audience.

It could be argued that this is something that should be celebrated, as it brings greater prominence to something that needed it, but I would counter that, like any gentrification, that kind of flourishing robs any culture of the genuine heart, soul and character that had given it the charm, and it replaces it with a thin veneer that satisfies enough to stave off complaints, and remains – ultimately – profitable.

Big Bang Theory, from my observation, was an initial breaking of dirt of the gentrification of nerd culture. It has brought much success to the culture, and has introduced new people to something they might have dismissed (or stuffed nerds into lockers over), but it has seemingly left behind those initial customers who had given it the culture to begin with.

I don’t care to rate the humour of BBT, as comedy is subjective. I don’t care about how it introduces science to people – anyone with an enthusiasm for science will get into it anyway, and I would guess that anyone who obtained an interest in science from BBT would soon abandon it for being too boring.

But BBT has left an indelible mark on nerd culture, and it seems to have been administered in a largely cynical way. I understand that capitalism relies upon presenting a product that people want, but to appropriate nerd culture in a way that seems to mock its core is the kind of offensive that I would have though more people would understand.

But nerds are still just locker stuffing, right?

Barred from research

I have written previously on the mob mentality, and have each time lamented how peoples’ errors should not mean that their livelihood is attacked. It is a sentiment that I stand by, but probably warrants clarification in the wake of Roseanne Barr’s bafflingly idiotic joke at Valerie Jarrett’s expense.

After looking up who exactly Valerie Jarrett is, it revealed the shockingly poor taste of said joke, and it is something that cannot simply be defended. It was something which ABC, Barr’s employer, needed to immediately address considering Barr’s profile and the apparent success of her show’s reappearance.

The cancellation of her show was clearly something that Barr’s employer felt was too hot to deal with, and ABC was within their right to distance themselves from her and her “joke”. I feel in this case, it was an employer acting quickly, rather than it being a result of a widespread campaign on the internet to pressure employers to let Barr go.

Therein lies the difference between my stance on online twitter mobs and the Roseanne case.

Barr, it seems, doesn’t seem to be taking the dismissal lying down, after her odd excuses fell flat and did nothing to redeem herself in the eyes of the audience. However, there are a couple things I do find strange, and it may require a couple posts to address the many issues.

Firstly, let’s look at Roseanne’s tweet:

In this tweet, Barr claims to have been an activist for fairness in the US. Okay, fair enough. A claim warrants investigation. However, let’s look at internet search results for “Roseanne Barr activism” to see if we can get any information on her claims. This is what I got:

It would seem that the only information that immediately comes to hand is news covering the recent events, and “Celebrities, activists and co-stars react to ‘Roseanne’ news”. There’s a bizarre repeating of the same headline here. Looking on, I began to search the second page of search results:

Holy cow, there’s a remarkable lot of parallel thinking along these myriad websites. How very, very odd that everyone seems to be repeating the same headline, over and over.

I don’t profess to understand why and how this kind of thing happens, but the result of what I am seeing is what goes beyond oddity and into Orwellian territory.

When news comes out that smears someone, particularly someone who has been saying things that align with “the bad side” or played a character on television who aligned with “the bad side”, then that news is posted again and again, so that all the possible noise you can find reinforces what story that someone, somewhere wants the people to know.

I don’t know whether all these outlets follow the same headlines because that’s what the SEO algorithm uses to garner clicks, or whether there’s a concerted effort to ensure only one story is told, but the result, to me, is as scary as glowing shit.

For now, it seems, we are at war with Roseanne, and we have always been at war with her.

The Activist Journalist

The media have truly lost their way. This is not a new revelation on my part, because I have long loathed the media way before the phrase “fake news” was birthed out the mouth of a failed presidential candidate. Yes, I am a media-hater-hipster.

There’s always the sensationalism. There’s always the reinforcement of Mean World Syndrome despite us living in one of the most peaceful times in this planet’s history. There’s even clickbait. These things are only incidental to the recent rise of the most heinous of creatures to ever proclaim themselves a “vital part of a democracy”.

The activist journalist.

The activist journalist does not seek to report the facts, trusting their audience to take information from their story and then formulate their own understanding of the world. No, the activist journalist holds no high regard for their audience. The activist journalist must tell the audience what to think. Don’t you know? It’s not enough to provide the story from which the dear reader can walk away feeling informed. No, it is the activist journalist’s role – nay duty – to tell you how you think, or how other faceless people think.

Oh, to think that they feel that lecturing people is the best way to convince them. It clearly worked on them during the years they spent at the Sunday School their parents forced them to attend.

This past week saw a number of photos circulated of the atrocious conditions that children of unlawful immigrants must endure. Activist journalists posted the images far and wide, condemning the US administration for the horrific turmoil inflicted upon the innocent.

Except the photos were from the Obama-era Administration.

Activist journalists, upon realising the “mistake”, quickly deleted tweets, and offered weak platitudes to minimise the story.

This is why activist journalists are a problem. If they were truly about the craft of journalism, and wanted to be true agents of good in a democracy, the photos would not need to be removed and explained away. Why?

Because the photos could have lead to more important questions to be asked. Questions such as, “Is this still occurring?”

Because that is far more important than who was at the helm during the time that the atrocities did occur.

The paving-over of the story because it paints the activist journalist’s preferred team in a bad light reveals the truly dark side of the activist journalist. For all the noise they would make about childrens’ suffering, the deletion of the tweets and photos shows that they actually do not care about these childrens’ suffering.

They only cared when they thought it politically beneficial to care. They only care about lives when they can leverage said lives and use them to forward their cause.

That is not what I want from an industry that is apparently a cornerstone of a good democracy. That is truly evil; an evil that would use lives of children to promote their team before they discard them to the wastebin of history, forever forgotten.

This is why media is currently a blight, and needs a strong clean out, preferably with the coarsest of brooms that leaves a groove in the dirt so deep that no future journalist would want to ever be associated with such cynical, callous and truly despicable practises.

Casey Neistat Network

Some could read Casey Neistat’s recent announcement of establishing his own news feed with cynicism. The more amused among people could consider that the Casey News Network shares the same initials as that other bastion of “fake news” CNN, which is only further entrenched when we consider that CNN has a fairly hefty stake in the venture (I understand).

The aim of the venture, Neistat claims, is to provide:

“raw, unfiltered, unedited newsfeeds. Delivering that without context strips away the noise. It leaves you with exactly what’s taking place.”

As others have pointed out, there is also this extra word which adds a question mark or two (bolding mine).

Neistat and his team are now developing a journalist-curated app

This naturally has people wondering about the honesty of Neistat’s aims, but until we see the end product, many should probably reserve judgement. Well, except me, of course. Because I’m going to render judgement right now.

I’m not an avid watcher of Youtube, and I don’t profess to being knowledgeable on the personalities who flood the platform. When I frequent forums, I see people talking about these personalities of whom I have never seen before with the fervour of fans and analysts. But, there is something about Neistat’s meteoric rise to prominence that gives me reason for pause.

The first thought is, “The dude comes from money” which is a fairly cynical conclusion to make, I know. However whenever I read about him, the articles just scream of a copywriter using emotive language to sprinkle bullshit over somebody’s body of work. I mean take the opening line of this article:

For Casey Neistat, life is all about motion.

The line just screams of someone trying to make something more than what it truly is. I think to myself, “Who is backing this guy?” but then I see that he’s basically a selfie-ing billboard, and it kinda makes sense.

However, I simply cannot go past his hyper-partisan video about voting for Hillary Clinton.

 

To me this is the greatest red flag over any concerns about his claims to be making contextless, unedited news feeds. Regardless of the results of the election, when you consider this video, and the body of work he has of being some kind of commercial to anyone with a chequebook, I do not have any faith in Neistat’s supposed impartiality.

Not to play the two personalities against each other (as I understand they know each other and get along alright), but I would have far greater faith in Phillip DeFranco’s news venture, which is launching. DeFranco has been an internet personality for over a decade now, and has built up his channel over a greater period of time, which I would think means that he is more genuine.

Considering his most recent videos have been critical and supportive of both sides of politics, this too lends him far more credibility than Neistat. He is also far more reserved in his judgements of situations, pausing briefly before flying off the handle, which would suggest that he’s not wed to any particular cause and willing to jump at any opportunity to smear the opposition.

Many may disagree with my beliefs – and fair enough – but I have far greater faith with someone who has done the hard yards over a longer period of time, suffering through the low points where they might have questioned whether their work was worth it, and coming out on top. Neistat – to me – doesn’t appear to have ever had such experiences with developing his audience.

I feel that his lot is one of money, whereas DeFranco’s is one of work.

I’ll be watching with interest. My money is on DeFranco’s venture. I think Neistat undid himself when he locked hips with Clinton and CNN. He is compromised, and I am wary of any claims to impartiality that Neistat might make.