January 5, 2017
We’ve entered the era of “fake news” and the mainstream media is surprised they are sometimes cogs in that machine. But perhaps there’s an even worse mechanism at play.
National Review’s David French posits that “‘gullible news’ is a worse problem than fake news.”
“What happens when you combine intense partisan hatred, extreme rhetoric, and standard-fare academic lunacy?” the writer asks before giving headlines like the ones below as examples, written by MSNBC, Vox, Slate, and The Huffington Post:
“North Carolina’s Democracy Ranked on Par with Cuba.”
“Sorry, North Carolina, but You Don’t Really Qualify as a Democracy Anymore.”
“North Carolina’s Status as a Democracy Is Called into Question.”
“Political Scientist: North Carolina ‘Can No Longer Be Classified as a Full Democracy.’”
It sounds like there’s a bit of collusion going on, there.
Of course, as French explains, those are ludicrous statements seeing as North Carolinians voted in the very democratic November elections by the millions. Yet, these news outlets consistently publish “expert research” and “studies” that try and prove how U.S. elections are no different than the ones carried out in tyrannical countries.
This “research” touts laughable results like, over half of the states in the U.S. rank worse — WORSE! — than North Korea.
“Think about that for a moment,” says French. “Mainstream (and extremely popular) journalistic outlets trumpeted a report claiming that Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are less democratic than a nation that maintains gulags where prisoners are either killed, tortured, or starved to the point where they must eat grass, rats, and snakes to survive.”
That begs the question: “In a time when news outlets are allegedly alert to the crisis of fake news, how could they publish such an incandescently stupid assertion?”
Yet, these outlets champion the research simply because some of the organizations are made up of Harvard graduates. But that’s just being “gullible,” says French:
Gullible news is different. Fake news depends on gullible readers. Gullible news exists because of gullible writers…
Gullible news tends to serve and support a dominant media narrative. Gullible news is often supported by “studies.” Those studies tend to be garbage.
According to French, there are a few steps to stop the madness:
For writers, that means trusting nothing and no one — not even ideological allies. Read reports. Examine methodology. Understand and acknowledge your own bias. For readers, that means reaching outside your comfort zone. Read the best writing on the other side. If something seems to confirm your fondest hopes or your darkest fears, immediately look for opposing comment.
Oh, and never forget to add a dash of common sense. If anyone ever tells you that any part of America is worse than North Korea, you don’t need a Harvard degree to know that’s nonsense. You only need a brain.
This article was posted: Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 6:20 am