REPORTERS SPREAD ANOTHER FALSEHOOD ON SOCIAL MEDIA — AT WHAT POINT DO THEY START ACTUALLY BEING MORE CAREFUL?
I have to hand it to all the people who passed around the “story” that Russian hackers targeted the Hillary Clinton campaign after then candidate Trump sarcastically asked for them to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.
They story was powerful and seemed to show that perhaps there was some sort of coordination in play.
It spread through social media like wildfire, with all the usual “Resistance” types losing their minds as if they had caught the president committing murder.
But also reputable journalists like CNN’s Jake Tapper and NBC’s Katy Tur.
Except it was the story was not true.
According to the actual report in question, the Russians targeted Hillary Clinton for hacking that April, months before President Trump’s comment about wanting the Russians to find Clinton’s deleted emails.
Once this started being pointed out, people started to backtrack and make qualifying statements like “well, the president did still encourage them and they may have intensified their efforts after his comments.”
But that is not even close to the story being passed around or why it was shared.
It was shared in an attempt to make President Trump look like he was colluding with Russia, only for us to find out once again that as of this moment, there is zero proof of that occurring.
Unfortunately, we have seen many similar cases during the Trump presidency.
For example, the recent story about the Trump administration’s new program of abusing children based on a story from…..2014 when Barack Obama was president.
Last year, a story circulated that Orrin Hatch had said on the Senate floor that CHIP — the health insurance program for low income children — needed to go because he was tired of funding programs for people who refused to help themselves.
Except as even Ezra Klein of Vox — who is no fan of Republicans — pointed out, Hatch was not talking about CHIP when he made those comments and even said he would see to it that CHIP got funded.
But do not tell that to all the people who made fun of Hatch for disparaging “free loading” children.
There are many more recent examples of this, but you get the point.
I understand we are in an age of social media where everything happens fast. But when you incidents like this happen — repeatedly — it becomes quite obvious what is really going on.
As I said, the social media age has certainly made things worse. In the old days, a news story would not be instant because you were waiting to air it on the 6PM news, or if you were a newspaper, get it into tomorrow’s edition.
But now? Gotta get it out there first and worry about accuracy later. Nuance and thorough checking be damned.
Put simply, people need to be better than this. Incidents like this are what give the president ammo to shout “fake news.”
These kind of major mistakes actively keep that from happening.
We are officially in the Jerry Springer era now, where nothing matters except outrage. Accuracy does is irrelevant if a story involves pushing your preferred narrative.
In this case, President Trump probably should not have openly joked that he wanted the Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s emails, but by pretending the timeline of events is different than it actually was just to drive a narrative you hope is true, any point you may have had gets completely lost.
As I said, Jerry Springer would be proud.
The fact is, the Mueller investigation has been going on for well over a year and while there have been indictments for unrelated matters, there has been exactly zero collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign proven.
This whole investigation has turned into something completely different than what it was claimed to be at the beginning, and the #Resistance is simply using it as a way to claim the president cheated to win — something there is no evidence of — because they still cannot handle the fact that he beat Hillary Clinton fair and square.
And key members of the media playing into that hysteria while seeming to care more about clicks than careful reporting makes things worse for everybody involved, including them.
Unless media members think spreading news around that is not true and hurting their credibility just to get the “scoop” is more important than maintaining long-term trust with the public.
Because if they do, then they should just go on doing what they are doing and expose themselves as frauds even further.