Your Media, Ladies and Gentlemen

Honestly, how often does this sort of thing have to happen before reporters learn to scan websites a little closer?:

The Washington Post has erroneously reported that Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential candidate and former Fox News contributor, is joining the Qatari-owned news network Al Jazeera.

“Late last week Al Jazeera America announced the former vice-presidential candidate would be joining their news network,” the Post’s Suzi Parker writes today in a post on the She The People blog, titled “Sarah Palin’s plan to reach ‘millions of devoutly religious people’ through al-Jazeera.”

Parker calls this “a cautionary tale about what can happen when politics and celebrity meet.”

But Parker’s report is a cautionary tale about what can happen when writers cite satirical websites, such as The Daily Currant.

You may recall that Rachel Maddow made a similar mistake when she credulously cited a satirical website as calling on Palin to lead the charge for advocating an American invasion of Egypt

I’m not sure which is the more alarming trend: that even the most outlandish claims don’t seem to merit fact-checking scrutiny or that the scrutiny seems to vary depending on who the subject of the piece is.

  1. Whiskey Sam

    There is no scrutiny.  Everyone is so quick to be first, or to rush to push any item that promotes their agenda that they’re not bothering to check the veracity at all.  One site publishes an unsourced rumor (true or not, and sometimes even deliberately fake), and an hour later half the blogs and news sites are all running with it like a legit story all circularly referring to each other as their source.  It’s not just the Left doing this either.  Are we losing the ability to think critically as a society?  

  2. Pseudodionysius

    For entertainment, plant a story that Sarah Palin has the inside track to become the first female Pope.

    (Sounds of heads exploding in women’s studies departments everywhere)

  3. Jordan Wiegand
    Whiskey Sam: There is no scrutiny.  Everyone is so quick to be first, or to rush to push any item that promotes their agenda that they’re not bothering to check the veracity at all.  One site publishes an unsourced rumor (true or not, and sometimes even deliberately fake), and an hour later half the blogs and news sites are all running with it like a legit story all circularly referring to each other as their source.  It’s not just the Left doing this either.  Are we losing the ability to think critically as a society?   · 9 minutes ago

    Edited 9 minutes ago

    I’m not sure it reflects an unreflective society, but rather one where “FIRST” is more important than performing some deep analysis of news.  And in the current news game I think that’s mostly true.  The incentive structure of our news system favors firstness more than rightness.  The penalties for being incorrect are insignificant compared to the benefits for being first.

    Thus we have the strategy of throwing a bunch of mud at the wall and seeing what sticks.

  4. genferei

    When the press routinely make stuff up, it is entirely rational to give everything they print the same credence i.e. very little. In a sense, you ‘believe’ what the WaPo says in the same way you can have arguments about Batman vs. Superman, or Pirates vs. Ninjas.

    The odd thing is that someone as young as Troy pretends to find this an alarming trend.

  5. Douglas

    I think that whatever passed for the press in Imperial Rome was probably very similar to what we have today: slavering worship of Caesar.

  6. Despair Troll

    When we’re willing to believe anything, we’ll be ready to do anything.  

    Forward.

  7. flownover

    Your media ?

    Your is the clue here to the fact that choices in media have forced this circus of sycophancy onto the American people . If that ain’t fascism, I suggest free cable .

  8. Byron Horatio

    There is an outstanding news satire site out there called the Duffel Blog.  Think of it like the military’s version of The Onion.  It gives me so much joy to see people cite phony military stories as “fact” on distinguished and reputable websites.  Sometimes, they report real ones, like this sadly entirely true story about the Air Force accidentally killing dozens of people in a hearts-and-minds mission gone awry. 

  9. flownover
    Byron Horatio: There is an outstanding news satire site out there called the Duffel Blog.  Think of it like the military’s version of The Onion.  It gives me so much joy to see people cite phony military stories as “fact” on distinguished and reputable websites.  Sometimes, they report real ones, like this sadly entirely true story about the Air Force accidentally killing dozens of people in a hearts-and-minds mission gone awry.  · 10 minutes ago

    love the duffel blog !

  10. GLDIII

    To be fair to the journalists of The Post it had the air of “truthiness”. Seriously (as old Joe would say) this kind of reporting gives hope to all of the unemployed “J” school graduates that perhaps their eduction was not a expensive folly of narcissism.

  11. Dave Carter
    C

    Unfortunately, too many in the mainstream media wouldn’t recognize a falsehood if it gave a State of the Union Speech.  They have a set template, which includes the perpetual demonization of the right, and they are quick to run with anything that fits that template.  

  12. BrentB67

    The most alarming part of the trend is that the only place this is being covered is Ricochet.

  13. BrentB67
    Dave Carter: Unfortunately, too many in the mainstream media wouldn’t recognize a falsehood if it gave a State of the Union Speech.  They have a set template, which includes the perpetual demonization of the right, and they are quick to run with anything that fits that template.   · 5 minutes ago

    Edited 0 minutes ago

    Agree – the adage of the left says that if you repeat a lie 3 times on camera it becomes fact.

  14. Whiskey Sam
    Jordan Wiegand

    I’m not sure it reflects an unreflective society, but rather one where “FIRST” is more important than performing some deep analysis of news.  And in the current news game I think that’s mostly true.  The incentive structure of our news system favors firstness more than rightness.  The penalties for being incorrect are insignificant compared to the benefits for being first.

    Thus we have the strategy of throwing a bunch of mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. · 10 minutes ago

    It  goes beyond just being first, though.  Watch how quickly people tweet and share stories on social media that have no basis in fact or are demonstrably false.  If it reinforces one’s beliefs, it is unthinkingly passed on regardless of how plausible it is.  It’s not just politics.  Take a look at how many different rumors Snopes.com has pages for, and, while you’ll get a good laugh at some of them, you’ll end up depressed that so many people have no interest or ability to recognize them as fake.

  15. Whiskey Sam

    I’ll give another recent example.  I have a friend who posted this photo asking if it was legit:

    mcdrace2.jpg

    Within a few minutes, she had dozens of responses expressing outrage and how they would never eat at McDonald’s again.  Not a single person so much as questioned if it were fake.  It took me exactly 10 seconds to google “McDonald’s transaction fee” to find out it was fake. This should have set off someone’s BS detector, yet dozens of people immediately assumed it to be true because it reinforced their beliefs.