Opinion

Delusion and Hypocrisy — The Essential Ingredients of Fake News

“Figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and the trio of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham have attained wealth and power by exploiting the fears of older white people. They are thriving financially by exploiting the very same free-press umbrella they seem determined to undermine,” according to a September 3, 2018 article in The Atlantic written by NBC’s Chuck Todd, moderator of the network’s venerable “Meet the Press” show.

Some sense could be made of that by substituting the word disgust for fears — disgust with the accuracy and quality of mainstream news reporting. It is an article that confirms disgust with the delusional state of journalism and reportage practiced by today’s news sources.

Fox News is the object of Todd’s diatribe with focus on the late Roger Ailes. He says, “Without Ailes, a man of Trump’s background and character could never have won. Roger Ailes was the godfather of the Trump presidency.” Here, we have Trump Derangement Syndrome on full display, warts and all.

Making America Great Again

The Trump presidency resonates with the 1950s when WWII hero and Republican President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower led the country to peace and prosperity after 20 years of Democrat administrations that brought on The Great Depression and world war. And so Trump has brought us a new optimism, a new spirit in the land, after eight Obama years spent denigrating everything that makes America great.

Any balanced evaluation of this administration’s performance so far would need to include superlatives on both the domestic and economic fronts as well as foreign policy and national security. If you agree with me, that makes us both wrong. A March 6, 2018 piece in The Washington Times found that ABC, CBS and Mr. Todd’s NBC coverage was 91 percent negative. Scandals highlighted by the Mueller, Russian collusion probe were the objects of their most focused coverage.

The Story Never Told

Never mentioned is Secretary of State Clinton’s role in Putin’s 2012 election bid. From a July 27, 2016 piece on nbc.com, “For a Russian leader who is considered as vain as he is ruthless, Clinton’s criticism long ago crossed over from the political into the personal. He carries a grudge against a woman who has publicly compared him to Hitler and expressed doubts that he has a soul.” Later in the article, Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, offered the opinion that Putin took the remarks personally.

Putin stepped down in 2008 after serving two terms as president, as called for in the post-Soviet constitution. He served four years as prime minister, an office subservient to the president, and in 2012 became a presidential candidate once again. His campaign was marred by widespread protests from an electorate not satisfied with economic progress promised by Putin-dominated governance since 2000.

In his biography, “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin,” author Steven Lee Myers reports, “Three days after the vote, speaking to organizers of his coming presidential campaign, he blamed the on-going protests on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had criticized the conduct of the election.” He went on to say that she had a hand in organizing the protests.

After a rocky campaign, Putin was successful in his re-election bid, but harbored deep personal resentments toward Clinton. During his rise from KGB apparatchik to president, he never let a challenge go unretaliated. That would have been a fatal sign of weakness in Russian politics. If indeed the Russian government had a hand in hacking our 2016 election, the motive is quite obvious. It was revenge against Hillary Clinton.

Leaving out this significant part of the 2016 Russian influence on the U.S. election story allowed the mainstream media (which includes NBC) to embellish on the theory that there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Russia or that the Russians were blackmailing him.

Teetering on the Edge of Balance

Here is what Todd says about balanced coverage: “From the very beginning, Ailes signaled that Fox News would offer an alternative voice, splitting with the conventions of television journalism. Take the word balanced. It sounded harmless enough. But how does one balance facts? A reporting-driven news organization might promise to be accurate, or honest, or comprehensive, or to report stories for an underserved community. But Ailes wasn’t building a reporting-driven news organization. The promise to be ‘balanced’ was a coded pledge to offer alternative explanations, putting commentary ahead of reporting; it was an attack on the integrity of the rest of the media. Fox intended to build its brand the same way Ailes had built the brands of political candidates: by making the public hate the other choice more.”

What is the public’s reaction to Fox coverage? From Adweek, “FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service dedicated to delivering breaking news as well as political and business news. The number one network in cable, FNC has been the most watched television news channel for 16 years and according to a Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey, is the most objective information source in the country. Owned by 21st Century Fox, FNC is available in more than 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape, routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre.” There must be a lot of old white people.

It is remarkable how anyone with such a total lack of self-awareness is employed to bring us information about what goes on in the lives of others. About bias, he says,” At the other extreme, critics may be accusing journalists of having deliberately and consciously shaped their reporting to serve some political end. That sort of overt bias is far rarer. Ironically, the best example of this kind of bias airs regularly in prime time on Fox News.” May the pot never run out of black kettles.

What is most remarkable is not that anyone wrote this but that after having done so and after proofreading it, would send it out for publication…giving anyone else access to such twisted logic. It is equal parts delusion and hypocrisy by an employee of the network which killed the Weinstein story.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Wayne McLaughlin

Wayne McLaughlin is an OpsLens Contributor and US Army Veteran.

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