Misinformation in Corporate Media: The Land of Make Believe

The Flag Staff Contributor
Misinformation in Corporate Media: The Land of Make Believe
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Misinformation in Corporate Media: April wasn’t a good stretch for US corporate media. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

Top Story: Misinformation in Corporate Media

April wasn’t a good stretch for US corporate media. In a nation plagued by misinformation, a bunch of BS, or “Botched Stories”, spread like wildfire. On the left, NBC, The New York Times, and Washington Post were forced to retract a report about the FBI’s communication with Rudy Giuliani. On the right, Fox News anchor John Roberts issued a meaty correction after an on-air graphic suggested that Joe Biden’s climate plan requirements include limiting Americans to one hamburger per month. In essence, the country’s media diet is being poisoned by the chefs who are sourcing their ingredients from well… “anonymous sources.” It’s no wonder our stomachs are upset when we think about politics — sometimes we truly do live in the land of make believe. These stories were just the tip of the iceberg. Here are others you may have missed, what both sides are saying about them, and — speaking of burgers — some food for thought.

On The Left

The left has largely been focusing on two false or misleading stories pushed by the right-wing press. One involves a childrens’ book written by Kamala Harris. The other discusses the supposed ban on red meat.

First up, we have a crosstown rivalry in the Big Apple. In the New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum highlights a New York Post story that unfairly attacked Vice President Kamala Harris. The article in question “claimed that copies of a children’s book written by Vice President Kamala Harris were provided at taxpayer expense in a ‘welcome kit’ for unaccompanied migrant children at a shelter in Long Beach, CA.” This was not exactly the case, Grynbaum notes. In fact, “no books by Ms. Harris were provided by government officials at the shelter.” Instead, the copy of the book the story was based on “had been donated through a neighborhood toy and book drive for the migrant children.” The NY Post report had “initially…falsely [claimed] that ‘thousands’ of copies of Ms. Harris’s book had been distributed at migrant shelters,” a far cry from what actually took place, says Grynbaum. According to Grynbaum the Post reporter who wrote the original article said she resigned from the [NY Post] because of ‘an incorrect story [she] was ordered to write,” describing the episode as “[her] breaking point.”

Meanwhile, Michael Luciano homes in on the hamburger story in Mediaite. He says this all started when The Daily Mail, British tabloid, “published a lengthy if not loose analysis of Biden’s climate change plan, which presently doesn’t have very many details. Nevertheless, the author cited” the fact that “Americans may have to cut their red meat consumption by a whopping 90 percent,” which “equates to consuming roughly one average sized burger per month.” While that fact carries some weight, Luciano points out that the Daily Mail story “incorrectly implied it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change.” In fact the U of M study “appears to have no connection whatsoever” to Biden’s climate change plan. Luciano says this didn’t stop several conservative commentators and politicians from running with the story, ultimately leading to this graphic on Fox News.

Finally, Bess Levin elaborates on the burger bewilderment in Vanity Fair. She states, “As CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale notes, the origins of this not-at-all-real story appear to have begun, ironically, with an article by the British tabloid The Daily Mail, which, per CNN, baselessly connected Biden’s climate proposal to a 2020 academic paper estimating how greenhouse gas emissions would be affected if Americans, in theory, change their diets in a variety of ways.” Levin says one of the study’s coauthors stated their “goal is simply to illuminate through research the potential impacts that various behavioral changes can make on greenhouse gas emissions,” before he went on to accuse the “right-wing media” of “fear-mongering about our scientific studies.” As it relates to politics, Levin quotes several “easily duped” Republicans who shared the story despite its publication even “before Biden won the Democratic nomination.”

On The Right

Conservatives and right-leaning outlets document a pattern of deception that serves a larger media narrative intended to undermine Republican interests. Forget the burger story, they’re worried about the whole cow.

Gerard Baker, writing in the Wall Street Journal, describes a “daily procession of flagrant falsehoods, tendentious misrepresentations, deceitful exaggerations, and narrative-driven editorial distortions from many of the nation’s leading media outlets.” He cites a “sensational story” late last week “about the FBI investigation into Rudolph Giuliani” that “the Washington Post, the New York Times, and NBC News all appended grudging retractions to.” Meanwhile, despite the influx of reporting errors, “Corrections, retractions, and updates are frequently made with greater stealth these days,” such as when the Times “subtly revised an important passage of its Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘1619 Project’ after multiple authorities had challenged it.” Baker claims such errors and methodologies “further diminish readers’ faith in the publications” and that reporting “so riddled with disinformation” clouds collective comprehension of important events.

John Hirschauer and Chandler Lasch build on that point in RealClear Politics. They document the practice of “stealth editing,” whereby a publication revises a published piece “without disclosing that [it] has been edited.” The duo cite a recent example of USA Today revising an op-ed by Stacey Abrams to make her “appear much less sympathetic to boycotts” of the MLB All-Star Game in Atlanta. The outlet also added an additional paragraph without including an editor’s note “for more than two weeks after.” Meanwhile, PolitiFact “quoted her revised assertions in the stealth version” as part of their fact-check, with Twitter then citing that PolitiFact reporting in their own “fact-checking.” The writers state parent company Gannett was eventually forced to issue a statement that they “regret the oversight.” Ultimately, the duo recommend journalists stay “on guard against such deceptive practices as they pursue their mission of holding politicians accountable to the truth.”

Lastly, in the New York Post, Glenn H. Reynolds recounts New York Times reporting that “Officer [Brian] Sicknick had died after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher by violent Trump supporters” during the Capitol melee. He states that although it was false, the story was “quickly repeated by numerous other media outlets.” According to the DC medical examiner, “Sicknick suffered no injuries” and did not “have a reaction to bear spray,” dying of natural causes after the event. Reynolds asks, will the NYT “tell us who [their anonymous sources] were” or “apologize for its error?” He believes the answer is no and quotes journalist Glenn Greenwald, who called the story “essential to [the NYT] narrative” that “Trump and his supporters were ‘insurrectionists.’” Contrary to common beliefs, he continues, “Reporters and editors generally decide on the storyline” first before the facts are “massaged to make sure the public gets the right impression.”

Flag This: Misinformation in Corporate Media

According to Axios, citing Edelman’s annual trust barometer published at the end of January, “fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media.” Moreover, “56% of Americans agree with the statement that ‘Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations'” and “58% think that ‘most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.'” Is that a crisis? Or is that the public just immunizing themselves against the BS, or “Botched Stories”. Click here to share your thoughts.

Flag Poll: Misinformation in Corporate Media

What’s your opinion on modern-day corporate media in America? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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1 month ago

I am totally disgusted with main stream media on both sides of the aisle. I think the one that most frustrates me is NPR(national public radio) which is so left leaning it is not funny. It’s the main source for the left and they look at it as total fact if NPR says it. How much money does the government provide these left leaning losers to spew their garbage and ignore the right? NPR should be middle of the road but it is not. 🙁 I find myself believing less and less the media tells me now days.

1 month ago

The media is so politically driven they do not do their job of research or fact checking. It’s amazing how much “fake” news the American people hear every day. Thank you for this newsletter so we can hear a little from both sides. It’s a welcome read for todays news!

1 month ago

Totally untrustworthy and politically biased. To take the question a step further, “But by who and to what end?”

Perhaps the biggest long-term threat to the American ideal is that many of these outlets and publications, including a wide range of entertainment giants in Hollywood, are now foreign-owned and increasingly beholden to and editorialized by China, to fit the Chinese narrative and worldview.

Together this casts more than a shadow of doubt on both the news and entertainment media, though it may help explain the increasingly blurred lines between the worlds of fact and fantasy that US media viewers are being fed.

1 month ago

The media has not been trustworthy for several years and it is getting less so on a daily basis. If citizens cannot get accurate and reliable stories from media sources they will start to invent their own.

Laura Elliott
1 month ago

I even stopped reading your email post because of the lies that are being spread by the news organizations I think it’s sick and I think that journalism is down in the toilet these days they don’t report anything but lies and the American people are sick of it

1 month ago

The media are a disgrace. They cause so much garbage and ill will. They should be ashamed. Media ceo should be held accountable for what they do and prosecuted.

1 month ago

Read John Zada’s book Veils of Distortion. It’s not just the fale news. It’s all the ways in which the media distort the truth to drive ratings and clicks. It’s entertainment and should be viewed as such. I don’t think there’s a shred of objective news left on TV. Social media is a joke. Print is nearly obsolete and investigative reporting is dead. If you want the truth look at outlets outside the U.S.

1 month ago

Everybody knows the media is biased. Just look at how they buried all the stories about Hunter Biden. It was enough to be a big controversy, but they were all desperate to avoid saying anything to help Trump win. Much like all the uncomfortable moments with women concerns about Joe – bury it and pretend it never happened because you don’t want to damage his campaign because of the desperation to avoid trump being reelected.

Rick B
1 month ago

Having grown up in the Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, Huntley and Brinkley era, it is difficult to relate to the way news is reported today. Back then stories were reported without the constant and apparent editorializing that we see from today’s news people. And back then, if there was an opinion to be offered by a reporter or station, it was clearly identified as such, not masked as fact as we so often see today. I sometimes wonder if today’s reporters attend journalism schools, or if they are simply selected because they can read a teleprompter and look good in a tight dress or expensive suit. My suggestion — read All the President’s Men to see what demands there were to get multiple sources and fact check information before going to press. For those reading challenged, at least see the movie.

Lastly, please let the facts lead to their logical conclusion. Don’t start with your own conclusion and then go find the facts to support it.

Rick B.

Reply to  Rick B
1 month ago

I’m with you Rick. I long for the days of “Uncle Walter”. I agree, today’s TV ” news” is not about fact based reporting but rather ratings. However they don’t hide that its just “entertainment”, its in their name (I.e. Fox News Entertainment). But yet the typical viewer hears an opinion of a so-called expert, and actually believe its a fact. And yes, see my post above – I’m tired of people seeking only sources that play into their need for confirmation bias. Lazy thinking! Here’s to us Dinos (as in dinosaurs, not to be confused with Rhinos – LOL).

1 month ago

Flat out sucks. Just toxic messages constantly.

Bob Park
1 month ago

In order to maintain a will to live I have for some time now totally abstained from any and all mainstream media news. It’s just not worth it. Even here in small market flyover country, local news outlets are obviously leaning against what I still hope is a conservative majority of opinion. This is one reason that I absolutely enjoy y’all’s platform. Your presentation of both sides of an issue is great.
Keep it up and thank you!

1 month ago

There has always been some bias in media. Growing up in the 1970, i remember that some newspapers were endorsing Democrats while others the Republican. Just as then, (when there was no internet, so you had to go to the library), it was important to recognise the “slant” a publication had and seek information from a source with an “opposite slant” that either collaborated or contradicted the original article. From there, it is up to you to figure out what the “truth” is, but be open to changing your mind when presented with irrefutable facts. I despair that in this age when its so easy to find various sources of information, too many people fall into a trap of “Confirmation Bias” and label information that does not conform to their views as “fake news”. Education should not stop when a person gets their diploma!

Yolanda R Allison
1 month ago

The answer is there in your question, “corporate media. Corporations make a profit and only think about money. The media was once owned by people who felt that democracy could not exist without a media to inform the public about what is important. Entertainment is a money maker and that is what the corporate media does- entertains us.