Thursday, March 10, 2011

Modern Media Matters

Let’s talk about a couple issues related to the modern media, both of which came to light in the past few days. First, we have the NPR issue and the whining about James O’Keefe. Then we have the issue of fake callers.

1. NPR Stung
James O’Keefe first came to the public consciousness when he pulled a sting on ACORN, exposing them as a criminal organization. His sting was so successful it killed ACORN. What made this all the more shocking, was the number of government organizations who should have been investigating/overseeing ACORN, yet somehow, “knew nussiiiiing” until O’Keefe exposed the truth.

Now he’s done it again. This time he exposed the bias as the top of NPR, with an NPR executive slandering Republicans, acquiescing in anti-Semitic remarks, and saying they don’t need funding -- this despite the fact NPR claims to be unbiased and continues to lobby for funding on the basis that withdrawing funding would destroy NPR.

So far two executives have resigned as a result of this, but that’s hardly enough. There is no way someone with these views or who thinks such conduct is acceptable could make it to the top of a news organization if his conduct was not condoned by the other managers and staff. And since I don’t recall any NPR reporters blowing the whistle, I think it’s a fair read that they too share his beliefs. . . as further evidenced by the bias they inject into their stories. So it sounds to me like it’s time for (1) a purge, (2) outside supervision, and (3) intensive sensitivity training by conservative and Jewish groups.

Of course, the left is complaining that what O’Keefe did was unethical -- they made the same claim when Tucker Carlson exposed the Journolist. But what O’Keefe did is a time-honored journalistic tactic used by 60 Minutes, Primetime Live and dozens more. It doesn’t suddenly become immoral just because it catches liberals.
2. Media Fakery
Leftists are also claiming that a company provides fake callers to shows like Rush and Hannity so they can control what questions they get asked. Really? Why? They get more callers than they can possibly use and their screeners control who gets through, so they already control what questions get asked. Moreover, anyone who argues for a living is more than capable of twisting their callers to get to any point they want. So why bother?

Nevertheless, this raises a good point to keep in mind: you can’t just believe everything you see or hear. Consider the issue of fake comments. Fake comments have become a part of the propaganda/marketing wars. They are everywhere now. When you see a town hall meeting on television, what you are seeing is a highly controlled, almost scripted event that is designed to provide the public with a certain perception of the politician who held the event. This includes selecting who gets in (including race and gender quotas), selecting who gets to ask questions, and often planting questions to help the speaker make the precise points they want to make. When you see a story at Yahoo or other news sites, you often see a couple hundred strangely similar comments appear usually within a short period of time. These are from groups that troll the web looking for articles where they can influence the public by creating the impression that the rest of the public thinks one way or another.

Even when you go to a website, you have no idea if the comments you see are real. Some are intended to make the place seem busier or to stir up controversy or to make the author seem more popular (unlike the first comment below, which is 100% legit!). In the commercial arena, some companies have marketing departments which go to places like Amazon and talk up their own products and talk down their competitors. One college professor was actually fired when he was caught anonymously posting malicious comments about a competitor’s book. Even the Washington Redskins are believed to have hired someone to post comments as andyman, attacking their critics at various newspapers. Some companies/political groups even set up fake blogs dedicated to their products, but which appear to be unrelated and spontaneous.

The point is you can’t believe anything you see in this anonymous yet highly-produced world, so the idea that anyone should be upset if Rush uses a fake caller is ludicrous. This also means, that despite the fact we have become a cynical people, we apparently still need to become even more cynical.

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