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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Things journalists believe that are untrue

As I await the editing of "Fake News Follies of 2017," I re-read it and think disquieting thoughts about why Fake News replaced the real stuff.



And I have come to a few conclusions about journalists in general that explain this foolishness. Most journalists hold dearly beliefs that simply are not true.

The first wrong belief is "The pen is mightier than the sword." English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote this in 1839.

No, it is not. If the pen were mightier than the sword, then we would have no wars. Instead, people would resolve their problems by writing nasty things to one another.

Newspapers failed to stop the rise of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini just to mention a few of the worst bastards in the 20th century.

The second wrong belief is "were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Thomas Jefferson wrote this in Paris in 1787.

Total hogwash.

Two years later, France had the latter, and many people of Jefferson's class felt the fury of the Guillotine. But they had something nice to read on their way to the gallows.

Rare is the journalist today who could survive without a government.

Meanwhile, Trump governs well without one darned newspaper in his back pocket. The nation is more prosperous than ever, and our wars are winding down -- even as our newspapers dwindle in number and influence.

By the way, rare is the news section of the newspaper that contains any news account that does not involve the government. Indeed, if you check closely, the government is the source of most news in the newspaper.

The symbiotic nature of the press and the government is one reason why most Americans no longer trust the news media.

The third wrong belief is "The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The quote comes from Chicago satirist Finley Peter Dunne who in 1902 -- writing in dialect -- had an Irish bartender say:
Th' newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs th' polis foorce an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, marries th' foolish, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward.”
Dunne mocked newspapers as busy-bodies, and less than impartial dispensers of the news.

Little has changed in 116 years.

But journalists like to think theirs is a noble profession, when in fact it is a simple trade. They fancy themselves as do-gooders, sent to Earth to right all wrongs.

Persistent in all this is the wrong-headed belief that news organizations must educate the public.

No. They must inform.

That is a humbler but more valuable service to society.

As 19th century newspaper mogul E.W. Scripps wrote in 1878: "Give light and the people will find their own way."

That's the job. If you want to comfort the afflicted, become a minister.

@@@

Please enjoy my two books about the press and how it missed the rise of Donald Trump.

The first was "Trump the Press," which covered his nomination.

The second was "Trump the Establishment," which covered his election.

To order autographed copies, write DonSurber@GMail.com.

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As always, Make America Great Again.

41 comments:

  1. English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, as in “It was a dark and stormy night..."

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  2. "First, the facts, then distort them as much as you please"...
    Territorial Enterprise editor to a young Mark Twain.. TG

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, our media cannot ever get the facts right in far too many cases. Or willfully gets them wrong.

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    2. It's happening now as predictions for Nov. come out. The fake media brings on fake pundits who do fake analysis based on fake polls, thus coming up with fake forecasts for Nov. No, we are not facing a dim landslide due to "Trump's unpopularity," Nate Silver. It's bizarre how they make things up and then forget they're made up when they use that "information" to "analyze" trends. Then they act shocked when they are wrong, and call it "unexpected" and "a shocking upset."

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  3. Aristotle called man a social animal. He saw that people want to be liked and noticed, which is why today Facebook is so powerful. Many of the commentator profiles on it are complete fabrications to enhance authority, a fact well known but strangely irrelevant to its members.
    Journalists are no different I'm sure. Unfortunately truth is boring, often silent in its radiance, does not call attention to itself. Nor does it make one much money unless it it successfully predictive, very hard , even dangerous, in a world of chance..
    Journalists therefore do not want to be mere scribes for the great, Bartelbys tirelessly recording the words and deeds of others . They prefer to control the great by forcing them to react to what they would rather have happened, not what actually happened. Doing one thing makes you a lowly puppet, the other makes you a god.
    Trump has revealed their true selfish nature and others see it now, trust them but little. Long may he reign

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  4. It's not a profession. It's a trade. If it were the former, its practitioners would need to be licensed and they might actually have a code of professional responsibility to which all would adhere.

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  5. The only people you can beat down with words are those who would be there to save your ass when the ones who don't give a shit about words are breaking down the door.

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  6. Sadly, most reporters these days view themselves as crusaders bringing about the Progressive agenda. Since the Progressive agenda has nearly taken over the press, academia, and the government, they might as well be receiving paychecks from the government. If it is proven that FusionGPS was paying reporters to publish the Steele dossier and the FBI contributed funding to the dossier, ipso facto they are government employees (or, more to the point, propagandists). - Elric

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  7. "Journalists" unfortunately for the public believe that is their job to shape public opinion.
    They have shaped my opinion to the point I'd be happy to supply the rope anytime the mob is ready.

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  8. You can't quote Jefferson on newspapers without mentioning this: "The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them..."

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    1. It isn't a recent problem. - Elric

      "If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed." - Mark Twain

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    2. I prefer Kipling (who used to be a reporter):

      "She patronized extensively a man, Ulysses Gunne,
      Whose mode of earning money was a low and shameful one.
      He wrote for certain papers, which, as everybody knows,
      Is worse than serving in a shop or scaring off the crows."

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  9. A newspaper is a business, plain and simple. If you can find enough people, advertisers and readers, to make a go of it, you’re set. But if you require government or private subsidies to keep the presses running, you’re not a newspaper, you’re a propaganda arm of the government or the individual.

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  10. I need help. The French word for news is "actualities." That translates into what is actually happening, or has happened. Unfortunately I am forced to spend time on the web and can only manage to to gather a few precious gems which constitute the real facts by going to multiple sources and evaluating what I find. Often these sources are opinionated and even vile. Is there any source adequately covers the really important news? I'm willing to accept the bias and hate if the facts are true.

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    Replies
    1. Last I heard, Diogenes was still wandering about with his lantern, searching for an honest man.

      He learned long ago not to look in "news" outlets, there aren't any there to be found.

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    2. actualites the correct spelling

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    3. No one site can ever meet this purpose. It takes multiple searches, just as you are now doing. Otherwise, we become like the left and their "Snopes said so!"

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  11. Journalists used to be part of the community.
    Now they are toadies if the elite.
    JimNorCal

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  12. Michael Crichton > Quotes > Quotable Quote

    “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/65213-briefly-stated-the-gell-mann-amnesia-effect-is-as-follows-you


    Also see Dunning-Kruger effect.

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    Replies
    1. One of the most obvious - and irritating - faults of "Journalists" in their seeming TOTAL ignorance of real phenomena.

      Whenever you see a journalist "explaining" some thing you really know about, you realize that ALL the poor schmuck knows is how to parrot other 'journalists', knows NOTHING about - say - climate/weather, for instance, or, say, biology or geology; but preaches on...

      And on...

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  13. Classic article.

    Real journalism schools should have this for students as a handout.

    - Ken

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  14. Journalism is the oldest profession.

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    Replies
    1. And not much different than the second oldest profession.

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  15. For me, I think it started a long time ago with a complete distain for Jimmy Olsen.

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  16. I rather enjoy the old black and white movies of the '30s about, or involving, newspapers and reporters, making up stories, printing scandals. Don't like to see it happening in real life, though.

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  17. http://www.pravdareport.com/opinion/columnists/24-07-2012/121719-rcoruption_america_obama-0/

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  18. "...afflict the comfortable."
    Baloney. Who was more "comfortable" 16 months ago than Hillary Clinton? Massive income based on donations from others, a Carpetbagged Senate seat, a position of SecState given to her as political payback, and a sure-thing election to the presidency because she was the wife of a popular President and was born with a vagina. The press didn't afflict her, they comforted her. Enough so, that in their warm embrace she forgot to campaign in "safe" states.
    Bwahahahahaha!

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  19. There is a quote that shows up on Instapundit quite frequently, more so these days. It goes like this,
    The role of the media is to cover the news..... with a pillow.... until it stops moving. Sorry I don't know the source but if you ask the NYTimes, the WaPo, or even the WSJ, I'm sure they can find a high level government official who will remain ananymous they can use to twist, spin, or torture this.

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  20. Hunter S. Thompson was more concise:

    “The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits—a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”


    ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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    Replies
    1. Bee-yoo-tee-ful! He did have a way with words. - Elric

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  21. Wow, I remember when the Star shut down. It was the Summer of 1981, I had finished my first year of college and was staying with my father in Alexandria, Virginia. Each day I took the subway to and from work in Washington, D.C. Every evening, when I got home, there was a young black kid, he looked all of ten years old, selling the Star in the Subway station. I remember that day. He was standing there, as usual, holding up that issue with a stunned look on his face. I felt so sorry for him.

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  22. The only people who believe the pen is mightier than the sword have never encountered automatic weapons.

    Douglas MacArthur, not sure it's a direct quote.

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  23. Look up a book called "A Gang of Pecksniffs" by H.L. Mencken. He had a lot to say about journalists, none of them complimentary.

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  24. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.” The "he" there is Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Savvy politicians take advantage of reporter's ignorance.

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    Replies
    1. Heard the "Washington Correspondent" of New York magazine on Hannity. Despite being campaign season, her only remark on DT was "He has white supremacists at his rallies." She told us she was...25 years old.

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