Ain’t no fun when the bunny gets a gun
Farhad Manjoo of the NY Times is having second thoughts about Twitter.
For instance, Manjoo wants to blame Twitter for elevating the stupid over the serious:
What he never mentions is that “serious” news organizations like CNN happily covered the “covfefe” crisis on their news programs. Manjoo really cannot explain why it is Twitter’s fault that CNN wasted time on “a brouhaha over a typo.”
It prizes pundit-ready quips over substantive debate, and it tends to elevate the silly over the serious for several sleepless hours this week it was captivated by “covfefe,” which was essentially a brouhaha over a typo.
A large part of this article is a sly attempt to excuse and coverup the moral and intellectual failings of professional journalists and established news organizations.
Note how neatly this absolves the legacy media. They are forced to cover these stupid Twitter-generated stories because they bend over backwards to avoid even the appearance of bias.
“When journalists see a story getting big on Twitter, they consider it a kind of responsibility to cover it, even if the story may be an alternate frame or a conspiracy theory,” said Alice Marwick, who was co-author of a recent report on the mechanics of media manipulation for the Data & Society Research Institute. “That’s because if they don’t, they may get accused of bias.”
Here’s an alternative explanation that Manjoo conveniently ignores.:
Covering a Twitter-centric story is cheap and easy. The journalist never has to get out of his chair. As such, this content is catnip for penny-pinching editors as well as lazy, ill-informed reporters.
[Related: Cable news, vox populi, and professional sleaze]
“I am a journalist and so am vastly ignorant of many things, but because I am a journalist I write and talk about them all.”--G. K. Chesterton
"A typical reporter on deadline calls a couple of people and slaps something into the paper the next day."--Scott Shane (New York Times reporter)
In previous posts I’ve argued that journalists were early adopters of Twitter because it strengthened their control of “explanation space”.
A few years ago Twitter was praised for the way it empowered and energized the Black Lives Matter movement. The MSM was singularly uninterested in the role conspiracy theories played in that movement and the fake facts promulgated to support the favored Narrative (“Hands up. Don’t shoot”)
Manjoo and his editors cast this piece as an even-handed look at how a technology can be exploited to disseminate lies and misinformation. Oddly enough, he chooses his examples from Trump supporters and the populist Right. Sean Hannnity and Seth Rich get a lot of attention. Louise Mensch, extravagant and misleading claims that “Russians hacked the election“, and flat charges that “Trump committed treason” are largely ignored.
If it is mostly bots retweeting bots, just how many people are reading the tweets let alone the underlying stories?
Outside of Twitter in message boards or Facebook groups a group will decide on a particular message to push. Then the deluge begins. Bots flood the network, tweeting and retweeting thousands or hundreds of thousands of messages in support of the story, often accompanied by a branding hashtag #pizzagate, or, a few weeks ago, #sethrich.
The passage quoted reminded me of something else-- an earlier conspiracy to frame the narrative and shift debate during a presidential election.
In that case, though, journalists and activists were not creating trending hashtags for a small audience on Twitter. Instead, they were injecting them right into the MSM.
And the defenders of truth and honest journalism did not care.
Because, in the end, facts and truth are not a major concern for them. It is simply Narrative Uber Alles.