“Could be bullshit. I mean, it’s mostly bullshit right now.”
And there you have it, a CNN producer, caught on camera, frankly admitting that “fake news” isn’t some regrettable accident of the 24-hour news cycle.
“Fake news” is CNN’s entire business model. (The business model of quite a few other liberal MSM outlets too, if the tantalizing hints being dropped by James O’Keefe are to be believed…)
As a fellow human being I feel sorry for the poor guy caught on camera by Project Veritas admitting this stuff — because he’s probably going to lose his job.
But as a fellow journalist I feel about as much sympathy for him as I do for all those idiot jihadists who go out to fight in Raqqa and Mosul, lured by the cool videos of the beards, black flags, and AKs with the wailing soundtrack. Did they seriously imagine when they joined ISIS/CNN that it was all just going to be about the glamour and the hot chicks and the purity of the noble cause?
And I’m really not being high minded here. It just seems to me that one of the most basic, entry-level precepts that any serious news organization ought to be observe – and that CNN most patently never has observed, or not for a very, very long time – is this:
Facts are sacred. The truth always makes the best story. You do not make shit up.
Not only ought this stuff to be obvious, but it ought to come instinctively. Isn’t the whole attraction of joining an unglamorous, overworked, underpaid trade like journalism that you want to discover the truth about the world: all the stuff that they would rather you didn’t know?
That’s certainly been my own experience in the last few years covering the climate change/enviro-lunacy beat. I’ve never much enjoyed all the flak I’ve got from the left-wing media; still less have I liked being rejected by so many friends. But the thing that has kept me going through the hard times is that I know I’m doing good and making a real difference: there are some devious bastards out there doing terrible stuff and I’m exposing their knavery and holding them to account.
For any self-respecting journalist, I’d call that “job done.”
Sometimes I get asked by people on the other side of the argument: “What if you’re wrong?”
Here’s the first thing I’ll do if I’m wrong about climate change. I’ll write a big piece explaining why I’m wrong. Then I’ll find someone who is prepared to pay me for writing the opposite of what I do now.
This isn’t because I’m a moral paragon. It’s because I’m lazy and because I prefer the easier life: writing journalism where you have to keep making up your “facts” is much, much harder than doing what I do now, which is basically, copying out true facts and then adding a few nice adjectives and thinking up a snarky final sentence.
That said, I would have to concede that this is much easier to do if you’re politically on the right rather than on the left.
Margaret Thatcher once said “The facts of life are conservative.” And as in so many things, she was absolutely spot on. This, as you can imagine, makes life very, very difficult for people in the overcrowded left-wing media. (It’s overcrowded because so many journalists think they’re left wing).
Every day, they wake up to a world where: Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East with the best human rights record; socialism is failing everywhere it is being tried from Venezuela to North Korea; the worst, most fascistic acts of violence and intolerance are being committed by left-wing people calling themselves “anti-fascists”; Islam is not a “religion of peace”; Trump is doing a great job as president — way, way better than his predecessor Obama; man-made climate change is the biggest scam in the history of science, politics, or economics…
And somehow they’ve got to construct stories demonstrating the opposite because it’s what their dumb-assed audiences want to hear.
How, if you’re running a left-wing media organization, do you reconcile this yawning gulf between the facts on the ground and your preferred political narrative?
Simple: you remake the world so that black is white and white is black; you create your own facts.
The liberal media has achieved this in myriad ways: selective reporting; emotive storytelling where opinion masquerades as news; targeting and vicious demonizing of anyone on the other side of the argument; the extensive quotation and celebration of people on the left who have successfully infiltrated schools, universities, branches of government, and other institutions both public and private, so that their skewed version of events becomes the official narrative.
But perhaps the deadliest weapon in the liberal media’s armory is this: the continual pretence it makes that its news reporting is fair, balanced, and honest; that it is constantly striving after objective truth; that only its enemies in the malign right-wing press are guilty of biased journalism.
And for years organizations like CNN — not to mention the New York Times, the Washington Post and their various UK counterparts like the Guardian and the BBC — have been getting away with this because, as someone once said (maybe Churchill, maybe Lenin, maybe Mark Twain — no one is quite sure), “a lie is half way round the world before the truth has got his boots on.”
One of the malign consequences of this deliberate and cynical lie (which comes straight out of the Leninist playbook) is that conservative media outlets have been continually forced onto the back foot, forever having to defend themselves against the charge that they serve up politicised news designed to advance their right wing agenda.
Which they do, of course. Fox News does it. Breitbart does it. The Daily Caller does it. The Sun and the Daily Mail do it. Every one of them is undoubtedly guilty of serving up journalism with a right wing slant.
The key element missing from this particular calumny is that the left wing media demonstrates at least as much bias, if not more. It just won’t admit it.
I had a taste of this myself only a few months ago during a panel discussion in London at Chatham House which included senior editors from the New York Times and CNN. It was titled Media, Democracy and Political Influence: Does the Fourth Estate Still Matter?
What amazed me that, while I was perfectly frank with the audience that Breitbart was a conservative media organization which catered for a largely conservative readership, both the guy from CNN and the guy from New York Times were adamant that they were objective seekers-after-truth. I had a similar experience at another media event which included a very unfriendly panellist — a lawyer who had worked for the Obama administration, who clearly thought very poorly of Breitbart.
Perhaps they believed they were paragons of objective truth. But if they did, it was a truly absurd position to take, which hardly reflected well on their intellects.
Name almost any issue: Israel/Palestine; government spending v low taxation; environmentalism v economic growth; what we should do in Syria; the genius of Donald Trump. On any one of them, there at least two and often several clearly very different positions you could take which would inevitably slant the way you covered them in a news story.
The difference between right-wing outlets like Breitbart and left-wing ones like CNN is that we’re honest about what we do.
And apart from making us more trustworthy, it also — a hostage to fortune, I know — makes us more bullet proof.
I simply can’t imagine the left managing to pull off a hit job on Breitbart in the way that Project Veritas has pulled off against CNN, because we don’t have anything to hide.
First, we’re extra, uber-careful about cleaving to the facts as closely as we can because we’re fully aware of how much grief we get from our left-wing opponents if we get stuff wrong.
Second, we don’t need to make stuff up. You’re never going to get undercover recordings of me wondering how best to rig the facts in order to make climate change look like a massive global scam put together by shyster businesses, dodgy politicians, corrupt or stupid or greedy scientists and over zealous green activists, because I don’t need to do such things. The facts are on my side already. Which, given that I’m in the business of honest journalism, is just great.