Tag Archives: hannity

When the Media Really Is Fake

 

What happened last night in Vegas is unspeakable. So of course Sean Hannity spoke.

“This is no time to politicize the tragedy,” he belched on Fox.

What insanity this? He then went on a rant against the “liberal media,” who would surely try to make this a political hot potato.

Do you not already smell that potato, Sean? You just popped it in the oven.

What’s far worse, however, is the logic the state’s news service used in ducking the issue that rains on us like Irma’s hellfire. By that logic, when would it be a good time to bring up any issue you’d care not suffer? There were 11,680 gun violence death in 2016, Justice Dept. says. That’s 30 grieving families a day, Sean. Okay to discuss when they’re in mourning?

Heck, why politicize Puerto Rico when all of those Americans are without water and electricity? Why talk about police-related shootings when at least two families’ lives have shattered?

Now is exactly the time to talk politics. This week’s column was supposed to be about the brilliant Ken Burns series The Vietnam War. We will save that fawning for later.

But it is interesting the series arrived days before the massacre. Through 10 episodes, we learned how to measure human losses on the military scale. Should they have waited longer to say something? After all, 58,000 American families were grieving, right Sean?

Movements — and the laws that follow — are smelted in the fury at injustice.

How else to describe this? When one man can  kill 59 (so far) and injure another 525?

That’s not even a shooting. It’s a military incursion. So please, Sean, unless you have something politically constructive to say — in any direction — amidst this insanity, do shut the fuck up.

 

 

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We the Press People

 

Enough.

Enough with the attempts to define news.  Enough with the mock outrage over a lack of objectivity. Enough with pretending that “social” media is somehow different from its “mainstream” sibling.

It isn’t. Make no mistake: They are siblings, if not identical twins.

That we in the ancient media of print and television ever tolerated the term “social media” is something of a grim miracle. It’s hard to imagine other professions that would tolerate such a mangling of the terminology of its trade. Or that the public would so wholeheartedly embrace the mauling.

How many businesses or people, for instance, would hazard a flight on a plane steered by a “social pilot?” How many would reserve gurney time for an appendectomy by a “social surgeon?”

Yet, like running a hotel or driving a taxi, being a journalist has become the province of amateurs. Thanks to blogs and free vomit buckets like Facebook and Twitter, the idea of being published hinges less on linguistic dexterity than determinism.

Yet so many in the media claim to be outside its Ivy League walls, forbidden entry by out of step gatekeepers. And we’re not just talking conspiracy slackwits like Sean Hannity or Alex Jones.

Really smart people — like, Noam Chomsky-, Sam Harris-, Neil deGrasse Tyson-, Richard Dawkins-smart — make similarly ridiculous claims.

Take Harris, a neuroscience author of staggering eloquence. In his podcast, website and books, he is quick to lament that “the mainstream media refuses or is unable to see” most issues that underpin our society, from religion to economics to politics. The schism, Harris contends, was a leading contributor to the victory of the Trump administration.

Yet in the same talk or web posting, he will wonder aloud how his podcast became so popular, his Twitter account so swamped with activity.

It’s because you’re in the mainstream media, Sam.

Just do the math. While podcast numbers are not officially tallied (like Nielsen ratings for TV, and yes, that’s a hint), Harris has been publicly flabbergasted by a podcast following of 400,000 that exceeds all of his book sales — combined. He has 888,000 Twitter followers.

The Washington Post has a circulation of 740,000. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, If Harris’ Twitter fanbase alone were a newspaper, it would be the fifth largest in the nation

He’s hardly alone in the confusion. There isn’t an outlet in America that doesn’t distinguish between “mainstream” and “social” media.

But what is the real difference? The largest newspaper in America is the Wall Street Journal, with a circulation north of 2.4 million. (It’s also owned by Rupert Murdoch, in case critics of a liberal media forgot).

Compare that to Facebook, which functions like any other news outlet, with curated headlines and all-flavored news and feature stories. A recent Pew Research study found that 68% of Americans have accounts on Facebook.

That’s a circulation of 218 million.

The same applies to myriad “social” media sites: Instagram would have a circulation of 89.9 million; Pinterest, 83.5 million; Twitter, 67.4 million.

Even the term in a misnomer. If something qualifies as social media, by definition it is also renting property in MainstreamVille. How do we even claim separation, particularly when the largest news outlet in the United States decided a presidential election? How does it remain spared of fake news claims?

The truth is, media is like pizza. You get what you ordered, or you go out of business. Does anyone honestly lay claim to the notion that “mainstream” media refuses to report real news because it would rather report on Kim Kardashian’s ass? That it wants to secretly slip the public pap, like giving a fussy baby a spoonful of Gerber’s by making an airplane noise?

So let’s ratchet down the vitriol, Mr. Harris, Dawkins, Tyson et al. You’re criticizing a club to which you belong.

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