Saturday, November 5, 2016

Media Distortion Creates False Impressions

Benghazi has been examined by at least eight panels, and not one uncovered major wrongdoing by Clinton. The Clinton Foundation created "conflicts of interest" — and saved countless lives from AIDS. (New York Times OP-ED by Nicholas Kristof, Nov 5, 2016.)
A "conflict of interest" means overlapping roles which  must then be balanced to serve the mandates for all duties equally well.
One way the media has lied about the Clinton Foundation is with pictures of Hillary standing with the king and queen of Morocco, above headlines about the Clinton Foundation receiving a large donation from them in return for her presence at the Clinton Global Initiative 2015, held in Morocco. The only problem with that is that she was NOT present at the Global Initiative in Morocco, and the picture is from an entirely different event. See? The headline says conflict of interest and pay for play, the picture backs it up, BUT if anyone bothers to read the story, Hillary was not there, no pay for play was happening. Pictures can be made to tell a lie (see, US Prayer Watch, and others).
I have read articles quoting the Republican national Committee chairman, implying that foreign governments have given money to Hillary Clinton, which PolitiFact rates as a untrue. They gave money to the Clinton Foundation, a charity (which has had its books audited by several charity watch dog groups and subsequently given top ratings)

Media creating false impressions is seen in the headlines at the Washington Free Beacon, Payroll and benefits transactions to Clinton total $254,000 since April 2015. We learn in the small print that "The FEC requires in-kind contributions to be posted under expenditures and contributions even though no money is being disbursed from the campaign". At the end of the story we learn that the other candidate "reimbursed $410,000 to himself and his other entities for payroll expenses, rent, hotel, and restaurant bills in December".

So the story is that Hillary gave her campaign $254,000 in-kind contributions, while that man paid himself $410,000 from his campaign. Does the headline match the story? Hardly!

How can we tell when a story is a combination of misleading headlines, misinformation and outright lies, and when it is giving us the news?

1. Consider the source! Print journals like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and hundreds of other highly rated newspapers and magazines care about their reputations. They have a history of winning journalistic awards such as the Peabody Award.

2. Do the stories claim special 'insider' knowledge that turns what the rest of the world is reporting upside down? That is usually a tip off  for an enterprise funded to spread propaganda.

3. Do they run a spectrum of editorial and opinion pieces, or are their op-ed articles representative of only one point of view?   If they publish opposing views, they are probably not a propaganda site.

4. Media not created to push a particular political view will cover the entire community with a breadth and a depth of news, not just one political party.

Readers of the Washington Times may claim it is not partisan, and that fans of Breitbart and its clones may insist they are only reporting facts, but look carefully for a willingness to correct errors, and to admit the 'other side' may have a point. Any journal that insists it has special truth and that the others are all wrong or misguided is frequently wrong. In this Information Age, with cell phone videos of news as it happens, with Twitter and Facebook and all the rest of the modern media, professional journalists still stand out by their careful treatment of fact versus speculation.

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