Fake News.

by w3woody

At some point I’m betting these videos get “disappeared” from the Internet.

But it appears CNN has staged an anti-ISIS protest in London, in order to advance an agenda.

Source: CNN Stages Anti-ISIS Protest In London Another source, with more information: CNN Stages Fake News in London Amid Terror Attacks, Stages Anti-ISIS Muslim Protesters.


How do we know this is CNN?

Here’s the video from another angle, from Becky Anderson (@BeckyCNN)’s Twitter feed:

Now let’s be very clear about a few things.

First, I’m sure there are Muslim anti-ISIS protesters out there, and those who would protest ISIS. ISIS has killed a lot of folks around the world, but they’ve murdered more Muslims than any other group.

There certainly have been a number of protests in the past around the world; a quick search on Google shows dozens of different protests from Washington to London to the Middle East, with numbers ranging from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand, protesting ISIS.

Second, it’s pretty clear that various major media outlets feel free to stage all sorts of things in order to advance a news story–which sometimes is actually fake because they get the underlying story wrong.

To pick stories that are less politically charged, remember when ABC News faked a runaway Toyota video back in 2010? How ABC News’ Brian Ross Staged His Toyota Death Ride Or how the BBC faked a bunch of nature videos? No Fake Footage Allowed: BBC Trains Staff After Staged Video Used

None of this is new. (From 1989): CBS’s Afgan War Footage Called a Fake

During award-winning news broadcasts on Nov. 12 and 13, 1984, anchorman Dan Rather said Hoover had been on hand for “the largest sabotage operation of the war.” Videotape shot by Hoover showed Moujahedeen rebels purportedly blowing up pylons to cut power to Kabul.

The actual sabotage, however, took place 12 days before Hoover arrived on the scene, the newspaper said. Etabari, an Afghan serving as the cameraman’s translator, told the newspaper that Hoover persuaded guerrilla leaders to order about a dozen rebels to return to the site so he could stage the sabotage.

The pressure to get the “news” is high. It’s clear from the above links that the BBC and the AP were both in on the staged ISIS protest in London. They needed a shot, they needed it at a specified time, they needed it to show a particular message.

And the real protesters out there who would hold such a protest do so at times that are inconvenient to the major media outlets. It’s more exciting to have your talking head embedded in a protest showing live footage, than showing canned footage from the night before or from two days before. The immediacy is gone. The excitement is gone. The story holds less “punch.”

Who cares if there ever was a protest?

And that’s the real problem, isn’t it? We’re being told a story by people who assume they understand and know the story–but who both live in a cultural bubble where their assumptions are never challenged, and work on tight deadlines which force them to impose order on the story in order to hit the deadlines.

What happens when an author “imposes order” on the story?

They impose their point of view, their beliefs, their skew on things–and pass it along as the unvarnished truth.

Honestly I believe the two biggest problems with the news today are this:

  • Most news reporters come from the same culture.

They went to the same schools, they hang out at the same bars, they live in the same cities. Most major media outlets in the United States are consolidated in the major markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. All places who vote strongly Democrat, who represent a very small percentage of the culture across the United States.

To draw an equivalency to the European Union, this would be like if all the major media outlets across Europe resided in London, Berlin and Paris.

How do you think the Italians or the Greeks or the Spanish would feel if all their “local” news was reported by the British, the Germans and the French?

The reason for this is economic, as are all things. But it has a severe consequence in how well (or poorly) journalists understand what they are reporting.

  • The pressure for instant, always on 24 hour reporting destroys the incentive for slow, thoughtful, digested news.

We no longer have “beat” reporting, where a single reporter reports on the same topic for years, and who becomes familiar with the terms, the ideas, the concepts, the people and the locations which inform the news he’s reporting. We no longer have a “science” beat, for example, which is why the crappiest bullshit gets reported breathlessly as news.

(For example, think of how Cold Fusion periodically comes up in the news. None of the reporters are smart enough to ask the right questions to determine if this is bullshit or not. Or think of how poorly a recent discovery on how monkeys perceive faces was reported by some news outlets.)

So journalism has reduced itself–in the very best case–of people whose degree is in reporting and journalism, but who know nothing about the topic they are reporting on, being asked to explain complex topics on a tight deadline which doesn’t permit them understand the story or screen for bullshit.

And since the process of journalism is all about explaining complex topics–all we are left are people telling stories of their own prejudices and beliefs, imposed on complex events going on behind them.

I sincerely believe there is no ill-will here.

Economic pressure has destroyed journalism as a reliable source of information–though it is questionable if it ever was reliable to begin with. And because the problem is fundamentally economic–pressure has driven news outlets to report more news with fewer reporters on a wider variety of topics than ever before–there may be no fix.

We’re getting the news we’re willing to pay for.

It does mean, however, that we need to keep our wits about us, and be skeptical of the things we see. Because they may be as staged as a cold fusion demonstration or a sharply accelerating Toyota car.