18 May 2009

Trusting the Main Stream News Media

Trusting the Main Stream News Media is foolish at best. Most people are well aware that Fox News Channel is untrustworthy since documentaries such as OUTFOXED have shown how they use every propaganda technique known to twist the 'truth' into whatever 'truth' they want. Well, it's not just Fox. The Main Stream News Media (MSM) generally provides corporatist-biased news coverage.

The MSM has ignored important stories such as the California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's Top To Bottom Review of Election Machinery (TTBR) and the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's Project EVEREST (Evaluation and Validation of Election Related Equipment, Standards and Testing). When you consider the following quote from the EVEREST final report, it is hard to understand why these were not huge news stories.
The computer-based voting systems (all three of them) used in Ohio transmit ballot definition and votes for tabulation on memory cards (and in some cases on peripheral coding devices). These cards and devices are insecure and operated in environments where there are many levels of access to these devices (voters, poll workers, election officials, contractors and vendor representatives). These devices are used in multiple ports of entry to the system and shared between various components of the system, whose shared data travels to the ultimate destination of the server software used for present and future elections. Accordingly, the prudent course of action is to remove insecure ports of entry to the system from less secure environments such as polling locations.

Between the California TTBR and the Ohio EVEREST every voting machine used throughout the entire country was tested by computer and security experts. The bottom line of both reports was that our election machines are insecure, unreliable, error prone, not transparent, and unfit for purpose. Yet, this was not newsworthy. Completely ignored by the MSM.

This is the favorite technique used by the MSM to control the framing of the news. No lies are required, just ignore stories. The protesters that threw eggs at Bush's limousine were only seen by those that saw Michael Moore's documentary because it was never shown on any Main Stream News outlet. Likewise, the Iraq war protests were ignored. The protests at the Republican National Convention in 2008 were ignored. The Tea Tantrums, on the other hand were not ignored even though none of them had even one tenth the number of protesters as the Iraq war protests.

Ignoring stories isn't really lying. There is always a lame excuse for why it was igored. It only becomes apparent that there is an agenda when you watch what gets ignored over a period of time. Ignoring the voting machines problem hides the problem from most of the public. Ignoring the war protests allows them to portray the war as being more popular than it really is as well as being able to portray elected officials such as Rep. Kucinich (opponent of the Iraq war) as isolated lunatics who are not representing their constituents.

Another favorite technique is the careful cherry-picking of which set of facts to include in a story. In a sound bite world, which bites get used can completely change the story. This is, in fact, the favorite propaganda technique employed by Rush Limbaugh. Media Matters documents a recent example of this behavior. ABC News ignores the facts in order to prop up the Pelosi story.
Here's how ABC reported it today: [15 May 2009]
Pelosi yesterday accused the CIA of giving her “inaccurate and incomplete information” on the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics by the Bush administration, saying that CIA officials are guilty of “misleading the Congress of the United States.” Her recollection is contradicted by an intelligence report sent to Congress last week, which said Pelosi was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques “that had been employed” in September 2002.

Yikes, Pelosi was caught red-handed telling a fib; unmasked by a CIA intelligence report which totally undercut her claim that she was never told about torture techniques. Busted!

But what did ABC dutifully leave out of its explanation about how Pelosi's recollection was "contradicted" by a CIA intel report? Just the fact that the head of the CIA warned Congress that that intel report may not be accurate or reliable.

Leaving out details of a story may not be lying, but it can mislead just a much as a lie can. There is a name for this sort of thing. It is called propaganda.

The conclusion I have reached is that if you want accurate news you have to use multiple sources and the best sources are on the internet. Regional blogs provide a more accurate picture of what goes on in a region than most other sources will. Newspapers are good for regional information particularly if you can find a high quality blog to double check against. In Alaska there are many very good blogs on political news. The best source of information on Teh Palinator™ is Mudflats. For national and international news you need to sample stories from as many outlets as you have time for. European news sources appear less biased than U.S. sources. The British Newspapers owned by Murdoch are somewhat sensationalist and distort British stories but their international coverage isn't bad. Most news outlets in countries in Europe publish stories in English. Australian and New Zealand newspapers are good fact check targets.

With the current state of journalism, one has to do more work to be certain that you are getting the real facts. Fortunately, there are not that many stories that are important enough to require large amounts of effort. It's a shame this is necessary, but it certainly appears that it is.


  1. Loved this article. I listened to Randi Rhodes yesterday and she said bloggers aren't journalists. Well probably some are and some aren't, but I guarantee there are few, if any, real journalists in the MSM. I get most of my news online these days because I can't stand to listen to the MSM anymore. It's not just Fox, it's all of them.

    As for election integrity issues, do you read BradBlog.com? If not, you should. It's very good at keeping up with election fraud.

    Keep up the good work SRG!

  2. Hey Git.. great job.. I agree. I don't believe any of them. Even MSNBC is getting sensationalist anymore. You just can't trust what they are saying and I verify and double check everything.

    I am loving your blog. Glad you decided to get it going. Keep up the good work. We need your voice out here.

  3. Thank you both for your kind words.

    The statement that Bloggers are not journalists is true in general. Some bloggers are, in fact, journalists and report facts exactly as journalists are supposed to. Most blogger mix the reporting of facts with opinion on what the facts mean or imply. That is not journalism, but it can be very useful if you are familiar enough with the blogger to know how the opinions expressed are arrived at. I didn't hear Randi's show where she said that, but it sounds like I would agree with her.

    I follow Brad Blog and Freedom to Tinker pretty closely and Black Box Voting and Voters United occasionally. I agree that Brad Blog is required reading for election integrity issues. Brad Friedman has been covering election integrity like white on rice for a very long time. I can't speak highly enough of Brad. He's the only reason I knew about TTBR and EVEREST.

    I agree. It's not just Fox, it's all of them.

  4. Here is a blogger's response to Randi's comment:


    I do get almost all of my news from blogs so I do consider it journalism, whether it's the dictionary definition or not. I realize there is opinion included, but you get that on TV and in mewspapers too. Every news story has a slant one way or another. So I let the bloggers report and I decide (to paraphrase Fox news).

    Anyway, looking forward to many more interesting pieces here.

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