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Posts published in “Off-Topic”

The Media: Why Trust Them At All?

Based on this last election cycle, I’ve come to the conclusion that people say that don’t trust the media, but their dominant opinions are still formed by the media. Remember the video of people who could tell you that Sarah Palin’s daughter was pregnant but could remember one Obama idea? It’s kinda like all Americans are above-average drivers. Americans believe themselves to be above-average informed while simultaneously distrusting the media. They know they’re being deceived and manipulated, they just believe the deception while believing they’re not believing.

The mainstream media doesn’t deserve the trust. Right now, CNN and Charles Johnson of LGF continue to argue over what is essentially Palestinian propaganda passed off as news. Ed Driscoll goes through the history and names the stories, huge stories the media was wrong about:

But if the jury is still out on that clip, let’s take a video look at news from this decade that we know conclusively was botched, including:

  • The New Republic’s Danger Man, Scott Thomas Beauchamp.
  • Reuters’ Picture Kill fiasco.
  • Former CNN chief Eason Jordan claimed US (and Israeli) troops targeted journalists For assassination–but was surprisingly cool about working with Saddam Hussein.
  • Hurricane Katrina and the “Echo Chamber in the Superdome.”
  • Document Dan Rather.
  • Jayson Blair.
  • And the grandfather of ‘em all: Walter “Boom Boom” Duranty.

And this doesn’t even touch the most egregious form of media manipulation: what the media chooses to not report to you. For example, do you know how Barack Obama got his seat in the Illinois Senate? Why did it take the National Enquirer to break the John Edwards story–imagine if he’d have been a Republican Presidential candidate cheating on his campaigning wife who was suffering with cancer? Have you heard, nationally, about Chris Dodd’s involvement in the regulation related to the housing crisis while benefiting personally from the regulations? Have you seen the Palestinians using their children as shields during the war in any news coverage?

It’s not just misreporting, it’s what’s not being said at all that’s the danger. And maybe the bigger danger is that people will just believe everything because trying to keep up and filter is overwhelming. Or, they’ll get cynical and believe nothing. The whole system relies on a certain amount of trust.

The media shouldn’t exclude itself from criticism. Please. They sell their product on the back of hype and fear-mongering. It is to their competitive advantage to keep everyone frothing. And then, they’ll turn around tomorrow and tell the American people how the stimulus bill destroyed, destroyed I tell you!, America.

The hypocrisy would be comical if the side effects of the delusion drug weren’t so costly to a free republic.

Is Twitter Evil, Too?

We tend to think that those who run online systems like Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed and the grand poo-bah Google make them passive robot-like vehicles for democratic action. That’s not exactly true. At the very least someone wrote the code in a certain way to achieve a certain outcome. It doesn’t have to be a nefarious plot to inadvertently cause harm.

Still, there are living, breathing people behind these companies who watch their technology grow and develop and make money. These people have ideologies and philosophies and the ability to manipulate their domain either very specifically or generally. Imagine a developer constructing a neighborhood. He can mess things up passively–use the wrong kind of pipe fittings that causes leaks in all the homes. Or he can mess things up specifically–hang the cabinets wrong, “forget” some special hardware, order the wrong tile for a customer he doesn’t particularly like. Software developers can do the same thing. Heck, hardware developers can too. Sony was found to have put a chip in their machines to collect data.

A couple years ago, there was a big internet stink over a psycho lefty who was harassing and threatening a conservative blogger. I was watching and writing about the episode. The conservative blogger ended up with a denial of service attack. Around the same time, a DOS attack happened to my blog. And then, my blog just disappeared. Whoosh! At the time, I was using Blogger (hosted by Google). Another conservative blogger, Betsy Newmark, had her blogger domain name taken and given to someone else. Blogger just “lost” her whole archive of blog posts. This is Google we’re talking about. They lose nothing. After two weeks of wrangling, Google “found” her domain and archives and restored them.

So now, a conservative Twitterer is wondering if the same sort of manipulation is happening to him. Remember the Motrin Moms? I barely blogged about it because it seemed like another tempest in a D-cup, typical feminist fare. The women got worked up because they were offended by a stupid (and it was stupid) Motrin commercial.

Here’s the thing. It IS possible for these companies to censor and manipulate and they can do it all behind a technological shroud. I’m not for being a conspiracy theorist, but I do think that it’s wise to realize that the internet and its businesses are a sea of people driving technology, not the other way around.

It is in everyone’s interest to keep these operators honest.