Monday 12 November 2018

An op-ed from the BBC's Dave Lee

Here's a video report from the BBC's US-based technology correspondent Dave Lee to mark the launch of the BBC's Beyond Fake News season:

You'll note that the expert 'talking heads' in the piece are Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post and Claire Wardle of First Draft. (Have a guess who part-funds First Draft!). The Washington Post and First Draft played major roles in launching the phrase 'fake news' during the 2016 presidential election, so it's perhaps no wonder that they're now so peeved about Donald Trump turning it back on them. 

Here's a transcript of the report:

Donald Trump: I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton... 
Dave Lee: When Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 there was a brief moment when the phrase 'fake news' meant exactly that. News that wasn't true. But then, before he'd even be inaugurated, this happened:
Donald Trump: I am not going to give you a question. You are fake news...fake, phony, fake...It's all fake news...It's called 'fake news...Fake, fake, disgusting news.
Seemingly overnight, President Trump took the phrase 'fake news' and co-opted it to mean news he simply didn't like or news that he didn't want his supporters to hear. It proved to be incredibly effective.
Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post: It's a question of propaganda. You repeat things and you repeat things and you say them different ways and you say them over time and eventually it starts to sink in, an it's the way propaganda works, and I think that's what we're seeing here.
After seeing how discrediting the media got Donald Trump into the White House other politicians around the world saw an opportunity of their own.
Claire Wardle, First Draft: We were just following the Brazil was a common refrain. We see Duterte in the Philippines. We see politicians in the UK and Australia. All sorts of politicians, as a short hand, say "don't believe that, trust me". 
Studies suggest that among Trump supporters trust in the media is at rock bottom. And, towards the end of 2018, the attacks on the press took on an even more aggressive turn: 
Donald Trump: Fake news is in fact, and I hate to say this, in fact, the enemy of the people. 
Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post: Those words, 'enemy of the people', have really taken it to a new level. and... 
Dave Lee (to Margaret Sullivan): (interrupting) To a dangerous level? 
Margaret Sullivan: To a dangerous level, yes, because I think it turns people against journalism as one of the pillars of our democracy. 
Two years since being elected negative stories that might sink any other politician have simply bounced off President Trump. Yet as November's midterm elections drew near some wondered if crying 'fake news' would still have the desired effect. But with the votes in and Trump declaring a success it was very soon business as usual: 
Donald Trump: When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people. Go ahead! That's enough... 
As President Trump roars into the second half of his first term there's no sign he plans to change his winning, and highly divisive, strategy. 
Donald Trump: You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn't be working for CNN.


  1. I think it's good that they draw attention to 'fake news'. Anybody over the age of 20 with an interest in the world has at least an inkling that all is not as it first appears in media land.
    As long as the internet survives their childish attempts to retain their salaries, I'm all for it.
    Go ahead, reveal how it's done !

  2. The infantile nature of the BBC analysis is seen here in all its glory in a "report" from Zoe Kleinman:

    And this is how Zoe responds to someone who says the BBC swallowing the Russiagate fantasy shows they are the purveyors of Fake News:

    "So - instead we should all put our trust someone called MollyWolly8. Glad we cleared that up."

    That kind of response sums it up doesn't it? The BBC are to be considered infallible, like some Medieval Pope. No individual can ever have a superior factual analysis to the BBC.

    When it comes to news I don't "trust" anyone. I trust my own judgement to evaluate what news sources tell me. If someone tells me Kashoggi is simply a journalist, well I like to look a little beneath the surface.

    1. @MB "Trusted source" is a fallacy
      .. each report stands on its own merit, independent of source.

      You look at the message, not the messenger

      eg media makes a claim their is an extraordinary video of Trump, their evidence is "sources say" that is no evidence is it ?

    2. As always, omission is the worst form of bias. The BBC (and the rest of the UK MSM) have steadfastly refused to investigate how the whole Russiagate thing got started. It wasn't just an American thing...there was worldwide involvement of the "5 Eyes" which points to the prime motivator being the CIA. By getting reports from abroad, that gave them clean hands at home and gave the FBI/DoJ a supplied justification for the dodgy FISA warrants.

      You will know none of this if you rely on the BBC who make it all sound like coincidence and happenstance.

      There will always be rumours about prominent figures (think of Edward Heath for one). Some will be true, some won't. If you want to get someone, you just treat rumour as fact or at least "evidence" and proceed on that basis.

      In addition the anti-Trump Deep State was leaking the "reports" based on rumour to favoured conduits in the media. The subsequent media reports were then used as further "evidence". And of course the BBC fell on all this media stuff with alacrity and delight because it was anti-Trump while ignoring all the crimes of the Clintons.

  3. It’s all “shooting the messenger “ isn’t it? Especially as the messenger has political views they don’t like. People are not fools and Trumps attacks on the fake news media have impact exactly because they have a basis that people can see themselves. The BBC has no intention of investigating and will keep on shooting the messenger.

  4. Gawd, talk about propaganda. I'll just address one point.

    "Studies suggest that among Trump supporters trust in the media is at rock bottom."

    No, not just Trump supporters. It's across the board and part of a long term trend. See this Gallup, for example.


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