Thursday, January 05, 2017

WashPost Is Richly Rewarded


What did Baron tell his followers about this editor’s note that gutted the key claims of the story he hyped? Nothing. Not a word.

IN THE PAST six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first [Whoops] note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

But while these debacles are embarrassing for the paper, they are also richly rewarding. That’s because journalists — including those at the Post — aggressively hype and promote the original, sensationalistic false stories, ensuring that they go viral, generating massive traffic for the Post (the paper’s executive editor, Marty Baron, recently boasted about how profitable the paper has become).


After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.

But after that story faced a barrage of intense criticism — from Adrian Chen in the New Yorker (“propaganda about Russia propaganda”), Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone (“shameful, disgusting”), my own article, and many others — including legal threats from the sites smeared as Russian propaganda outlets by the Post’s “independent researchers” — the Post finally added its lengthy editor’s note distancing itself from the anonymous group that provided the key claims of its story (“The Post … does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings” and “since publication of the Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list”).


I've pondered here over the sudden shift of the WaPost from left-leaning to full frontal New York Times. Even created this  header for the Times and WaPost for the occasion. True, I had originally applauded Amazon owner Jeff Bezos's purchase of the paper.  I suppose because I've been a stalwart  Amazon fan*, and assigned him a halo

I fully expected to see the likes of  E.J. Dionne Jr. quickly put to pasture.  Alas, it seems that the Will-Krauthammer group have moved, ever so slightly, in his direction. In the case of  Anti-Trumpism, however, they too often mimic the
Dionne crazies.

So it boils down to this.  Bezos is a genius entrepreneur, and does what he must in order to grow.  In the Baltimore Washington news market, that means cater to the leftist lofo.  In addition, Bezos may see danger to innovations like drone delivery services; and, like other tech companies, who were heavily supported by Obama (climate is a $5 billion industry), he will have lost that lobby.  Well, the New York Times catered to that same market, and are in near bankruptcy. So, there's that. Ahem.
* Disclosure:  I owned 1000 shares of Amazon, purchased at about $8 a share, and dumped it during the when it fell from $107 to $7 almost over night.  It's now in the $700. share neighborhood. But kept my AOL stock. *spit*


renojim said...

Ever notice that Bezos always looks like if he sneezed hard is eyeballs would pop out?

toadold said...

Amazon and Google could end up having to sell off parts due to anti-trust actions. I could see Gmail split off from Google.
Amazon video split off from Kindle books, and etc.

Randy S. said...

I think he has more than a passing resemblance to Lex Luthor, in more ways than one....

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