A guy who has been a hack, a flack, and a prof tells us what we suspected …
Journalists, on the other hand, usually treat anything as true if someone in a position of ostensible authority is willing to say it, even anonymously (and if no one is going to sue over it). The accuracy of anyone’s statement, particularly if that person is a public official, is often deemed irrelevant. If no evidence is available for an argument a journalist wishes to include in a story, then up pop weasel words such as “it seems” or “some claim” to enable inclusion of the argument, no matter how shaky its foundation in reality. What’s more, too many journalists believe that their job description does not require them to adjudicate between competing claims of truth. Sure, there are “two sides”—and only two sides—to every story, according to the rules of objectivity. But if both sides wish to deploy lies and other forms of deliberate deception for their own purposes, well, that’s somebody else’s problem.- Eric Alterman, “The Professors, The Press, The Think Tanks—And Their Problems,” Academe Online, (May/June 2011)
Reflection: Unfortunately, he then goes on to blame “right wing billionaires” for distortion. The simple fact is that the Internet lets people read what they want to, not what their moral and intellectual superiorsTM think is good for them.
The Internet was was invented by computer nerds who just wanted to solve a practical problem back in the late 1960s, of transferring data from one computer to another – in the days when everyone programmed his own computer.
No, really. That’s how it started. But it turned out everyone wanted to transfer data of some kind. Almost all the problems attributed to the new media are more properly attributed to the “devices and desires” of the human heart. The Internet lets a person be what he is, for better or worse. How long it will last, who knows? But it is the best tool ever for gauging true interest levels, and leaving people with the consequences of their own choices.