Louisiana floods. Tens of thousands flee their destroyed homes. Billions of dollars in damage. Unknown number of deaths. Huge natural disaster.
But several days in and I’m still running into people who are like, huh? A flood in Louisiana? You mean Hurricane Katrina, right? They haven’t heard a thing about it.
That’s because the American news media looks at every single event and asks itself a few simple questions before they decide how much coverage to give something.
First, is there anything we can milk from this story to bolster our worldview? Y/N
Yes. Cover the shit out of it 24/7 breathless panic attack, and demands that we DO SOMETHING. (said something is almost always give the government more power).
Second, is there anything in this story which could potentially make democrats look bad? Y/N
Yes? What emails? Fuck you.
No? See #3.
Third, is there anything in this story which will make republicans look stupid or evil? Y/N
Yes? Holy shit! Run it! Run it! New Orleans has been utterly destroyed because George Bush controls the weather and hates black people and his incompetence and evil racism has ruined this once beautiful American icon of– (and put that on a loop for the next three weeks)
No? Do we need any filler?
#2 and #3 are for most major media since they predominantly swing left, but for Fox you can just flip the democrat/republican, and they’re just as bad.
Fourth, does this event in some way affect us personally? Y/N
Yes? DROP EVERYTHING! RUN THIS OR WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!
No? Eh… we’ll talk about it for a minute if we’re not too busy.
My favorite example of that last one was from several years ago. Different flood, Tennessee this time. And a river was about to break its banks. About fifty thousand homes were in immediate danger. The news was in the middle of saying which counties needed to run for their lives so as to not drown—
WE INTERUPT THIS REPORT FOR A VERY IMPORTANT BREAKING STORY
And then, I shit you not, the news flipped to Times Square in New York City, where GASP, somebody left a cooler unattended. COULD IT BE A BOMB?! This is literally down the street from our offices, and Dear God, it could be terrorists! We go now live to where the NYPD has moved people away from this Murder Death Bomb and have called in their Bomb Squad in their big scary Hurt Locker suits. Go ahead NYPD Lieutenant!
Bored looking NYPD cop: “Uh, the bomb guys are gonna go poke it. Don’t worry. There’s no need to panic. It’s probably just a cooler that some tourist forgot, which happens like ten thousand times a day here and at every other tourist spot in the world. Odds are it isn’t terrorism, but we always check to make sure. I don’t even know why you’re filming us.”
You heard the NYPD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!
And then they covered it for the next forty minutes straight. With the cameras all pointed at this Styrofoam container LIVE because it is going to BLOW any second! And all of these nervous anchors talking about it in hushed tones while I’m thinking, you know, I’ve got friends in Tennessee, I wonder if they’re running in front of a tidal wave right now? And the news was like FUCK SOUTHERNERS CAN’T YOU SEE THERE IS AN UNATTENDED COOLER HERE WHERE WE LIVE?! Oh, wait… And the NYPD confirms it contains sandwiches.
But then fifteen minutes of analysis about the sandwiches later, and experts pontificating on the fear inherent in unattended sandwiches… what were we talking about before all the excitement? Oh… Yeah… And everybody in Tennessee has died. Very tragic. So anyways, let’s see what this movie star wore to some party none of you were invited to—
If you keep these four simple questions in mind you can predict with quite a bit of accuracy how many minutes of airtime a story gets, the size and position of newspaper columns about it, and how prominent it will be on websites.
Let’s say there was a mass shooting.
#1. The media loves it some gun control, so initial reports will be how we have to DO SOMETHING!
#2. If it turns out to be a white boy off his meds, then they’ll continue to cover the hell out of it. But if it turns out to be a Muslim yelling Allah Akbar right after the democrat president told everybody terror is contained or that if you’re worried about Muslim refugees it can only be because you are racist, then the coverage drops.
#3. Did the current GOP candidate for president say something stupid about the event? (pretty good odds of that!) Let’s talk about his stupid comments about the event instead of the actual event.
#4. All this is moot if it took place somewhere the reporters actually give a damn about. Garland, Texas? Ha!
Change the shooting around. Random good guy shoots the bad guy one minute in? Zero coverage. Which is why when I’m arguing against gun control folks, and I bring up Random Good Guy With Guns making a difference, and they proclaim that never happens, and I immediately list off a dozen… They stare at me blankly. Those events never get reported because of the media world view.
Change it around again. A psycho who has glommed onto Black Lives Matters murders a bunch of cops. That’s a tough one for our noble reporters, because they really want to push gun control, but they’ll let it slip after a day or two so they can go back to their regular narrative about racist cops gunning down choir boys who were just standing on the corner minding their own business.
Are there bad cops making bad shoots? Sure. But you wouldn’t ever know how many because the media is too fucking stupid crying wolf about everything, justified or not, to ever actually delve into anything as complicated as Use of Force laws.
These simple questions explain why some terrorist attacks get covered, and others don’t. If they can spin the terrorist attack to be about gun control, then they’ll cover it a lot. But then when the same exact kind of attack happens in a country that has incredibly strict gun control, it’ll be a human interest tragedy story, which will quickly fade from the American news in a day or two. And if it is a Muslim terrorist attack in a 3rd world country (like the vast majority of them are in reality) then it will get absolutely zero coverage, and very few people in America will have a clue what you’re talking about.
Mumbai? Westgate? Blank stares.
These biased jackasses never come anywhere near the truth. It is all about narratives bolstering existing world views. I’ve been involved in a bunch of news stories over the years, and the resulting reports seldom have anything to do with the reality.
Think about any topic you are an expert on, and then think about how pissed off you get when you see the news fuck it up. Problem is, they suck that much at everything.
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”― Michael Crichton
So we’re all walking around, thinking we’ve got a clue about stuff, when in reality we’ve been fed bullshit by idiots.
The left side of media requires everybody to be secret angry racists (other than them, obviously), and racial incitement makes great TV. So, cop shoots a white dude. Nobody cares. Cop shoots a black dude, before the crime scene people have even finished taking pictures and nobody has a clue what actually happened, it is getting tons of coverage. People get pissed. And if the news gets lucky somebody burns a Walgreens, which makes for great ratings.
If you watch the news you’d think that America was dissolving into this ultra-violent mega crime wave. When in actuality our murder rate is way down (When I was in Europe recently, everybody I talked to thought that America was like Mad Max, which tells me their news sucks as much as ours does) There are a handful of urban areas with lots of violent crime, but the rest of America is actually pretty damned peaceful (probably because we all died in floods the media never covered).
But, see #4. The media is based out of these big urban areas. Which is why they don’t give a shit about Louisiana or the rest of us, unless of course, they can somehow milk our tragedies for political points.
When it comes to politics this bias is taken to an absurd level. There are plenty of legit reasons to despise either presidential candidate. But what is most political coverage about? Stupid minutia, half of which is made up. So when you get into a discussion with a zealot who has been educated by watching their side’s news, the debate turns into clueless garbled soundbytes, and half the time they don’t even have a clue what you’re talking about, because it never made it past #2 or #3 to get covered.
Or worse, it was so big the media had no choice but to cover it, but they did it so flippantly or dismissively that people think it was no big deal, or they go into partisan excuse making damage control mode to minimize it. When in reality it was a colossal fuck up, where if there was any integrity left in the process, the people involved would have gotten tarred and feathered.
No policies are ever looked at based on what they’ll actually do, it is more, rah rah, go team. Notice that when they were trying to pass Obamacare all of the news coverage was sob stories about poor sick people denied coverage? That’s because all of that pesky accounting saying the thing was destined to choke didn’t fit the worldview. And now that it is falling apart (like everybody who could do math predicted it would) is there much coverage? Don’t be silly. Once it implodes I’m sure it will come as a huge shock, which will cause another big crisis which requires them to DO SOMETHING.
This bias is why the news either portrays vets as poor illiterate dupes sucked into the Imperialistic war machine because you couldn’t get real jobs (like a Barista or HuffPo contributor) so somebody needs to DO SOMETHING or you’re a war mongering ticking time bomb of PTSD addled murder rage waiting to explode in an orgy of violence, and somebody needs to DO SOMETHING.
This absurdist, pundit, echo chamber bullshit just keeps getting more and more obnoxious.
Now you assholes can’t even be bothered to talk about one of the biggest natural disasters in recent history, because it might somehow smear your dude.
And after all this, the American news media is simply baffled that nobody trusts them anymore. No shit, Sherlock. That’s because you suck. The sooner you dinosaur hacks plod off and die from shitty ratings, the better off we’ll all be.