Monday, January 16, 2017

Is the Washington Post becoming yet another 'fake news' leader?

I used to have moderate respect for the Washington Post.  It was clearly left-wing in orientation as far as US politics were concerned, but it appeared to work towards at least some semblance of balance;  and, where it didn't, one could usually 'read between the lines' of its reportage to get at the root of the matter.

Since the election of Donald Trump, that seems to have changed.  Two recent examples in particular have caught my eye.  The first was the Post's insistence that a Russian 'operation' had 'hacked' a Vermont power utility.  It's since corrected the article, but only after days of prodding by other news sources, demonstrating conclusively that the report was inaccurate.  The second, just a couple of days ago, was the alleged 'removal' from office of the commanding officer of Washington D.C.'s National Guard, in the middle of the inauguration festivities.  It rapidly emerged that he had not been 'removed' by the incoming Trump administration at all;  in fact, the transition team had offered him the chance to stay on for Inauguration Day, but he had himself insisted on leaving at the scheduled hour.

If the Washington Post continues in this vein, it'll rapidly become as untrustworthy - and distrusted - as the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times, which is not only a shadow of its former self as a newspaper, but is almost a parody of its own slogan - "All The News That's Fit To Print".  It now appears to print verbatim only the news that fits its political, social, economic and ideological agenda, and slant everything else until it does fit that agenda.  If the WaPo goes down that road, it'll end up as a parody of a news site - a little like the editor of Buzzfeed insisting that his outlet's publication of the fake Trump dossier was appropriate, while appearing on CNN, another outlet that publicized the fake dossier.  Talk about the pot and the kettle getting together, to call everyone else black . . .

One wonders whether the editors and owner of the Washington Post really want that to happen to their newspaper.  If they do, they may find it backfires on them rather spectacularly, not only as far as the Trump administration is concerned, but in terms of the reactions of ordinary Americans.



trailbee said...

My opinion: The election of Donald Trump has brought such fragmentation and chaos into the news business, that it is no longer accepted business as usual. You can't run a major money-making mudraker with tweets. And that is what most of these old/"traditional" papers are getting. Tweets! It's a disorganized field at present, which demands patience and insight, both of which are in short supply in this newspaper business. They are being outpaced by the internet and Twitter. Must be frustrating.

Mr. Krusty said...

Follow the Money.

WaPo --> Bezos --> Amazon--> Cheap Chinese Products

Trump--> Fair trade --> Less cheap, Chinese Products

Bezos is hurting himself with the WaPo. People will start doing the math. As much as I like Amazon, I don't want my political choices framed by it, especially if it's being done wrongfully/incorrectly.

Retired Mustang said...

The tendency to jump to conclusions is not limited to publications like WaPo. It rears its head regularly in the "Patriot" communities. A number of them were all over the resignation of the general as indications of an effort to prepare the ground for effective disruptions of the Trump inauguration and the peaceful transition of power. People toward both ends of the political spectrum and for whatever reason, seem to prefer the idea of conspiracy rather than the more reasonable idea that sometimes things just happen.

Javahead said...

The NYT's current model has morphed to "All the fits we print as News". The Post seems to be aiming at the same target.

Mark Matis said...

Their mottos, Javahead, is actually:

All the "news" that fits our views!

and that holds for EVERY media outlet today. Including Fox and WSJ. Or do you not recognize that they wave the Rove Republican flag???

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This goes back 40+ years; not so very long after college I participated in a very public event in D.C., covered by a substantial portion of the local media. That evening the TV folks gave us very brief mention, so the next morning I scoured the Post for their coverage. I wound up calling the reporter whose byline ran over the story and inquired is a stringer had covered the event for him because the printed account not only sounded like a completely different event, it took a rather negative tone. He replied that he was there, and when he described what he had been wearing I remembered him seated in the front row (I had been either on the stage or at the podium the entire event). The discussion ended with him saying "I reported what i saw."

What trust I may have had in media immediately evaporated.

I understand differences in perception, but traditionally the media has been charged with the mission of minimizing those differences to present as unbiased an account of events as is reasonably possible, and identifying them when present. Such, unfortunately, has not been the case for quite some time in the U.S., and the bias has become more deliberate, and emphatic, in recent decades.

Which makes me wonder about Bezos. I do not know what drove him to aquire a major stake in a very obviously declining industry; my first assumption was nefarious intent, and it remains so. What is he up to? It makes me scrutinize even more closely all Amazon-produced (or provided) content for potential negative purpose.

Joseph said...

After this last election, I don't trust the media to report the truth at all any more. It is nothing but propaganda and filler.

Roy said...

"This goes back 40+ years..."

Forty years? Try at least 150 years - or more. Read what General William T. Sherman wrote about "newspapermen" during the Civil War.

It's as true today as it was then.