Thursday, February 22, 2024

You can no longer believe almost any news reports at all


Elon Musk put his finger on the pulse of one of our biggest problems in a recent tweet.

He's absolutely correct, of course.  There's so much propaganda, counter-propaganda and fabrication flying around that to determine the accuracy (or otherwise) of any claim, report or description is almost impossible for average Joes and Janes like you and I.

A few examples, some well-known, some obscure:

  • The Wellness Company (TWC) encourages us to "Get well and stay well with solutions designed by top doctors".  It boasts some very well-known names among its experts, including some of the leading lights of resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine - something that lends it credibility among those who regard COVID-19 as a manufactured illness designed to help Big Brother become even bigger and more ubiquitous.  It's also advertising on right-of-center Web sites such as Zero Hedge.  On the other hand, it's been alleged that TWC is a false front:  "... a closer look into this company reveals the involvement of some very questionable individuals. This, in turn, leads to explosive revelations regarding close ties to Big Pharma, and deep connections to the intelligence community ... "  That's all very well, except that the author of those allegations is a self-proclaimed "community organizer" who's written some very anti-right-wing, anti-conservative articles.  Is she an objective, trustworthy source?  Do we believe the company, or its detractors?
  • As we saw yesterday, there are allegations that President Trump is using and exploiting the controversy over court rulings against him to bolster the value of his shareholding in a social media company.  Is this deliberate on his part, or is it something over which he has no control?  His detractors allege the former;  his supporters would adamantly deny that.  Who's telling the truth?  Similarly, a prosecutor in Georgia pursues President Trump for alleged violations of the law - but she is herself tarnished by allegations that she has abused her office and her position in such a way that make her impartiality suspect, to put it very mildly.  Indeed, the entire justice system in that Georgia county raises all sorts of ethical and moral dilemmas - or does it?  Is the negative reporting about it as politically biased as the allegations against President Trump are said to be?  Who decides?  Meanwhile, who do we believe?
  • The war between Russia and Ukraine delivers far more propaganda than fact.  Reports from different sources insist that one side or the other is winning;  that one side or the other is guilty of atrocities;  that one side or the other is more or less corrupt than the other;  that weapons, technology, manpower and other issues favor one side more than the other.  Such reports are ubiquitous and unceasing - and we can't believe any of them, because neither side (not to mention their supporters) has any interest in telling the truth.  The "fog of war" is something they're both exploiting to bolster their propaganda position.  Neither side is trustworthy, and there are no truly independent, objective witnesses to report the facts.
  • News media are all too often not "news" media at all.  They may have few, if any, journalists on their own staff.  Instead, they disseminate "news" that comes from a central corporate office, which in turn may be influenced by advertisers, politicians and corporate management.  The video below provides a very well-known example of such central control.

So, how do we determine what's worth believing, and what is merely another attempt to blind, mislead and deceive us?  Here's what I do when the subject is important to me (I can't possibly do it for everything, or I'd be busy all day, every day, doing nothing but digging for details!).

  • I make sure to read up to half a dozen news sources every day, spread evenly across the political and ideological spectrum, so as to get different perspectives on the same events or reports.  In particular, I read reports from overseas news media as much as I do US media.  It's interesting (and eye-opening) how a report about events in, say, Japan looks from a US perspective versus its reporting in Japanese media - not to mention how foreign media view developments in the USA.  Who's right?
  • I never trust any single source.  If I can corroborate a report from at least two or three other sources, I give it a certain amount of credence;  more so if they're from different ideological positions, less so if they all think and report the same way.
  • It takes time for the truth to come out.  Reports in the first 24-48 hours after an incident are often only partly accurate, because they don't have access to all the information.  I prefer to wait at least 72 hours before making up my mind, because that gives time for more details to emerge.
  • If a report is found largely in outlets of one particular ideology or political viewpoint, but not in others, I tend to distrust it instinctively.  If it's that real, that factual, why isn't it being reported across the board?  In the same way, if one perspective affirms it unthinkingly while the other denies it (equally unthinkingly), it's much more likely to be propaganda than fact.  I have to get clear of the "smoke and mirrors" and ignore the hype if I want to learn the truth.
  • I try to steer clear of media that provide mostly opinions on or interpretations of the news, instead of reporting it factually.  Unfortunately, there are precious few of the latter these days.  That means I may have to rely on media that are influenced by partisan perspectives - which means I have to identify that perspective ahead of time, and read their report(s) with that "weighting" or slant in mind.  I think the late President Reagan put it very wisely in a different context:  "Trust - but verify."
  • I never, ever believe any statement by a politician unless I've checked, double-checked and rechecked it for accuracy.  As H. L. Mencken warned us:  "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."  Our present politicians (with one or two honorable exceptions, but only one or two) live down to his dictum.
Finally, I cling to the late Robert Heinlein's wisdom as I would to a lifeboat in a storm at sea.

What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

Amen!  Unfortunately, the chances of getting those facts from any single news report today are slender, to say the least.  It takes effort if we want to know the truth - but without that effort, we won't know the facts at all.  We'll be navigating blind through thick fog, not knowing where we are or where we're headed - and that's potentially deadly.



Ray - SoCal said...

It’s a lot of work trying to figure out the truth. It’s so frustrating I have to do this, and fight the constant propaganda aimed at me.

It’s made me into a very skeptical and non trusting person of “experts” and ”institutions” and I’m always asking what agenda are they pushing and why.

I was a much more trusting person before Trump was President and Covid.

These tweets by Navalny comparing his persecution to Trump upset me a lot. I’m in shock at the double system of justice, and lawfare against Trump and his associates:

Greg said...

I have a deep fondness for contrarian opinions, and I've been saying for many years that our modern "information" age is a wonderful, if brutal, exercise in epistemology. To whit: "How do you know what you think you know, and WHY on God's green earth do you WANT to believe that???"
Like your approach to anything purporting to be "news", I try to assign varying levels of credence to everything I see or read. NOTHING rates 100%. Most everything in media or on the internet rates less that 50%, sometimes much less, until corroborated from many diverse sources as you do.
I also am concerned that in any form of total collapse scenario, my sources of information will likely shrink to shouting distance from the front porch. In that case, my best information source will be the "little, old church ladies" grapevine network, a resource not to be underestimated. I do my best to stay on good terms with them.

lpdbw said...

If a report is found largely in outlets of one particular ideology or political viewpoint, but not in others, I tend to distrust it instinctively. If it's that real, that factual, why isn't it being reported across the board?

The problem with this approach is that there is a concerted effort by Google, YouTube, all the news media, and pre-Elon Twitter to suppress, downplay, and outright censor news that doesn't fit the narrative.

Dr. Boz, a well known keto diet maven, recently discovered the fishiness with the Covid "vaccine", and is suddenly being shadowbanned, demonetized, and censored. Her crime? She analyzed a recently released peer-reviewed paper that was critical of the clot shots.

You make the mistake of believing that the news media is interested in reporting facts and truth.

Aesop said...

The biggest problem is that the media's chief interest isn't reporting facts, but manufacturing them, and obfuscating the actual ones, for whatever ends.

The Old Testament concept of publicly stoning to death false prophets ought to be reinstated.
In fact, it probably will be. I'm looking forward to the day.

Anonymous said...

Was watching Fox News this am. Almost daily reports about how bad Tick Tock is for America, its children, how TickTock spies on all of us. Tick Tock is doing big ads on Fox News. This stuff is not news. It’s entertainment.

Rib said...

I would add one more item to your list of “caveats”. In my professional, military, and personal life, I’ve found that if I know anything about the item under discussion, I have rarely (if ever) read a news article purporting to be a factual account, that wasn’t in fact a misrepresentation, either willful or unwitting. In other words, even if journalists try to tell the truth, they usually muck it up. (And that’s the polite version),

michigan doug said...

Lies Lies Damn Lies.

Jess said...

All major media outlets have an agenda. To make things worse, they promote journalists that promote their agenda. Unfortunately, too many people don't have a clue of how they're manipulated, and the result on their perception of current events. In my opinion, the only solution is to remove those that teach propaganda, but that requires more effort on those that have children in public schools or universities. Until there is a strong effort to do this, the current system of "journalism" will continue.

J. said...

We all know that some people and some institutions bleed bad information incessantly. But let's look at the receiving end for a minute--Paul Simon said it the simplest and the best in The Boxer--"...still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest..." How objective can we honestly be?

Michael said...

6 families OWN some 90% of the world's media. They are in the form of Corporations, but those Corporations are majority owned by those families.

Those families run in the same social circles, go to each others Bar Mitzvahs and Weddings and indeed like the Royalty of Old they intermarry.

Information is Power. Think For Yourself. CAUTION: proper use of the brain is not endorsed by federal governments nor huge corporations involved in serious financial profit from a brainwashed and enslaved population. Mild discomfort may occur as confusing independent thought challenges popular views of the world.
Timothy Leary

Anonymous said...

Pray to God. Ask for wisdom. Listen to that sometimes small voice of the Holy Spirit. Walk in the light of Christ Jesus.
Practicing discernment is good and not to be dismissed. But it is only one piece of how to be.

Be at peace, anxious for nothing.
Give thanks. Rejoice endlessly.

I'm not kidding, this is how I navigate the world. There is nothing new under the sun. What we see before us today is not new. Its not even a new twist.
Get the larger view, don't fret about this perturbation of that event.

Merlin said...


"It takes time for the truth to come out. Reports in the first 24-48 hours after an incident are often only partly accurate, because they don't have access to all the information. I prefer to wait at least 72 hours before making up my mind, because that gives time for more details to emerge."

Don't discount the first reports. In the rush to be first, the "news" sometimes reports things as they are, before they have a chance to "adjust" their reporting to fit the narrative.

Nate Winchester said...

Peter you want to be even more paranoid?

Check out just how far back fake news goes.

HMS Defiant said...

There were the 51 Intelligence Community bigwigs that all lied and verified that the Hunter Biden laptop story was only Russian progaganda. Srsly, anybody who believes the government or former government or military spokesmen or business and industry spokesmen is a real idiot.
As Rip wrote, when you know about a thing and then you see reporters talk about that thing you see that they invariably get that thing wrong and crosswise. Knowing that they got that wrong why would you think they get anything correct.
All that and nobody even has to breath the words conspiracy theory.....

audeojude said...

I have been involved in various incidents that made the news or was present for them if not involved since 1985 while in the Philipines during the coup between Marcos and Aquino to the present.

Not once have I seen those events portrayed accurately. Most just filtered through the wacky filters of the reporter. Often filtered through the agenda of the reporting organization and more often that I care for utter fabrications pushed by our government. I quit giving expert interviews after the first couple. Friend of mine that did a lot of interface with media told me that they will always make you look fat and like an idiot no matter what buy the time they have edited the interview.

Most notorious case i was involved in was blaming someone for criminal acts that they didn't commit at an fbi level. I'm pretty sure they did do something criminal involving the virus/worm but the company I worked at at the time were the ones that found out who created it and we leaked it over time to the FBI and other law enforcement as we felt it would be dangerous to our health to be the ones to go public with that info. This was over 20 years ago. The story that made the news a few months later blamed the wrong people. They might have actually used the worm someone else created but they weren't the ones that created it. We had tracked the house and name of the guy that actually wrote it in Russia but Russia was never mentioned when people here in the us were charged.

Never never expect that what you hear on the news is the truth.