Friday, February 3, 2017

Misinformation

I cannot tell you how many of my friends talk to me about people being uninformed these days. Despite the plethora of news via social media and other technology, people tend not to read anymore. Instead, they look at a headline, make a rash judgment, and share the news wihtout actually having read the actual article they are promoting or condemning. And really, I see this behavior from left leaners, centrists, right wingers, and everyone else. I've even done it myself once or twice, but I learned long ago that being uninformed or misinformed is a state I'd rather not inhabit. So I try my best not to do it.

Well, the other day, I found a very disturbing headline attached to a post I read on--where else?--Facebook. And my first inclination was to yell out, "I don't think so!" But my second thought was to click on the article and see what it had to say. So, I did just that.

Screen shot of the post.

Come to find out, a little video was attached, along with a transcript of what Sean Spicer said in the interview. I'm copying the transcript here, so you can read it and make a judgment for yourself:
SEAN SPICER: Well I think -- there is this -- what I get frustrated with is the double standard in rush to click instead of get it right. Look we all make mistakes. I make them all the time. And I think that what has happened is there is this predisposition in the media to, especially with this president to assume he can't do certain things. He wasn't going to run, he's wasn't going to file, he couldn't win a primary, he wasn't going to get of the field, that he couldn't win Michigan, he wouldn't win Iowa, why is he wasting his time in Pennsylvania? Then he didn't win this. And this vote was going to happen and now the nominees aren't going to get through. In every case, he's  defied the odds and won. And I think the interesting thing is, at some point, the disposition should be he is going to do it unless we can prove otherwise. He has shown through every step of the way that he's going to win. And so it just seems to me it's just odd that if those are the odds, if you are looking at his track record, the track record is a proven track record of success and winning. And yet, the media's default is on every scenario, whether it's hasn't nominees getting through or winning a primary or him accomplishing something,its immediately negative and a failure.
What? Even though I'm no fan of either Spicer or Trump, I certainly did not hear Spicer say that we should "assume Trump is correct unless we can prove otherwise." Did you? Really, did you? Because if you did, I want to know. I want to understand how I can come to one conclusion and you another.

And what was my conclusion? I'll tell you, just as I told my friend who posted the link, as well as Media Matters (I sent them an email shortly after I read the transcript):
For the record, I listened to this interview and just read the transcript. This is what was said, "...the disposition should be he is going to do it unless we can prove otherwise. He has shown through every step of the way that he's going to win. And so it just seems to me it's just odd that if those are the odds, if you are looking at his track record, the track record is a proven track record of success and winning." That is very different from the headline, which in my opinion is somewhat misleading. What Spicer said is that Trump will go ahead and do whatever he wants to do, and that most likely, he will manage to do it. In my opinion that is not the same as Trump being "correct unless they prove otherwise." I'm a little saddened that Media Matters printed a headline like that. 
Of course, Media Matters didn't email me back, but I checked their site to see if they'd changed the title. And sure enough, this is what I found.

Screen shot of the article.

Gah! That still doesn't give the truth of what Spicer said. Again, if you read the transcript, it says, "the disposition should be he is going to do it unless we can prove otherwise." Meaning, Trump will do it (whatever IT is) regardless of whether or not people want him to. Or, don't assume he won't do it, because he will.

I went to look at the Media Matters website and to see what it is all about. As far as I understood, it was a media outlet that tended to lean to the left. I should also add, although I lean left, it is not a website I usually go to for reliable news. And I'm glad that I don't, for this is what they had on their about page (bolded emphasis mine):
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. 
Launched in May 2004, Media Matters for America put in place, for the first time, the means to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation - news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda - every day, in real time. 
Using the website mediamatters.org as the principal vehicle for disseminating research and information, Media Matters posts rapid-response items as well as longer research and analytic reports documenting conservative misinformation throughout the media. Additionally, Media Matters works daily to notify activists, journalists, pundits, and the general public about instances of misinformation, providing them with the resources to rebut false claims and to take direct action against offending media institutions.
Conservative misinformation? Yeah, I think Media Matters needs to put their money where there mouth is, don't you?

2 comments:

S. B. House said...

That headline certainly conveys the wrong message! And that about page... why don't they just come out and say, it's only the conservative side of the political arena that's responsible for misinformation. I've never gotten my news from Media Matters... and I don't think I'll be turning to them anytime soon.

Christina said...

I agree with you. I really despise it when someone implies that the other side is the only one that disseminates misinformation, and that's exactly what they do. It goes both ways, people! I haven't relied on these guys yet for info, and you're right...I won't be going there anytime soon, either.