Let’s Play Journalism, and Make Fake News

This journalism thingie has gotten so easy, anyone can do it. Let’s play make the fake news funtime!

The elderly may remember the Old Journalism. Back in BT (Before Trump) journalists in mainstream outlets had to gather facts (i.e., true things) from sources (people with names who knew true things) that would withstand fact-checking (looking stuff up, or having a second source confirm stuff.) If you quoted something already established as a fact, you were obligated to link to it.

There were notably exceptions. For example, in 2003, the New York Times simply “believed” everything it was told about Iraq having massive destructive weapons and typed it into the paper. FYI: The Times assisted in generating enthusiasm for the Iraq invasion, helping kill 5,000 Americans and perhaps one million Iraqis! Media such as the National Enquirer and gossip blogs would just make things up, aliens and Bigfoot and all that, but it was with a wink and everyone knew it was fake and for fun.

Then Shazaam! Every media in America miscalled the election for Clinton while Trump won. Media collectively got a sad. They did not know what to do. Certainly admitting they screwed up was not in the cards, nor was accepting that Trump won and moving on. So, they invented Newer Journalism.

It works this way. A reporter, say from the Washington Post, calls up someone who works at say, the State Department, or is called by someone who wants to leak something. It is always bad news about Trump. The reporter types it up word-for-word, and then publishes it to the world as a true thing. In the story the source is anonymous, so no one knows if the reporter spoke to an intern on her third day, or just made it all up. But, and this is important, that doesn’t matter! All that matters is that it is bad news, the more bombastic the better.

From there other media simply repeat the story. But it gets better, because the next media in line says “The Washington Post reports sources inside the Trump administration say…” allowing some crappy blog to inherit whatever credibility the WaPo still clings to. But, and this is important, that doesn’t matter! Because the article will be saying something readers want to believe (“White House policy making is in disarray, everyone will resign by Thursday.”)

Now Thursday will roll around and everyone has not resigned, but, and this is important, that doesn’t matter! The media has moved on to the next story and who the hell goes back and reads last week’s Tweets anyway. Repeat.

The way Trump is being covered reminds me of so-called reporting out of North Korea, or the Cold War Soviet Union. Reporters claimed they could not reveal their sources, and every tiny scrap of an event was inflated into Deep Meaning. Every story warned of catastrophic consequences to follow, that never did. But that’s what Americans wanted to believe about those two countries, and it sold (in those days) newspapers.

So let’s try it. Keep in mind this is entirely made up, especially if you see it reprinted on Rawstory or HuffPo as fact.

Sources inside the State Department who are otherwise not authorized to speak to the media report that rank-and-file diplomats remain dismayed at the treatment given them by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Many are quietly talking about ways to resist, some even going as far as suggesting mass resignations may occur. Some liken it to a Constitutional crisis that could upset an already fragile democracy.

The diplomats – many of whom signed the recent letter of dissent over Trump’s Muslim Ban – claim that Tillerson has not held a full staff meeting since taking office, preferring to work only with a tight circle of advisors from the campaign whom he has dubbed the “Trump Centaurians.” These Centurians have been described as politically motivated, watching Tweets out of the White House for policy guidance.

“They have no idea what they are doing,” said one senior diplomat. “These are people with zero experience inside government talking down to experienced Russia hands in my office. One of these so-called Centaurians used to work for Ivanka’s clothing line. God help us, she’s now in charge of energy policy across the MidEast. It is chaos, pure chaos. Period. Full stop.”

In response to Tillerson, State Department officials have begun to slow-walk requests from the Secretary’s office, with some going as far as withholding information for fear it might be shared with the Kremlin. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of people go critical and simply punch out one day,” stated another seasoned diplomat. “And I’m hearing the same thing from friends inside the NSC. I’ve never seen it this bad before, and it’ll get worse.”

Tillerson’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

See? That took me about ten minutes to crank out. Lunchtime.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

  • Don

    The 2003 setup of Iraq is a poor example because in reality it wasn’t fake news. It was manufactured propaganda before it became news. Powell’s display at the UN was the faking for all to see and was backed by evidence from US intelligence.
    Then, the news that covered it was very real on the part of the media. Peter is a little too anxious to get another story out and hasn’t thought through the case he intended to build. That would mostly be, the MSM or even fringe media producing fake news.

  • BrotherJonah

    That’s where qualifiers like “in my” experience or opinion or faith comes in handy. The Enquirer is very much pro-Trump but they have headlines like last week “Obama has secret plan to impeach Trump” and a couple of weeks before the inauguration “Secret Summit with Putin and Trump and how they plan to DESTROY China!” The “DESTROY” part is actually something Trump says a lot. Along with “you’re fired!”

    Oh, and another from the Enquirer, “Revealed: Trump’s Secret List of enemies (mostly movie and television actors) and how he’s going to get his Revenge!”

    Of course vengeance is reserved for actual wrongs committed against you.
    The dude got into the highest elected position in America with not only less votes than Hillary but overall votes. Neither he nor Hillary got a majority so no actual mandate either way. Me typing that is interpreted by some scream merchants as “persecuting” Trump.

    The boy was never persecuted just like he never worked a day in his life.
    He needs to dial that bill shut down a bit.

  • Mork

    Spot on. Media outlets have only been parroting the Beltway point of view since Trump was elected. In no way have they been spoon-feeding us unvetted neocon propaganda since at least 9/11. Not at all. It’s only a recent phenomenon, with very few examples before 1/20/17.

  • BrotherJonah

    Fake News purveyor NewsMax says we’re seditious.

    That we, the non-compliant, by resisting the leadership of His Holy
    Majesty, are the ones sowing discord. O, how can the Peasants reject
    their Political Savior? Do they not realize that

    A deo rex, a rege lex.

    From God, the king; from the king, the law.

    Rex est lex, animata et loquens

    The King IS the law, living and speaking?

    and my favorite of course is Dennis the Anarchist in the low budget 1975 classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Strange ladies lying in puddles distributing swords is no basis for kingship! True executive authority comes from a mandate from the masses, not some farcical aquatic ceremony!”

  • BrotherJonah

    Here’s one that’s NOT fake. A pig loving racist punk committed vehicular assault at a DAPL protest in Los Angeles, and didn’t get charged.

    Instead the Fox News Everybody Support The Fascist Agenda community of
    sheer COWARDS are applauding the anti-American assault.

    It should be
    noted that the il Douche Mussolini clone in the White House doesn’t call
    it a Right Wing terrorist attack.
    And the Pipeline protesters have not
    once assaulted the militarist pigs who are running the Pipeline, a
    subsidized Corporate Welfare giveaway to pampered prissy Billionaire
    punks.

    Like Trump.

    Pigs only protect the rich.

    For those who lack vast personal wealth, and aren’t mindless slaves of the Billionaire Elitist Country Club, vehicular assault is called by other names as well, make several charges out of one.

    Like Attempted Murder.

    If it had been a pipeline protester doing the demented demonic driving, and the target of his bumper was a line of cops or National Guard PIGS it would have been Attempted Murder and Aggravated Assault, one count of each, for each and every PIG in the vicinity. With or without the car making contact.

    This is the same Republican Party and their Loyalist Minions who gave us the massacre at Kent State. Bunch of right wing extremist pukes.

  • BrotherJonah

    of course, one aspect is that the Military, intelligence, Diplomatic Corps, and the large corporations do things in a level of police protected privacy the vast majority of Americans or anybody else can’t attain. Not legally at least. And it’s reciprocal, the ones in Right Wing Corporate Media and Left Wing Corporate Media, well, they all or most fall under the 1%. Trump has investments in the “media” to whom he openly shows his contempt. And who can say, accurately, that Assange and Snowden don’t have a status of double or triple or any multiple level of “agent”? Or for that matter, any of us?

    There’s a theme amongst the Left that Obama was bought. What level of bribery does it to buy a billionaire? Other than the reported bankruptcies of Trump businesses. Who paid off his share of the debt? The casino affair might be a clue, it would be to me at least. Obama was/is one of the really rare (despite the “land of opportunity” Rising Middle Class, or so say the ones who also tell us that America is a “free” country where the Military Police State Pigs don’t blow away civilians in America or abroad. But, say, somebody with a not very high level of wealth has a sudden cash shortfall, and some shadowy personages offer to make that little problem go away?

    Back to Trump. A Casino? Really? The dude writes and speaks of business risks as “a gamble” and what if that’s literal? that’s a question and not a proven fact.

    I, like any good political activist, have associates who occasionally stray to the dark side. Some into drugs, because I used to do that.

    And some into gambling.Of the two vices, and a lot of people have both, gambling is the most expensive. A person who shared our living quarters in the 80s, for a few weeks, more like perhaps 2 weeks…. applied for 14 credit cards in 14 invented or stolen names, at the same address which happened to also be ours, (This is a long setup, but important) and got them. Then maxed them out in a couple of days. It’s just like investing, only it’s on the quasi legal (but so is wall street) methods of gambling. The place was El Paso and there is race track right across the Rio from the west side of El Paso, Sunland Park (it’s a couple of miles, walking distance, from the Black Bridge, right where the Rio starts being the Border, and it’s right by Columbus as in where Doroteo Aranga aka Pancho Villa raided and then embarrassed Pershing’s army all over Northern Mexico)
    Race tracks in Juarez and if you want to use a little gas go up to Ruidoso Downs…

    He was broke the next day. Then he got a job working for a famous chain of hotels in downtown El Paso. You remember the guy on A-Team “Face”? Yeah, he’s like that or was. He could con the masters. The hotel manager, after a very few days, gave him the keys to a company van and a five digits amount of cash to take to the bank about 3 blocks away. They found the van at a used car lot in Phoenix about 3 weeks later and we got a call from a jail somewhere in Nevada. That’s an illustration. If you had a billion dollars, more or less, to lose, mad money or whatever. Say you wanted to spend it on Dope of any kind, mostly for your own consumption, you wouldn’t be able, even with a couple hundred friends toking it up with you. Drugs have an upper level where the nature of it cuts off any further consumption. It’s called an overdose.

    Gambling, on the other hand, including Wall Street investment, doesn’t have such a cut-off level. They’ll even give you credit, to a point, if you have money Or Some Other Consideration Of Value… like, for instance, a cozy relationship with the New York Courts.

    So, speculation, which we probably won’t get a straight answer, how do you blatantly break the New York Riot Act by advocating the lynching, mostly on Racial Lines, of people who were actually finally proven Not Guilty? He advocated murder which would have caused a race war in New York. And he reiterated that call to action at least twice during the election, AND brags about stealing by fraud a very large sum of money IN NEW YORK, real estate fraud against the people and government of Libya.

    How does one get away with that? Simple, and I WILL state this as a fact.

    The New York Courts and Prosecutors, are entirely corrupt and any judge in the whole state would prostitute him/herself to a Rich Bitch like Trump any day or any time of day or not. He bought his way out.

    With the help of the entire Police and Court Establishment in New York, and he got and still gets away with any crime he commits, even in Federal court, I’m fairly certain he could have called Scalia or any other Supreme Court so called “Justice” to come over and suck his c*** and he probably did.

    He (closer to home) did the same for the State Judge he nominated for the Supremes. See, I’m in Colorado. They have laws here where you could be put in jail indefinitely for “contempt”. Except for the Very Rich who own the Contemptible Courts. Like the Bush family, the Koch Suckers, Trump….

    At what point do we owe them a “fair trial”? knowing full well they didn’t get their money using ethical standards of any kind.