From Clay Jones on his political cartoon “For Gwen Ifill,” bullshit news, and a lecture on which news is legitimate and which is not
Everyone who uses social media is in a bubble. You’re in a bubble, I’m in a bubble, your mom is in a bubble, and we all know your crazy uncle is in a bubble. The thing about bubbles is that your news feed gives you information that you want to read, whether you are a conservative or a liberal.
Personally, I like to stick my head out of my bubble, which is why I’m friends with very conservative people on Facebook (and quite a few in the real physical world). I get to read the information they’re sharing … or as is often the case, misinformation.
A lot of people, myself included, get their news from social media. I do too, while my TV is also on CNN all day, and I personally subscribe to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Seattle Times. Getting your news from social media could have been a good thing, but it’s turning into a wasteland of fake news, or what I like to refer as “bullshit news.”
The headlines in my cartoon are examples of actual bullshit news. Conservatives reading this may still believe these headlines. They love the crap news, and it’s really hard to shake them when they believe it. If you thought memes with fake quotes and news were bad, it gets even worse with actual fake news sites, and I’m not talking about the satire sites like The Onion. There are sites that pose as ABC, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and such. It’s not always Breitbart, Infowars, and The Daily Caller. It’s very irresponsible. What really gets under my skin are the people who don’t trust the “mainstream” media yet they rely on the bullshit news. Nobody vets on Facebook.
It’s not just conservatives either. If you’re a liberal, you probably saw several memes about how Donald Trump once said if he ever ran for president that he would do it as a Republican because their voters are stupid. Guess what. That’s fake. If you’re a leftie reading this, you might be saying to your computer screen, “Nuh uh!” but I’m telling you, “Uh huh.” Another popular example is one I’ve seen shared by both sides about Obama banning the pledge of allegiance. Someone actually blocked me after I pointed out that story wasn’t true. That person was a liberal. Go figure. Don’t get me started on the stories about all the people Hillary Clinton supposedly killed.
We are in an age where many believe they’re not just entitled to their own opinion but to their own facts. This is where I call bullshit. Journalism is very important to me. It’s important to democracy. While the media is hated more than Congress, Nickelback, grown men who say “anyhoo,” and people who walk too slowly in front of you at the grocery store, I have a high regard for it. Conservatives roll their eyes at me when I express my belief that The Washington Post and CNN are doing a good job. OK, CNN does play the ratings game a bit too much, but I don’t buy the liberal-bias argument.
If you’re a purveyor of the bullshit news, you probably didn’t know who Gwen Ifill was if the news of her death from cancer on Monday fell into your news feed. She never reported that Obama spent trillions of dollars of taxpayer money on a private vacation. Ifill reported real news. Information that was actually true. I’m saddened by her passing for the same reasons I was sad when Tim Russert died. We’re losing very ethical and principled people in our industry, and for many people they’re being replaced by the Steve Bannons of the world. That does more than make me sad. It makes me sick.
Ifill was a highly respected journalist for PBS. She got her start working for newspapers in Boston, Baltimore, and Washington. She moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice-presidential debates. You may remember her being parodied by Queen Latifah on Saturday Night Live when they spoofed the Biden/Palin debate.
Gwen Ifill was only 61, two years older than my mother when she died. That is way too young.
I think it would be great if future journalists would aspire to be more like Ifill than the Steve Bannons or Sean Hannitys of the industry. It’d be really awesome if all those fake newsers on social media would attempt to be more like her, though they probably wouldn’t know where to start.
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