Media: The Associated Press Gets a Taste of Its Own Medicine
Posted by addisethiopia on May 15, 2013
Associated Press feels the wrath of the Orwellian police state government it helped put into power
Associated Press reporters are outraged over recent revelations that the Obama administration engaged in a “sweeping seizure” of the private phone records of AP reporters as part of a Justice Department investigation. No probable cause was given to anyone, and hundreds of AP reporters were simply deemed guilty by the government as their phone call records were confiscated without explanation.
Politico is now reporting:
The behind-the-scenes anger — and heads-down determination of the AP staff members to keep doing their jobs amid the extraordinary public flap — comes as top executives from the wire service have mounted an aggressive public pushback against DOJ, calling its snooping a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” in a letter fired off to Attorney General Eric Holder. And yet something of a bunkerlike atmosphere has taken hold at the AP in Washington with no bureau-wide meetings or announcements about the DOJ’s action, AP sources told POLITICO.
But what’s not being reported is that the Associated Press helped create the very police state it now condemns for violating its freedoms and privacy.
How AP helped build a tyrannical government
Over the last several years, AP has come down on the side of big government on practically every story, routinely attacking the Bill of Rights, demonizing protectors of the Constitution and endorsing government monopolies over everything from health care to the money supply.
The AP, in fact, falsely refers to itself as a “news organization” when the truth is that it has functioned far more like a big government propaganda mouthpiece that anything resembling independent news reporting.
In addition, the AP all but declared war on alternative medicine back in 2009, and their reporters openly and willfully lie about water fluoridation, yet another big government program to poison the people.
The AP apparently thought that if it went along with the tyranny, it would be given a pass by the oppressive, criminal government now in power in the United States of America. But they were wrong: Going along with the police state does not make you immune to it, and now the AP is coming to learn that the hard way.
Suddenly the AP is crying wolf
What is Media Manipulation?–A Definition and Explanation
If you don’t know, you should. Because media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. Everything.
In the old days, we only had a few threats to fear when it came to media manipulation: the government propagandist and the hustling publicist. They were serious threats, but vigilance worked as a clear and simple defense. They were the exceptions rather than the rule—they exploited the fact that the media was trusted and reliable. Today, with our blog and web driven media cycle, nothing can escape exaggeration, distortion, fabrication and simplification.
I know this because I am a media manipulator. My job was to use the media to make people do or think things they otherwise would not. People like me are there, behind the curtain, pulling the puppet strings. But that is about to get harder: I’m spilling my secrets to you and turned my talents from exploiting media vulnerabilities to exposing them—for your benefit.
When the news is decided not by what is important but by what readers are clicking; when the cycle is so fast that the news cannot be anything else but consistently and regularly incomplete; when dubious scandals scuttle election bids or knock billions from the market caps of publicly traded companies; when the news frequently covers itself in stories about ‘how the story unfolded’—media manipulation is the status quo. It becomes, as Daniel Boorstin, author The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, once put it, a “thicket …which stands between us and the facts of life.
Today the media—driven by blogs—is assailed on all sides, by the crushing economics of their business, dishonest sources, inhuman deadlines, pageview quotas, inaccurate information, greedy publishers, poor training, the demands of the audience, and so much more. These incentives are real, whether you’re the Huffington Post or CNN or some tiny blog. They warp everything you read online—and let me tell you, thumbnail-cheating YouTube videos and paid-edit Wikipedia articles are only the beginning.
Everyone is in on the game, from bloggers to non-profits to marketers to the New York Times itself. The lure of gaming you for clicks is too appealing for anyone to resist. And when everyone is running the same racket, the the line between the real and the fake becomes indistinguishable.
The Rise of the Manipulator
At top of the pantheon of the media manipulators, of course, sits the late Andrew Brietbart. “Feeding the media is like training a dog,” he once said, “You can’t throw an entire steak at a dog to train it to sit. You have to give it little bits of steak over and over again until it learns.” And learned it did: they followed his lead exactly in the Shirley Sherrod story, and continue to fall for the manipulations of his student, James O’Keefe, who has ravaged NPR, ACORN, and many other liberal organizations.
But in this rising class, I also place some unlikely figures. Michael Arrington, former editor and founder of the popular blog TechCrunch. Manipulator is the only word for Arrington, a man who once said “Getting it right is expensive, getting it first is cheap” and made $25 million from around that fact. Nick Denton and his cabal of Gawker writers—partially paid by how many visitors their posts get—use the same tricks to get your attention and sell it to advertisers. You can see it in how Brian Moylan, one of Denton’s minions, once explained the art of online headlines: “[the key is to] get the whole story into the headline but leave out just enough that people will want to click.”
And the old threat of government abuse of the media? We know that the Bush administration was a pro at it. Think of Dick Cheney leaking bogus information to Judith Miller at the New York Times as an anonymous source and then citing himself (without disclosing the conflict) to justify the build up to the war in Iraq. He planted the information which he then alluded to as support. That happened in 2002. Today, this loop is even easier, because as political strategists like Christian Grantham admit, “Campaigns understand that there are some stories that regular reporters won’t print. So they’ll give those stories to the blogs.”
So it goes: manipulators on both sides of the equation—the writers and the marketers and press agents—all influencing the news to their own benefit. I know because I used to be one of them. I plied the trade for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands. I can recognize manipulation when I see it…because I invented many of the plays myself.
Where It Comes From and What to Do About It
Media manipulation exploits the difference between perception and reality. The media was long a trusted source of information for the public. Today, all the barriers that made it reliable have broken down. Yet the old perceptions remain. If a random blog is half as reliable as a New York Times article that was fact checked, edited and reviewed by multiple editors, it is twice as easy to get coverage on. So manipulators (myself included) play the volume game. We know that if we can generate enough online buzz people will assume that where there is smoke there is fire…and the unreal becomes real.
This all happens because of the poor incentives. When readers don’t PAY for news, the creators of the news don’t have any loyalty to the readers either. Everything is read one off, passed around on Facebook and Twitter instead of by subscription. As a result, there is no consequence for burning anyone. Manipulators can deceive journalists because journalists are not held responsible for deceiving readers.
To combat these manipulations, we must change the incentives. If we want loyalty to the truth, we must be loyal to the people who provide us with it—whoever they are. This probably means paying for information in one form or another. It means we have to be more patient. Good information takes time to acquire after all. The idea that news can be given to us iteratively and reliably is preposterous. Screw Michael Arrington. I’d rather have my news right than first.
The Illusion of Net Neutrality: Political Alarmism, Regulatory Creep, and the Real End to Internet Freedom
In The Illusion of Net Neutrality, coauthors Bob Zelnick and his daughter, Eva Zelnick, sound the alarm on how the ever-increasing threat of regulations, rules, and powerful competing interests could strip the Internet of its unfettered, open nature—the very framework that has allowed it to become a life-altering invention. In just two short decades, this powerful global information and retail powerhouse has changed the way we communicate, how we stay informed on national and world events, how we manage our health and finances, and how we research virtually any subject—from genealogy to astrology.
In their riveting, cautionary treatise, the Zelnicks clearly and simply outline the technologies and factors that allowed the Internet to evolve and to become such a society-changing force in such a short period of time. They also carefully lay out the imminent threats that could rob the Internet of its full potential. They expose “network neutrality” for what is truly is, explain how FCC regulations would harm the Internet, and, in the end, make a strong, compelling case for an independent, unregulated Internet.
Bob Zelnick is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of national and international affairs at Boston University, and, as a former longtime ABC News correspondent, a frequent television analyst.
Eva Zelnick, who specializes in public policy and Internet-related issues, is a cum laude graduate of the University of Virginia and Boston University’s School of Law.