The Media and Honest Mistakes

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Lately, the refrain I’ve seen from several people involved in the national news media — mostly CNN staff, but also a few from the New York Times — has been, “well, we just made an honest mistake. Aw shucks. Can’t we just make a mistake?”

Yes. Yes, you can make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. The problem with the “mistakes” made by certain people in the media are as follows:

“Honest Mistakes” only hurt the Right/Conservatives/Republicans/whoever is out of favor. Whether or not the media will admit this or not, far, far more often than not they come out swinging hard at Republicans — blaming Palin for the Giffords shooting before the bodies were cold — and it appears to rational, thinking people that maybe they have an agenda. When the media is attempting to build a narrative before the facts are in and that narrative is, “somehow this is the right’s fault” the right is going to stop taking them seriously.

The New York Times, this year, again trotted out the proven false narrative that Palin had something to do with the Giffords shooting. “An honest mistake!” The thing is, there are certain things you check before running wild with accusations and that’s one of them. Especially after the reaction to the claim the first time around became international news. I don’t expect Joe Random to know the truth about the Palin/Giffords thing but if you work and report in this world you ought to know certain facts, or at least check with someone who does, before you rush forward with the narrative you want to force.

“Honest Mistakes” are slow to be corrected… unless it’s a Democrat/liberal/etc. This happens all too often, and the NYT story is a great example of it. The media will immediately react to any false story from right-leaning media, even if only one part of the story is false (or not even false, but unproven), highlighting how wrong and awful they are for it, and questioning their motives. Any “wrong” story about the left is held up as proof that only the special snowflake media is correct, and the alternative media are a bunch of unedited glory hounds howling at the moon.

Likewise, until Trump and people supporting him started holding their feet to the fire, the mainstream media dragged their feet for as long as possible before correcting or admitting fault on false stories about the right. That loses them a lot of credibility when they claim, “honest mistake!” You’ve programmed people to feel they have to stick lit matches between your toes to get a correction so stop acting surprised when you lie and we reach for the matchbox.

“Honest Mistakes” aren’t allowed on the right.

Look at any accusation of wrong-doing for a person on the right. It is immediately turned into, “This person is a [X]ist or [Y]phobe!” It can never be a misunderstanding — it’s indicative of something wrong deep in their evil soul. In addition, it is used to smear everyone in the world who is connected to that person. A case in point: Trump was endorsed by David Duke. He disavowed that support; yet people acted as though, “huh, maybe this means Trump is racist!” Then, on CNN, Trump misunderstood a question or misheard something (totally believable given their inability to keep a connection to anyone criticizing Democrats during live broadcasts), and didn’t disavow Duke again… fast enough.

Basically, the media wants the right to constantly repudiate every lunatic who claims to be on the right, and then blame us for any misstep along the way. That’s how you get people like the trolls of the Alt-Right who blatantly say offensive things just to see the look on your face. Because they’ve been called names every day, every hour, and treated like sub-humans by the media — over unrelated political disagreements.

Sorry, you lost your “honest” mistake card. About twenty years ago, but people finally stopped being polite about it a few years ago.

Gamergate is another example. There were a lot of assholes on both sides of that story but nearly all of the mainstream reporting was about the assholes on the gamergate side. They specifically focused on racist, sexist, and homophobic people in their reporting — and kept alive the worst part of the movement for as long as possible. They did not address the thing most of us felt was the true issue: the relationship between games media and games companies is absolutely incestuous and despicable.

For years before this, gamers were calling out the games media for scores that didn’t make sense, or were modified to fit the sponsors of the sites, and so on and so forth. It has nothing to do with social justice except for the social justice wankers who attached to it — a lot of us have been here long enough to have seen the sausage getting made by the gaming media. I don’t expect them to be enemies, but the way the relationship existed was… it’s corrupt. Imagine the outrage if Fox News ran stories that depended wholly on who sponsored them, or if CNN did it, or if the NYT did it. Wait, maybe they do. Maybe that’s why they didn’t want to cover the less sensational parts of gamergate.

Actually, the way gamergate was covered is an even better example than just the media angle. In almost every story the media immediately looks for something sensational or outlandish to focus on: after a storm or natural disaster they pick someone who is emotionally and physically a mess and put them on the spot. Whenever there is any sort of dispute, if internet trolls are involved, they focus on that to the detriment of the actual story. In a way, the media is responsible for the rise of hateful trolling because they give them a larger platform and legitimize them in an attempt to smear folks they don’t like.

Keep whining about wanting a fair shake, about how criticizing your lies is hurting Democracy, because not many people are buying what you’re selling. The “honest mistake, gee shucks golly” routine wore off.