3 Ways the Media Reports BS as Fact

July 29th, 2010

I don’t watch the news much.  Why? Because most of it is crap.  Half the time they don’t know what they’re talking about.  And since news is more and more about market share, reporting has turned into info-tainment.  Hence, a guy like Glenn Beck can get higher ratings than news programs and people think Jon Stewart is a legitimate source for news.

But never fear, newswatchers.  Part of my career was spent dissecting news articles.  So, I know how to spot BS and now you can too.  Here are 3 ways to spot it:

Some people say….

Some people say?  Who are those people?  Basically this phrase means “I can’t prove jack but I’ve got an opinion and I’d like to say it without letting you know it’s just my opinion.”

Some people say you’re a Communist.

Who are those people?

I don’t know…some people…you know, they send e-mails and stuff.

Some people say your news program sucks.

To me, it’s the same BS that the BS gurus pull with the “secrets they don’t want you to know.  Who are they? We’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Here is a thing about Fox News using this BS tactic.  But don’t for one minute think this is a Fox thing.  They ALL do it.  I hear it ALL THE TIME.  So, listen for it next time.

Mistakes were made…(why so passive?)

A writer knows there are two voices—the active and the passive.  Look at these sentences:

Jill burned the cake.

The cake was burned (by Jill).

One of those sentences completely lets Jill off the hook, while the other blames her.  Wanna know where a news organization stands on an issue?  Look where they assign blame in heir headlines.  Need an awesome example of the passive being used to take the blame off the speaker?  Here is this gem by former President George W Bush:

Lack of Context

Recently lack of context in “reporting” has been brought to the forefront with the whole Shirley Sherrod incident involving that blogger that I keep getting mixed up with Justin Bieber.  But the truth is this crap happens all the time.  How many times does the media put out crap without bothering to explain its context?  How many sound bites do you hear without wondering what was said afterwards? Do you even care?

Go on over to Media Matters.  They show clips of people on the right.  The clips can be informative, but I usually have no idea of what the context was.  Thus, the right looks unreasonable (and downright crazy)  in pretty much all the clips.  But sometimes when you view the whole clip, it doesn’t look so crazy anymore.

You can always tell when you’re being bullshitted when context is not provided.  In fact, whenever someone in the media expresses outrage over something another person has said, it’s best to ignore them.  They won’t give you the context to understand why something was said.  They don’t care.  It typically ruins their whole hour of ranting.

On the flip side, taking things out of context can be so much FUN!

A shoutout to the guys at Cracked for this awesome article that I read while researching media BS.

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