Snopes rips the media for fake news stories

An in-depth analysis of the false allegations and misleading claims made against the 45th President since his inauguration.

Source: The Lies of Donald Trump’s Critics, and How They Shape His Many Personas

Read it, please.

I am not a fan of President Trump, did not support him and I am not involved with either the Democrat or Republican parties. I have watched with disbelief, however, as the full power of propaganda messaging has been brought to play by “professional journalists”. There are many, many, many negative things that can be reported accurately and get the point across – but as Snopes documents, reporters have crossed a line into fantasy writing, as if it is their intent to interfere with democracy itself. I have not previously written about this specific topic – propaganda versus Trump – because the topic is overwhelming in scope.

Thankfully, Snopes does an excellent job addressing the absurd levels to which propaganda messaging has become the default position and concludes:

It has to be acknowledged that since January, many of Trump’s opponents, and even lukewarm supporters, have found considerable fault with his policies and behavior, based on accurate facts. There have been many occasions when Trump himself, undistorted and unfiltered, contributed mightily to the four personas we have outlined.

….

[but regarding poorly produced news stories] these sorts of massive exaggerations and gross distortions are even more corrosive and destructive than fake news about diarrhea on the golf course, because they bear some distant relationship with the truth.

Which is precisely how the best propaganda operates – it has at least some link to truth, but bends and distorts that truth to motivate the target to adopt and agenda or take action.

Years ago, I observed the use and power of propaganda to persuade others to adopt someone’s agenda. That led to much study on the subject and to the creation of this blog and Facebook page.

Politics is a minefield of propaganda messaging not only from politicians but also from their fanatical devotees on social media plus their friends in the mainstream media whose bad reporting is shared on social media as confirmation of allegations.

In the linked post, Snopes eviscerates the credibility of professional media (and some of the professional fake news web sites, especially those on social media) due to the media’s having morphed into a full time propaganda operation. In the future (which could be next week), when the Media screams “Wolf!”, few people will believe them anymore.

Remember, there are many, many issues regarding Trump that can be reported accurately and are quite negative for Trump or his policies. There is plenty to bash by just sticking to facts and policies. But the media, as Snopes documents, has become a giant propaganda messaging operation. Discerning truth from such overwhelming propaganda firepower is difficult.

We worry about allegations of foreign nations interfering in our elections but ignore media actually doing so through lies, distortions and inaccurate reporting.

Recent positive national news stories about Reno, Nevada were planted by a PR agency

I’d read several of the recent national press stories about Reno, Nevada, all of which acted as cheerleaders for the area. Turns out, and not surprisingly, these stories were planted by a public relations agency:

The national news stories began popping up about two years ago, celebrating Reno’s economic revival, touting the city as “actually pretty cool” and ruminating on the region’s Silicon Valley-esque potential.

Just two weeks ago, a Bloomberg story titled “Reno Is Starting to Look More Like Silicon Valley” hit social media with great fanfare, continuing the trend of celebratory Reno articles appearing nationally about twice a quarter since 2015.

But the positive press isn’t a coincidental timing of national publications suddenly realizing Reno is shedding its image as a tired casino town.

In fact, the coverage has been carefully orchestrated at local taxpayers’ expense to help rebrand the region in an effort to boost economic development — a cost to date of $110,000.

Source: Reno’s looking like Silicon Valley? You helped pay for that headline

Glad to see Reno’s local paper doing real journalism and exposing the charade. “Public Relations” is the term Edward Bernays invented to be used in place of “propaganda”. War time propaganda efforts, especially by Goebbels in World War II, gave the original term “propaganda” a bad taste.

Your social media posts must be curated

Source: Your social media activity could help, or harm you

If you do not have a social media presence, employers say they are concerned there is something odd – or perhaps you are disconnected from modern technology.

If you have a social media presence, then they check for your views and say they are concerned about “extreme views”, which is not well defined.

Probably best to just post cat photos and videos!

Weaponizing Twitter and other social media for political propaganda

A GOP donor who once had ties to IBM is the man behind the millions of Twitter bots President Trump counts on as followers who could be employed to target voters with misleading or fake news on social media.

Using “bots” to target social media users with propaganda is presented in the story as a possibility. But its already a reality.

“You have arbitrary and ridiculous information spread very quickly, and now to targeted user more susceptible to believing it and spreading it, and we now know that it influences people. We saw it in the election, with Brexit,” he said.

and gosh, sounds like propaganda:

“uses secret psychological methods to pinpoint which messages are the most persuasive to individual online viewers”

The remarkable power of propaganda

I just scanned Twitter for items about the Affordable Care Act.

I estimate 99% of the Tweets were lies, contained significant errors, left out key information, or significantly exaggerated points. This included linked news stories at main stream news services such as the Los Angeles Times and NPR and others, which contained significant inaccuracies or left out crucial information and data that refuted the thrust of the article.

How many read the ACA? Probably a number approaching zero.

How many researched any of the topics at all? Probably a very small number.

So why are these people posting so much nonsense on Twitter?

Because of the effectiveness of propaganda that has delivered messages to them, which they in turn, regurgitate online, further spreading the propaganda message.

I covered this previously in National public opinion surveys are propaganda messaging in disguise.

Unfortunately, most national surveys of “American’s opinions” are surveys of propaganda effectiveness. The survey itself then adds to the growing body of propaganda messaging on a subject and becomes, itself, a form of propaganda.

You can go to news.google.com and find similar surveys.

  • 9% of American’s Feel Shingles Vaccination is a Priority
  • Many believe race relations will worsen under Trump
  • 68% of Americans believe humans are causing warming
  • 71% of Americans consider granola bars to be healthy

Surveys often follow a period of concerted propaganda messaging in the media.

In these and other cases, the survey is primarily measuring the effectiveness of the propaganda messaging around a subject. Most American’s understand little of the facts or logic for any of these items (and many more). Survey respondents are regurgitating the view given to them by propaganda messaging and the methods used to persuade masses of people.

 

Visa applicants to US must turn over all social media account IDs for past 5 years

The US government announced today that applicants requiring a visa to enter the U.S. must turn over

  • All social media account IDs used during the past 5 years, even if since deleted.
  • All names, phone numbers and email address of yourself, your siblings (including adult siblings!) and children used during the past 5 years.
  • Detailed 15 year biography, including identifying each country you may have visited, when you visited, and how your trip was funded.
  • Failure to provide accurate information is grounds for visa denial.

Most people can’t remember the information that is being requested. Further, that the U.S. is requesting account data going back 5 years, even for deleted accounts, means that the U.S. government admits it has used surveillance to log all phone calls, emails and social media posts of everyone, world wide, for the past 5 years.

A likely consequence of this is that other countries will now require that U.S. citizens provide similar information when applying for a visa to visit those countries.

What does this mean for social media?

A great many people, particularly young people, may have no idea what they posted – or more importantly – who they have friended on social media over the years.

For example, because of my personal interest in 3D photography, I have social media friends in Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and many countries who share an enthusiasm for 3D photography. Because some of the countries are considered “evil” by the U.S. government, do I need to prune my friend list?

Over the past few months, I deleted all of my Tweets going back years so that I only now publicly display the last 90 days of tweets – anything older is auto-deleted. I deleted my Instagram and SnapChat accounts. I went through all of my Facebook posts and deleted nearly all posts, likes and shares, more than a few months old.

I am not trying to hide anything. The problem is that people with wild imaginations can conjure up conspiracy theories based on one’s friends, the topics that interest us online and more.

What impact will these government measures have on social media? I would predict that there will gradually be fewer posts, better use of “privacy” settings, and pruning of friend lists. In effect, a lot of people will start engaging in self censorship, including U.S. citizens – because we have no idea what the rules are for evaluating our friend lists or how our posts will be interpreted and evaluated.

The 1st, 4th and 5th amendments to the U.S. Constitution have largely been suspended.

Social media and the Paris Climate Agreement

In the past couple of hours, my social media feeds have *exploded* with loudly expressed perspectives on the Paris Climate Agreement.

How many of those expressing a perspective have read the Agreement?

I am guessing that is a number approaching zero.

The agreement is short, as far as government documents go, and you can read it for yourself here.

What does the Paris Climate Agreement actually do?

Read the text for yourself. It is a voluntary set of guidelines, with no enforcement provisions, for self reporting the steps each country will take and what they think they will accomplish. Out of 196 countries, none would ever cheat or bias the information they provide, of course.

If all of the voluntary measures were undertaken, various modeling groups estimate it may reduce global average temperature by between 0 and 0.36 deg C by 2100, if the climate change hypothesis is correct and all other factors remain the same. The Agreement says the goal is to limit temperature rise to 2 deg C over what it was about 150 years ago (or perhaps 1.5 deg C) at a cost of about $10 Trillion in present value terms just for the financial transfer from developed nations to developing nations and not including costs of developing alternatives for developed nations.

Countries choose their own “baseline” for emissions (China chose its model projected emissions in 2030 as its baseline whereas the U.S. chose 2005) and then voluntary measure their progress towards their self selected targets.

Dr. James Hansen, “father of climate change” said

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises.

Update: From the science journal Nature (May 22, 2017):

Better out than in

 

Continued US membership in the Paris Agreement on climate would be symbolic and have no effect on US emissions. Instead, it would reveal the weaknesses of the agreement, prevent new opportunities from emerging, and gift greater leverage to a recalcitrant administration.

A lot of emotion will be vented on social media over an agreement that most have not read, do not understand, and which the “father of climate change” says is a worthless agreement and the science journal Nature says is “symbolic and have no effect on US emissions”.

From the above short summary we can see that there are both pros and cons of the Agreement.

Why such a strong emotional response on social media?

The answer is propaganda. Rather than examining the underlying documents, almost everyone is responding in terms of what they think they know, which they learned from propaganda messaging. Remember, propaganda is messaging targeted at a group for the purpose of getting others to adopt someone’s agenda. A wide variety of methods are used to persuade a group to adopt someone’s agenda (appeal to authority, get on the bandwagon, name calling, are a small sampling of the methods used here).

Many people have been “trained” to what they should “believe” or accept as truth. They now feel it is their responsibility to evangelize their “beliefs” to others, via social media.

But most are virtue signalling that they are “on the bandwagon” and do not realize the Paris Agreement appears to accomplish little positive. The point of the Agreement seems to be to enable a group to say we agree but to not actually agree to anything.

Local TV news makes extensive use of PR fake news videos

Local TV stations make extensive use of “video news releases” which are pre-packaged public relations (PR) created fake news stories.

All of the sampled TV stations “actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients’ messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged V”NR in its entirety”.

Source: Microsoft Word – Fake TV News — Widespread and Undisclosed.doc – fake_tv_news_–__widespread_and_undisclosed.pdf

Public Relations Failure: British Airways and the silly high visibility vest

The CEO of British Airways, standing in their operations center, apologizes for their terrible service and lack of contingency/disaster planning:

As you may know, it is essential that one wears a high visibility safety vest when standing in a computer operations center! Or maybe not.

Seriously, the reason for this odd clothing choice is that his public relations staff said it would help him look like he was “hands on” in the midst of the crisis.

You might remember when President Bush showed up after Hurricane Katrina wearing a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up – because staff thought having rolled up sleeves made it look like he was there and working on the problem.

Everything around us is stage managed fakery designed to influence our thinking process. At least a few people on social media noticed the absurdity of a high visibility vest in a computer operations center. His second video ditched the vest.

When PR staff think this nonsense is a priority in the midst of a systemic collapse of the company’s systems – you’ve gotta wonder about the clueless people working in PR.

 

 

Montana is a Democratic Party state, not Republican, contrary to news reporting

(Note – this post is about the media – not about the candidates or the political parties).

Actual headlines:

  • In blood red Montana, ObamaCare repeal to blame for close race”
  • “Montana house race is a gauge on Trump, test for Democrats”
  • “House elections to test whether Trump is hurting Republicans”
  • A populist test in Trump country
  • NY Times: “The Montana contest was the second special House election this year in a conservative district…” and further spins, near the end of the article, about Montana being hostile terrain for Democrats.

And so on. There are more headlines implying Montana is a Republican state. Except Montana has a long history of electing Democrats 3 to 1 over Republicans for Federal office:

The assertions made by the media are false.

The media has invented a fictional meme either to create controversy or heightened emotions or is trying to offer a crude explanation as to how a Republican could have won this race. This bad reporting looks like propaganda messaging.

The loser of this election was the media, for telling what is basically a lie. Except for NPR, whose reporting appears accurate and US News, which seems to have the issues sorted out. (FYI, I was in Bozeman days before this election.)

Not surprisingly, 2/3ds of Americans say they think the media publishes fake news. The first headline “In blood red Montana…” is a story written by a professor of political science, no less, which damages the reputation of academics as well. One would think there would be the slightest fact checking on such claims but the media leaves that up to bloggers.