As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.
“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”
– From “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll
To summarize, just because one says something repeatedly, does not make it so. Anyone that has been caught in a lie has undoubtedly been hit with a similar statement. And that is what is going on now far too often among conservatives. To keep up with the times, these are often called memes – little tidbits of information, or stories that continually surface on a fairly regular basis, that are either wishful thinking on the part of the authors, or bald-faced lies. Sure, it might make us feel better to say them, and spread them around, but they are a true disservice to our cause.
When I used to have vocal liberals among my Facebook friends, I would get called on “less than accurate” polling information or statistics. Usually it would be a matter of dated material that had changed slightly since a particular story or graphic meme had been made. This happens, because the shelf life on statistics is often far shorter than the life of a meme. They go around and around, theoretically bouncing around the interwebs perpetually. I was once somewhat polite about this, and point out that while specific numbers might have changed slightly over time, the general meaning of what they were saying didn’t. The fact that we are overspending doesn’t change, simply because we’re adding more zeroes to the figures all the time, and workplace participation numbers are still dismal, no matter how many groups of people the administration removes from the calculations to make it seem better.
Those are the relatively innocent examples of misinformation being passed around on a daily basis. The troublesome stories are the ones that regularly get repeated by piles of conservative bloggers, without a shred of evidence to prove them. One of these is the rumor about CNN being paid off to not run stories. These bribes supposedly have come from the Obama Administration, the UN, other foreign powers, and any number of various Democrat backed SuperPACs or multi-million dollar corporations owned by liberals – yes, that is a nod to George Soros. I’m not offering links to these stories, because that would absolutely defeat my purpose here, which is to warn against the proliferation of these links around the web. Normally, I ignore them myself. I have a list of sites that I typically ignore, because the vast majority of their content is questionable. That list won’t appear here either, but I will offer advice on how to create your own later.
For now, I will focus on a story that caught my attention, because it implied that a reporter from CNN actually came out and said that her employer was bribed to kill stories. I searched, and couldn’t find anything that backed up that contention, other than additional conservative blogs making the same assertion – but not one of them offered links to outside source material. However, I did find out that the reporter in question did speak out against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
A portion of a speech that Amber Lyon gave at Harvard Law School on February 27, 2013 is readily available on her own YouTube page. In it she details how investigative reporters do business when it comes to covering news on terrorism. Instead of just taking what is spoon-fed to them by governments in general, they get out there and actually interview terrorists when they can. It’s a dangerous business, without taking potential legal consequences in the U.S. into consideration, and there is a list of dead journalists out there that proves it. Gallows humor for them includes reminding each other “don’t say that, you might get NDAA’ed for it.” What does that mean?
The fact is that while journalists theoretically are protected by the journalists’ shield law when it comes to protecting their sources, those rules go out the window when dealing with terrorists. Under NDAA, the U.S. government can press charges against journalists that refuse to answer questions about terrorists they have interacted with in the field. The knee-jerk response might be to say that is just fine, because it is a matter of national security. However, given the circumstances, that places journalists between a rock and a hard place. If they are silent, they can go to prison – they get to live, but behind bars. If they talk, they are endangering their own lives – they probably will end up dead, because while the government is happy to force them to talk, it’s not likely that it will offer them any protection from terrorists that will want them dead.
So, the rumor is that a news agency is being bribed to not cover stories, and the provable truth is that the government has been placing investigative reporters in a no-win situation for years. One story probably seems sexier from the start – bribery always makes a great headline. However, given the intelligence issues we’ve been having (Edward Snowden, etc.), wouldn’t it be a better idea to start asking real questions of the government about why it isn’t attempting to use journalists in a more fair-handed manner? These people are getting face time with terrorists – something that our intelligence agencies theoretically should be looking at as a real asset. Instead of building a real – secret – relationship with these people, they are threatening them with imprisonment if they don’t talk. It’s not like that sort of thing would make headlines. Those stories would only come out years from now, in the tell-all memoirs of those journalists, once they retire. But, why are there legitimate stories about journalists being bullied by the government out there in the first place? Theoretically, we have a free press, and freedom of speech.
The story that bears repeating is the same one we’ve been saying about conservatives being marginalized in the media, and silenced on social media. The government is doing it to reporters that are working for the mainstream media. Instead of saying something that can’t be proven – the wishful thinking story about bribery – we should be pointing out that the mainstream media is being used by the government without the benefit of any cash. The government is seeking to silence reporters, and using national security as a cover to do it. Add in the incestuous nature of the media and this administration, and it’s not difficult to sell the idea that the mainstream media is merely a puppet of the government. Yes, we’ve been saying that all along, but this isn’t a rumor. This isn’t wishful thinking. This is a story that is coming from the lips of a reporter, pointing out that the government is an enemy of journalists in the field. Now that we’ve gotten here, the next step is to find people from behind the scenes in the mainstream media that are willing to admit what we’ve been suspecting all along – someone that will admit that editorial decisions are at least occasionally influenced by the government itself. Now, we can only call that a rumor, and attribute the bias to the political beliefs of the editors, producers, and all the other decision makers behind the scenes.
We’re hurting ourselves daily by promoting information that is simply wishful thinking. Think before you share. If what you’re reading doesn’t have links to outside sources, be suspicious. Search to find reputable sites that offer information about what you’re reading. Journalists should have at least two independent sources for material they write about, so if there isn’t anything other than the post you’re reading (and other posts like it), then it may not be true. If there isn’t a single mention of someone being asked about what is written, and making a comment, it may not be true. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it a fact. Do your homework! And once you notice that a site regularly posts items without evidence to prove what they are saying, stop paying attention to them. Make a blacklist with those site names, and keep it to yourself. I don’t share mine for a reason – I know some people still read some of those sites; maybe they have friends who write for the site. Or maybe my standards are higher than theirs. Blacklisting a site is a personal decision, but if we are to be taken seriously, it’s something we all have to do. The poem at the beginning is about searching for something that isn’t real. We need to stop hunting the Snark, and start hunting for the truth.