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So What Else is the MSM Missing?

By far, the most interesting, but least explored angle to the Manti Te’o “girlfriend hoax” is how the story was broken by a “new media” outlet. The mainstream media completely missed the story.

The Guardian explains how the hoax has forced US journalists to “face uncomfortable self-reflection”:

The list of national media outlets that didn’t report, even in passing, that Teo’s girlfriend died of leukemia hours after the death of his grandmother, is much shorter than the list of those that did.

Since the sports website Deadspin revealed that Teo’s girlfriend never existed outside a fake online persona, news organizations have been scrambling to deal with the questions over their own reporting. The Boston Globe, Associated Press and the New York Times and CBS were among the many news outlets that recounted the tragedy-that-wasn’t. (emphasis mine)

breaking-news118Why does it take something like this for news organizations to examine their own reporting? Shouldn’t mainstream news outlets constantly be examining their own reporting??? Adding to the embarrassment is how little it took to actually get the truth.

A simple Nexis search is what broke the story.

Nevertheless, SB Nation lists 21 institutions who were initially duped by the story. They include such media stalwarts as:

And these are the people we trust to tell us the truth about our economy, global affairs, the 2nd Amendment, politicians, education, science, religion, and American culture?

If you’re having difficulty fathoming how something like this could happen, let me help you with this. The American media has been TMZ’d. We have become a nation that doesn’t care about facts as much as feelings. Facts bore us. Especially if they’re complicated (see: anything related to the economy, politics, or global affairs). Which is why the MSM has a soft spot for anything sappy, emotional, gut-wrenching, or tear-jerking. Who cares about accurate reportage if you can get someone to cry, get goosebumps, or feel super inspired?

All the bluster about the story now is simply a way for MSM journalists to cover their sorry asses.

Reflecting on “fake girlfriends and confirmation bias,” mollie at Get Religion concludes:

Reporters on all beats have preferences that blind them. We certainly see much harder-hitting exposes of some individuals than others. You may have noticed the media treats even presidents differently.

The best cure for this is to exercise your skeptical muscles. I hope that doesn’t make me sound too cynical, but it’s a reporter’s job to check out all claims, whether made my presidents, linebackers, mothers or others.

Then again, mollie is not part of the MSM. However, I will heed the advice and exercise my “skeptical muscles” with this summation:

The real question in the Manti Te’o hoax isn’t how the media got this wrong. It’s how much ELSE they are getting wrong.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Bobby B January 18, 2013, 7:24 AM

    Exposing a chink in the (as you call it, as simple a term as any) MSM is never a bad thing. I was disgusted by the adoring, fawning treatment they gave Obama (and still do, perhaps to a lesser extent) versus everyone from Hilary Clinton to Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin.

    Your point about the preference for emotionalism vs truth has probably always been true, but now it’s magnified by the internet. Going back to the great quote in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” People will always love a good story.

    As the cable news networks know, ratings are everything, and very few people tune in for a fair, balanced news story.

  • Steve Rzasa January 18, 2013, 8:26 AM

    This whole thing about the “Mainstream Media” being corrupt and/or inept is amusing to me because, well, it’s not as if it’s new. Anybody heard of yellow journalism? 1898? Spanish-American War? No takers? And perhaps few people know this, but up until the 1970s, when you read a newspaper odds are the only name you ever saw was the editor’s, especially in a small-town newspaper. There were no bylines on the articles. So while reporters not checking facts is deplorable, it’s hardly A.) a conspiracy or B.) news. It’s old school.

    I also see this story as a poor example of the disintegration of “Mainstream Media.” Odds are, the reporters involved either didn’t care about the story enough to investigate further or were told by the editors, “Yeah, that’s good enough, move on to the next story.” When there’s fewer staff to report on the same news or more news than was reported before, mistakes and intentional slacking off happens.

    Add to that the fact that reporters are human beings. They get tired, overworked, cynical, depressed, etc. So they’re gonna screw up.

  • Elizabeth Seckman January 18, 2013, 10:01 AM

    I’m taking a news hiatus. Being ignorant is more relaxing than arguing “facts” with people who get their hard news from John Stewart.

  • Katherine Coble January 18, 2013, 11:55 AM

    I highly recommend disengaging from the Entertainment outlets that pass themselves off as news providers.

    The errors on Day 1 of the Sandy Hook massacre (linking to the wrong FB page, getting basic details about the killer wrong, etc.) drive home the point that they are less and less journalists and more gossips who use current events to entertain and titillate.

  • John Robinson January 18, 2013, 2:16 PM

    I think the Eagles’ “Dirty Laundry” also summed this up pretty well. Google the lyrics and see.

  • Nicole January 20, 2013, 8:06 AM

    Steve, most of what you say is true. However, these current reporters, for the most part, are driven by their own agendas, sorry examples of journalists, could easily be classified as tabloid artists, and nearly all of them repeat the same mantras in newspapers, TV, and internet “news” reporting. Very few examples exist today of anything but prejudicial, yellow journalism, and when that is exposed by someone or a very few who actually do their homework and fact check, they either don’t expose it or manipulate it to cast doubt upon the facts. The sad and sorry part of this is that even fewer readers/observers do the work of fact checking and assume these lackeys are telling the truth. Propagandists rule most of the media with a few smart and trustworthy exceptions.

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