Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Glenn Greenwald — WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

Is Washington Post editor Marty Baron using fake news as clickbait to generate revenue for Jeff Bezos and feather his own nest?
But while these debacles are embarrassing for the paper, they are also richly rewarding. That’s because journalists — including those at the Post — aggressively hype and promote the original, sensationalistic false stories, ensuring that they go viral, generating massive traffic for the Post (the paper’s executive editor, Marty Baron, recently boasted about how profitable the paper has become).
After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.
Baron himself, editorial leader of the Post, is a perfect case study in this irresponsible tactic. It was Baron who went to Twitter on the evening of November 24 to announce the Post’s exposé of the enormous reach of Russia’s fake news operation, based on what he heralded as the findings of “independent researchers.” Baron’s tweet went all over the place; to date, it has been re-tweeted more than 3,000 times, including by many journalists with their own large followings:
This is similar to the strategy of fake news sites that generate revenue from advertising, which is an intreating of the tabloid press, which was emulated successfully by Rupert Murdoch and has spread through the mainstream media as a revenue-generator.

Hey, what works. This is capitalism, after all. Advertisers want eyeballs and the public wants sensation. What's wrong with bringing them together?
But what was the Post’s motive in publishing two false stories about Russia that, very predictably, generated massive attention, traffic, and political impact? Was it ideological and political — namely, devotion to the D.C. agenda of elevating Russia into a grave threat to U.S. security? Was it to please its audience — knowing that its readers, in the wake of Trump’s victory, want to be fed stories about Russian treachery? Was it access and source servitude — proving it will serve as a loyal and uncritical repository for any propaganda intelligence officials want disseminated? Was it profit — to generate revenue through sensationalistic click-bait headlines with a reckless disregard to whether its stories are true? In an institution as large as the Post, with numerous reporters and editors participating in these stories, it’s impossible to identify any one motive as definitive.…
How about all the above. What's not to like about multiple motives?

Is Glenn Greenwald picking on the Washington Post and Marty Baron. No way. He is fair and balanced, also catching New York Times’s editorial writer Brent Staples and MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin up to the same hit and run tricks on social media as Marty Baron.

There's much more in the full post.

The Intercept
WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived
Glenn Greenwald

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