Veteran’s microphone cut off when he discusses Black people’s role in establishing Memorial Day

Who is this nobody Memorial Day keynote speaker who dared to make white patriots feel discomfort by bringing up facts that trigger their racism?  It’s not history unless it affirms my world view, right? Where does the lying America-hating fake news media come up with these stories? There so bias!! A ceremony organizer turned off a microphone when a retired Army lieutenant colonel began sharing a story about freed Black slaves honoring deceased soldiers shortly after the end of the Civil War. —Stars and Stripes

‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation

As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup. […] Framing everything as a grand conflict against scheming enemies can feel enormously reassuring. And that’s why perhaps the greatest culprit of our era of misinformation may be, more than any one particular misinformer,…

How Fake News Happens: It’s simple! A governor tweets a Fox News graphic from a story that cites a British tabloid’s misinterpretation of a scholarly study, and a false narrative about Biden banning beef stokes political rage

How dare President Biden be invoked by a British tabloid that rather creatively linked a scholarly study to a plan Biden floated during the Democratic primary. How dare Biden be implicated in a Fox News graphic that falsely lists cutting beef sales by 90% as a requirement of Biden’s “climate requirements.” How dare Biden be targeted by the Texas governor who retweeted the misleading Fox News graphic that amplified the spin that the British tabloid put on a scholarly study. Biden is such a national embarrassment! Why doesn’t he just spend his time rage-tweeting from golf courses, like presidents are…

All those fights over late-ar­riv­ing mail bal­lots were much ado about very lit­tle

Just in case you haven’t been thinking lately about the passionate accusations of massive voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election (which led led to the Jan 6 storming of the Capitol  Building), here’s an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Note that the Post-Gazette editorial page endorsed Trump in 2020. Massive voter fraud? This author, an NYU professor of constitutional law, checks the numbers and begs to differ. Perhaps surprisingly, the number of ballots that came in too late to be valid was extremely small — regardless of what deadline states used, or how much that deadline shifted. The numbers…

Partisan Pa. websites masquerading as local news threaten trust in journalism, new report finds

People with financial interests to protect and political axes to grind are funding websites that resemble local news outlets, with the express purpose of manipulating the attitudes of the general public. Journalists are far from perfect, and no human being is truly unbiased; however, there’s a big difference between responsible journalism that leans left or right, and partisan propaganda that’s camouflaged to resemble a neutral account of the facts. It’s an uphill battle teaching my students how to determine whether a source is trustworthy. Credibility is determined by examining nine apolitical factors, including not repeatedly publishing false content, regularly correcting…

Royalty: For the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

When I lived in Canada, I had friends who were Monarchists, but I could never tell whether they were really serious about it. I am not at all into royal-watching, but I am definitely into this Irish Times story about the royal family. Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns…

The Backstory: A reporter arrested while covering a protest faces trial Monday. Here’s why you should care.

Journalists are human, humans make mistakes, and no human journalist should be above criticism. In fact, cub reporters benefit greatly from making mistakes — it’s important for them to learn the consequences of spelling a name wrong or repeating a claim without checking it. However, general, unfocused contempt for “the media” is dangerous to a healthy democracy. Journalists arrested at last summer’s racial justice protests are still facing charges, jail time, for doing their job. They were reporting for you. […] Our reporters know to follow direction from police. They have to obey the same laws and orders as the general…

The Value of Truth: We are living through an epistemological crisis.

In the jargon of academia, the study of what we can know, and how we can know it, is called “epistemology.” During the 1980s, philosopher Richard Rorty declared it dead and bid it good riddance. To Rorty and many other thinkers of that era, the idea that we even needed a theory of knowledge at all rested on outmoded, Cartesian assumptions that the mind was an innocent mirror of nature; he urged that we throw out the baby—“truth”—with the bathwater of seventeenth-century rationalism. What’s the Use of Truth?, he asked in the provocative title of his final book (published in 2007).…

The Terrible Things I Have Said and Done My Entire Life, and Right Up Until a Few Days Ago, Do Not Represent Me As a Person

The media constantly takes things I say and then repeats them on their news shows and in their magazines, and they always leave something out, like the thing I haven’t even said yet that lets you know I don’t believe the thing I already said. If the media wants to be completely accurate, they should write down every word I’ve ever said in my entire life, then wait for me to finish saying everything I’ll ever say, and then publish only the good things that everyone will like. Only then would they be totally unbiased. Until then, they’re just cherry-picking.…

Media Bias Chart 7.0 (Left vs Right Bias; High vs Low Value and Reliability; Ad Fontes Media)

Don’t reject a news source just because it slants against your own slant, and don’t accept a news source just because it slants the same way you do. Update: Media Bias Chart 8.0 If you find a news source where you agree with all the content all the time, that doesn’t mean the source is 100% reliable. It just 100% shares your bias.

A practical application of close reading skills: Nazi-spotting

Whenever I teach a literature class, I put a lot of energy into helping students understand the difference between the plot summary and personal engagement (“The character I could most relate to in this story was…”) they got praised for doing in high school, and the more advanced literary close reading skills I ask them to do in my literature class. I’ve had some success drawing on the pre-existing skills of art students who are used to analyzing paintings, theatre students who can analyze a monologue, and even science majors who understand the difference between dissecting a frog (to sketch…

Should you trust media bias charts? – Poynter

Traditional journalism values a focus on news reporting that is fair and impartial, guided by principles like truth, verification and accuracy. But those standards are not observed across the board in the “news” content that people consume. Tim Groeling, a communications professor at the University of California Los Angeles, said some consumers take too much of the “news” they encounter as impartial. When people are influenced by undisclosed political bias in the news they consume, “that’s pretty bad for democratic politics, pretty bad for our country to have people be consistently misinformed and think they’re informed,” Groeling said. If undisclosed…

MAGA World Is Splintering: Following the riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters are having an existential crisis on Twitter.

Bryson Gray, a 29-year-old rapper and Donald Trump superfan from North Carolina, wants to make one thing clear: It was a group of the president’s most loyal supporters that rioted in the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, and nobody else. When I spoke with Gray yesterday, he said he had been “too late” to get inside the Capitol itself with the rest of the mob, which broke windows and chanted through the halls of Congress in an ultimately futile attempt to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden as president. So he stood outside the building with a crowd and sang…

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Fact Check: No, an NPR story on the Trump supporters’ attempted coup dated January 6, 2021 9:33 AM ET is not a sign of a conspiracy theory

According to the Internet Archive, this is a story NPR posted at 9:33 this morning. As events developed, and the story changed, NPR updated this page — drastically. As you can see, the headline and the picture are different; though the date the page was first created is still there, the page now also includes an “Updated at 3.08pm ET” time stamp. (The blue highlighting is mine.) Conspiracy theorists are cropping out the “Updated” annotation and sharing this image in an attempt to… uh… I’m really not sure what they think they are gaining. Demonstrating how uncritically and eagerly they…

The Unbearable Weakness of Trump’s Minions

Note that the URL of this story indicates it was initially published under the title “Cowards Are Destroying the GOP.”  Opinion stories that take a clear stand are a valuable part of legitimate news coverage, though of course they need to be well sourced, and a good editor will seek a balance that reflects a range of legitimate views. (So, no racism, no hate, no misinformation that could damage public health or the integrity of our democratic government, and no lies.) I grew up reading my father’s subscription to the Washington Post, which had a completely separate “Opinions” section, where…

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First Contact (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 15)

Rewatching ST:TNG This flipside episode, told entirely from the viewpoint of a civilization on the verge of discovering warp drive technology, documents a visit from members of a federation of space-faring aliens who wear brightly colored pajamas. An ER team with serious forehead bumps admits a patient with serious head injuries. They are first confused, then shocked at how different he is from them. (It is a bumpy-headed Riker, in disguise.) Yes, the writers took a risk; but because these aliens are so very much like us, this story ends up preachy and predictable. We are not the Malkorans, so…

Oh, No. YouTube is Deleting Videos.

Oh no.  First YouTube institutes a “COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy” and starts deleting videos that tout fake cures or discourage people from following the medical advice of the WHO; then, YouTube takes a stand against any video that “misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.” What’s next? Will they go after videos that include the phrase  “Merry Christmas?” Or will they instead go after videos that falsely allege Christians are systematically persecuted for using the phrase “Merry Christmas?” In all seriousness, Americans are still free to believe whatever they…

Stunning writing in this WaPost reflection on the Trump campaign’s journey from a gold escalator to a landscaping parking lot

I’m stunned by the writing. Here’s just a sample: Outside the Clark County Election Center in Las Vegas, a news conference was interrupted by a hysterical man in a sleeveless tank that read “BEER BBQ FREEDOM.” “The Biden crime family is stealing this election!” he screamed over and over again, as if repetition would make it true. In Philadelphia, a demilitarized zone formed early Friday afternoon at Arch and 12th streets near the convention center, where ballot counting continued. To the south was a large, jubilant street party, in front of historic Reading Terminal Market. To the north were agitated…