Media Literacy Quick Shot

There’s a lot of chatter over what is and isn’t “fake news.” I think people are missing the point when they start to pick and choose which publications they consider reliable though.

I guess it’s okay to say (for example) that the New York Times is usually pretty reliable because yadda yadda reasons. But that’s a) only a first approximation; and b) subject to the Judy Miller phenomenon, in which they trade on their credibility to feed you some kind of made-up bullshit.

A better idea than keeping a mental list of good and bad news operations is to LEARN HOW TO READ. How to distinguish fact from opinion from speculation. How to identify supporting facts. How to pick out innuendo and discard it. How to question the sources: “Who is this person? What do they claim to know? How do they claim to know it? What is their motivation for telling the truth? If they’re lying, how would we know? Who’s in a position to contradict them? Are they even telling us something they know about firsthand?”

Don’t tell me “This thing was on CNN so it must be right.” Tell me “There are two main facts here and the sources are named and they have reason to know what they’re talking about and they have no incentive to lie.”

End of today’s media lesson.

Tom Friedman has a new book.

Look, Thomas “Suck. On. This.” Friedman has a new book out! It’s called Thank You For Being Late and I’ll let you google it yourself.

Just to make one thing clear, okay? I’m not so much a fan of Friedman ever since he used his New York Times column to make the case for invading Iraq because it would make the United States look badass:

But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world.

Aside: That’s not one simple reason, that’s three. The first of the three stated reasons is simply evil. The second one is arguable at best, and the third one makes no damn sense at all. I mean by the standard of being “right in the heart of that world” we should be going after Israel too.

But this is how Friedman writes. I’m afraid it’s how he thinks. He can’t hold one coherent thought in his head long enough to make a short paragraph out of it without contradicting himself.

What’s worse is that somehow this guy has become influential in big media circles even though he often makes literally no sense.

My disgust is further enhanced by the honorary “doctor of humane letters” (!) granted to Friedman six years later by my alma mater. What the hell, Grinnell? (I tried to organize a protest at the time but couldn’t get anyone else to join in.)

Long story short: Friedman writes nonsense. He’s dangerously stupid. Too damn many people take his stupid thoughts seriously. And it’s embarrassing that Grinnell College thought it was a good idea to endorse and reward him for a career of spewing oversimplified nonsense that conveniently always supports everything that’s wrong with the status quo.