Here’s the Brian Stelter Twitter thread I refer to later:
I read a fascinating Twitter thread yesterday where Brian Stelter, a journalist and correspondent at CNN, complained about what he called “anti-journalistic sentiment”. He claimed that criticism towards journalism is good, as long as it’s constructive, but that most of the critiques being thrown at journalism lately have been destructive, especially towards the practice of journalism itself. The timing of his Tweets are due to a lot of public ire that CNN has drawn this past week with the release of hidden camera videos that expose figures in the company admitting that they’ve been pushing false stories and trying to slander the President since he took office. Many people have viewed these videos as undeniable proof that mainstream media is corrupt, pushes false narratives for profit, and doesn’t have the interest of the people at heart, all of which are fair reactions. Brian’s Twitter tirade drew a lot of attention from people within the political sphere, with predictable support coming from his fellow journalists, and even more predictable mocking coming from members of the alt-right. What surprised me about reading the buzz around this Tweetstorm was that I found myself not agreeing with either side particularly. Here’s why.
For the most part, I’ve been on conservative side of the argument when it’s come to the handling of mainstream media and fake news these past months. Phony story after phony story have understandably caused a lot of Americans to lose what little faith they had in the media establishment. While I don’t agree with Brian’s outrage at people for being anti-journalism, it mainly stems from my distaste at a CNN employee trying to save face, rather than at his sentiment. He actually brings up a fair point, there’s no need for us to all be anti journalism, just mainstream news. I’ve spent many a blog praising new media pioneers who have managed to take current affairs and bring it to everybody’s preferred viewing screens. I wouldn’t say that an online organization who reports and analyzes current events isn’t doing journalism, in fact I’d say the opposite. I understand that we conflate the notion of mainstream big media and the actual practice of journalism in this nation, but I think that we’re actually presented with an exciting opportunity. Due to the internet, social media, and incredibly powerful personal devices, anyone can become a journalist. With this power, we can finally separate the jaws of big business and corporate interest from the news we consume. We have the potential to liberate an entire generation and lift the wool from the collective eyes of society. With this potential then, it’s not really a question of if new media saves journalism, but when it will.
In this sense, I agree somewhat with Brian. I do think that the right is going a little far in its hate for journalism. Pundits are building up an unhealthy distrust for the entire practice, instead of just targeting groups who do it poorly. Buried beneath the thousands of worthless or harmful articles from organizations like HuffPo or Buzzfeed, there are plenty of journalists doing actual good work. I attempt to share this work at times, and encourage my friends and social network to do the same. Not only do we benefit by collectively sharing information and cool new thought, but we also promote journalists doing actual good work. The problem with the right’s current approach is that they want to slash and burn the entire practice, and if we did that we’d be losing out on such an important part of American culture. I implore any reading to support actual journalism, no matter the scale or platform. If you’re a fan of a travelling video journalist like Tim Pool, share him with your social network, and support his work. If you’re a fan of specific publication contributors to big outlets like NY Times, share their work so they’ll be allowed to contribute more. If you really enjoy online personalities like Dave Rubin or Steven Crowder, support their content so they can continue to exist. The point here is that we’re all responsible for the media we consume. The support alternative media has received these past years is already affecting mainstream news sites, this is why they’re lashing out so hard. It takes CNN resorting to the techniques of the National Enquirer, spreading hoaxes and rumors about the President and other politicians just to get ratings that are competitive with alternative media. It takes the Wall Street Journal slandering PewDiePie, incorrectly calling him an anti-Semite and bigot to try to draw views to their dying website. It takes the New York Times publishing so much fake news that they have to publically apologize for it, promising that they’ll improve their editorial standards (despite having less editors), treating us like we’re in an abusive relationship with the media. If you think of it we kind of are.
So what does all this mean? Should we be worried? Yes. Should we start leading Alex Jones inspired revolutions against our corporate overlords? Sort of. It might be utopian, but I genuinely have faith that we’re on a path towards positive change in this nation. Not the change that Obama promised, with forced social progress and economic collapse. Instead, I think we’re experiencing a very important cultural change that’s been a long time coming. People are getting sick of being sheep, and more and more people are waking up to how brainwashed they’ve been by the mainstream. It’s such a common occurrence to realize the media has been selling us fake news that there’s a whole term for it, “red-pilling”. What makes me happy about “red-pilling” or the act of waking up to the lies of mainstream media and the political left, isn’t that it’s responsible for America’s political right to keep winning elections. Red-pilling extends out way further than in a political sense. It’s a cultural awakening, and I’ve noticed that a lot of people who get red-pilled rest not on the political right, but instead in the more calm and rational center. The realm of thought in my generation has been poisoned by extremism, people are either communists, or fascists, and if you’re not on one of these extremes you’re a “normie” or an “enemy”. Its unhealthy, and people are getting sick of it. The way to cure this illness on the nation is with easy access to facts, honest information, and consistent and constant analysis. All of these will and have been provided by new media, and it will still be provided by new media as long as the government doesn’t interfere.
Journalism itself isn’t a force of evil, just like a gun or a car aren’t forces of evil. It’s merely the use of these tools by a force of evil that makes these items dangerous, which is an important lesson to remember when the powers that be try to limit citizen access to them. Don’t fall for the crocodile tears of mainstream media these upcoming months. They’re the luring rattle of a poisonous snake trying to feign innocence by playing on our sympathies. If you’re not careful, you might get bitten, and you will yourself become poisoned, possibly spreading the illness to others. Even more important is to not become a snake ourselves, poisoning others and taking the old snake’s place. As always, find the happy middle. Keep looking for honest and truthful information, it’s a valuable currency these days.