Before “Fake News,” America Invented “Pseudo Events”, by Ryan McMaken

Media manipulation by politicians and other interested parties has been going on a long time. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

In the wake of the Chalottesville riot, it’s been interesting how quickly the focus has shifted away from the actual events in Charlottesville and toward the public pundits and intellectuals are expressing opinions about the events. 

Already, the media has lost interest in analyzing the details of the event itself, and are instead primarily reporting on what Donald Trump, his allies, and his enemies have to say about it. 

This is an important distinction in coverage. Rather than attempt to supply a detailed look at who was at the event, what was done, and what the participants — from both sides — have to say about it, we are instead exposed primarily to what people in Washington, DC, and the political class in general, think about the events in which they were not directly involved.

This focus illustrates what has long been a bias among the reporters and pundits in the national media: a bias toward focus on the national intellectual class rather than on events that take place outside the halls of official power. 

Note, however, that those quoted rarely have any special knowledge about the events themselves. Their opinions are covered not because they are knowledgeable, but because their quotations fit easily into a narrative that the media wishes to perpetuate.

In a March 2017 column, Peter Klein noted this bias and what economist F.A. Hayek had to say about it:

The intellectual, according to Hayek, is not an expert or deep thinker; “he need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas. What qualifies him for his job is the wide range of subjects on which he can readily talk and write … Such people wield enormous influence because most us learn about world events and ideas through them. “It is the intellectuals in this sense who decide what views and opinions are to reach us, which facts are important enough to be told to us, and in what form and from what angle they are to be presented” (pp. 372–73).

 

To continue reading: Before “Fake News,” America Invented “Pseudo Events”

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