Katrina Trinko, Daily Signal, December 1, 2016
Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, there’s been an abundance of hand-wringing over the “fake news” that supposedly is rampant on social media.
Yet missing has been any kind of serious searching among the mainstream media about whether it could learn any lessons from this election–and whether reporters and editors are holding themselves accountable to their supposed values of objectivity and rigorous reporting.
And a new “study” presents Exhibit A as to why the mainstream media should reconsider its own practices.
The Southern Poverty Law Center–an organization that calls the Family Research Council an “extremist group” because of its socially conservative views on LGBT matters–reported Nov. 29 that “in the 10 days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation.”
“Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults,” the report continued, “making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”
There’s just one issue: The Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t confirm these “nearly 900” incidents actually happened.
“The 867 hate incidents described here come from two sources — submissions to the #ReportHate page on the SPLC website and media accounts,” the SPLC report states. “We have excluded incidents that authorities have determined to be hoaxes; however, it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.”
In other words, who has any idea if these incidents actually happened or not?
And let’s not pretend there’s no to very little chance that a Trump opponent would make up a hate crime story.
Just consider this reported hate incident in November: “The men used a racial slur, made a reference to lynching, and warned him this is Donald ‘Trump country now,’ according to the report he gave police,” reported the Boston Herald.
Yet the man wasn’t telling the truth. The Herald reported that Kevin Molis, police chief of Malden, Massachusetts, said “it has been determined that the story was completely fabricated.”
Ultimately, regardless of what the Southern Poverty Law Center does, the media shouldn’t be giving a platform to faux studies like this.
But maybe it’s not surprising, given attitudes like President Barack Obama’s. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine published Tuesday, the president griped about the reach of Fox News Channel–and then complimented Rolling Stone: “Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone.”
Yes, that Rolling Stone–the news outlet that published the completely discredited University of Virginia gang rape story.
It’s tough to hold the media accountable when even the president seems willing to brush aside true instances of fake news.