Friday, May 18, 2012

Bad Journalism

In the world of journalism, and even the world of "journalism", there are lows that are a sight to be seen.

The Andrew Breitbart site is a place to see such epic lows that, really, you should stretch a bit before trying to read. But they are a great example of how to do journalism poorly and pompously. Sure, Drudge Report is horribly wrong at a rate that it should surprise you that major media sources use it as a source, but is a pageant of bad.

Look at their excitement recently that they have PROOF that Obama is not an American. [Cue dramatic sting]

Yep. Apparently the proof was in front of us the whole time.

You see, when he was promoting one of his books, which chronicled his alleged life, as an American, brilliantly creating a cover story no one could break, his literary agent, accidentally...published a booklet that exposed the shocking truth of his client's past...


Okay, a good test of skepticism here.

Why would this prove Obama's illegitimacy?

Is there any valid explanation for this booklet?

The answer is it doesn't, to the first, and yes to the latter.

This proves nothing. A booklet with information contradicted by EVERY other source, made casually by an underling for a book launching is not proof. It's an excuse for bad journalism. When you have one source, that contradicts others, you don't throw away the main sources, you determine why their is a difference. And by determine, you do not declare it is a conspiracy.

So, why was the booklet saying Obama was Kenyan? Was this determined? No. Maybe, someone delegated a basic job to an underling who didn't really care about this book launch anymore than the other dozen or so that were happening that week. And, maybe, they did half ass work for the event for a guy with a funny name talking about his ties to Kenya. Based on all the facts we actually know, how is this not deemed more likely than a deeply hidden secret shared and typed up in a publishing house? How is this not considered before conspiracy?

Because bad journalism isn't about sussing out the truth. It's about selling a claim. It is about not looking for the evidence, or acknowledging genuine and serious disputes over facts.

Breitbart's people excel at this sort of bad journalism. Once, they actually found a genuine scandal. But that followed after a long string of false scandals. Real or fake, they don't care. They are a tabloid, minus the self respect or dignity.

No comments: