If there wasn’t so much news at the moment, especially surrounding the President-elect of the United States, then we would just be reading about the weather and precious little else. Either that, or trying to struggle through stories about dogs, cats, and miraculous twins. And there we have a problem: there is so much news, so many reports, it is hard to fight a way through them all to get to the facts. Quick responses, denials, fake news, conspiracies, they are all there and, as far as we can see, they have been specifically placed together so that some matters which should be of note or interest sink below the radar.
It used to be that any news a government or company didn’t want a reaction to – such as bad annual reports or unpopular legislation – would be pushed through right before a weekend or when most people are asleep. With the advent of the Internet much has changed: the news media never sleeps and print run times no longer exist. A news item no longer has to be written and edited in time for the printed version of a newspaper to be laid to bed, it can be worked on and published on the Internet at any time of the day or night. The result: some entities start bringing out their unpopular items along with a mass of other information, in the hope that popular stories will take the headlines, and what they don’t want to be seen will vanish under the load. Help is given here by so-called news media who have no connection to journalism whatsoever, but push out fake news, conspiracy theories, and plausible stories to a willing audience, shoving the real news into the background and, often, causing those who should be working on matters of the real world to concentrate on killing or diminishing the damage caused.
Photo Source: Theilr – Creative Commons
One of the big stories which hit the headlines today has been from Buzzfeed, an online news portal with a very broad range of interests. They published a dossier of so-called evidence alleging many infractions by the President-elect, Donald Trump, including what can only be called a perverted action of revenge against the current President: the hiring of prostitutes to foul a bed used by the President in a Russian hotel. For anyone who is unsure what a Golden Shower is, here is a brief SFW description.
This publication was immediately jumped upon by news media and politicians alike. Some reported the publication, without going into too much detail, simply referring back to the original. Others, especially the politicians, began attacking Buzzfeed for publication of the dossier and making various claims about its veracity and the standards of the news portal in publishing an unverified document as if it were factual.
Reading through the article on Buzzfeed, however, a completely different story emerges. The title of the piece sets the form for anyone reading further with the use of the word ‘allege’. The sub-header goes even further:
The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.
And then throughout the text are qualifications highlighting the fact that these claims have not been verified, and perhaps cannot be verified. The dossier has been published to allow the public – or at least readers of Buzzfeed – to make their own decisions. It also allows other news organizations the opportunity to use their resources to investigate and confirm or deny the allegations. From this point of view, Buzzfeed and its reporters has covered itself very carefully. They are making it clear that the allegations may be Fake News, that the allegations compiled by a former British intelligence officer are not confirmed and should be taken as a report on unsubstantiated information from several unnamed sources who may or may not have a different agenda. An attack on Buzzfeed is, therefore, unjustified, especially when looking through reports and news items by almost every other news portal worldwide, where similar instances of unsubstantiated information can be found.
It now only remains for these allegations to be investigated and either substantiated or dismissed as lies. Attacking Buzzfeed is not the way to go, neither is attacking Donald Trump, until the truth behind these allegations, this collection of snippets from unnamed sources can be brought to light.
- Viktoria Michaelis.