You Are Being Manipulated
Big Tech and Media Narrative-building Is Normalized to the Point of Being Mundane
The confidence of those who hold decision-making authority at major news outlets and tech companies is truly profound.
So profound, in fact, that these individuals may no longer even consciously realize that they’re pushing an agenda at all. Doing so has become so ingrained, so reflexive, that they experience genuine confusion over the dwindling trust the public has in them and their institutions.
Note that when I say “those who hold authority,” that doesn’t necessarily mean the people at the top of the masthead. More and more, the power-wielders at these institutions are often junior staffers who frighten the ostensible leaders.
Either way, what’s important is that the agenda-driven framing is now ubiquitous-so much so that it seems almost like background noise.
I contrast this ambient media dishonesty with the big, glaring, semi-coordinated examples like this week’s revelation (but not really) that the Hunter Biden laptop wasn’t “disinformation.” That was a plainly concerted effort by media and big tech to do everything in their power to make sure Joe Biden had an easier path to the White House, ethics be damned.
And, with their mission safely accomplished, they remain unrepentant.
Whether they admit it or not, the suppression and censorship of the laptop story was an ends-justify-the-means campaign to keep Donald Trump from winning a second term. Some of them knowingly lied, and many others simply chose to ignore evidence. They proved-again-that they cannot be trusted.
That’s it. Simple. Undeniable.
But I’m not even talking about that type of egregious, inexcusable example. I’m talking about the far more common case: the subtle, daily ways in which these companies frame news, or augment or downplay stories, in order to influence an audience.
Let’s take just one random example on one day from one company. The picture below shows a “What’s Happening?” sidebar on Twitter on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
Here, we see three stories. The first is a trending topic involving sports and political commentator Clay Travis, a common target for the left.
Note the purported reason he’s trending: he has allegedly linked Kyrie Irving’s career-high scoring output to his vaccination status. What Travis actually said was this:
Clearly, this is a tongue-in-cheek comment mocking those who suggest that a young, healthy person’s failure to vaccinate presents a significant health risk.
Twitter’s trending topic folks, however, want to make Travis look as bad as possible, so they lie about the meaning. On top of that, they frame the story as “Clay Travis receives criticism,” as if a substantial portion-or even a majority-of the people reacting to the story aren’t supportive (or at least understand the joke).
The lesson: In the hands of the Twitter team, a sarcastic joke meant to poke fun at COVID safety zealots becomes a laughable assertion by an obvious idiot that (understandably!) “draws criticism.”
The obvious point here is that Twitter has chosen a side (pro-safetyism / anti-Travis) and frames their ostensibly neutral “What’s Happening?” to make it seem like their position is simply objective reality.
Next, there’s the promoted story about pets in Ukraine. Now, I love animals. And my sympathies are also with Ukraine in its fight against Russian invasion.
But that’s the point. Most people feel the same way about both topics. And Twitter wants a story that plays on some pretty basic human emotions to receive this spotlight because they have an editorial goal of pushing Americans toward a more interventionalist position.
Finally, there’s “A video of VP Harris and Polish President Duda laughing at a press conference has been misrepresented, fact-checkers say.”
Two points. First, addressing this at all is the sort of thing you would expect from a comms shop on a political party’s payroll. I’m not saying Twitter is on the Dems’ payroll (they’ll happily do this for free, after all), only that they gladly perform this service to mitigate any criticism that might be lobbed at “The Biden / Harris Administration.”
Secondly, how do they achieve this goal? By appealing to authority-authority, which, again, is ostensibly neutral and objective.
This is normally done through vague references to “scientists” or “experts” or, as here, “fact-checkers.”
If we’ve learned anything in the past five years, it’s that “fact-checkers” are, broadly speaking, hardly agenda-free.
But Twitter will swiftly cite fact-checkers who might soften even the most minor of offenses directed toward progressives or others with whom Twitter agrees.
And you are supposed to shut up. After all, are you a “scientist?” Are you an “expert?” Are you a “fact-checker?”
Then your only option is to shut up, agree, and obey.
While the Hunter Biden laptop story is an unmitigated disaster for mainstream media’s already-damaged credibility, these daily affronts to good sense are the types of actions that slowly erode trust over the long run and do more cumulative damage.
When a big tech company daily, hourly, constantly tells people “Don’t believe your lying eyes, listen to our truth,” it doesn’t take long for those people to figure out who’s actually doing the lying.
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