While Social Media Was Quick To Highlight And Limit The Spread Of False Claims Of Election Victory, Traditional Media Just Let It Flow

from the guys,-seriously? dept

For four years, all we've been hearing about is how social media was this terrible source of disinformation that had to be regulated because they were destroying democracy and all that. And so what happened last night/early this morning when Donald Trump falsely tried to claim he had won prior to all the votes being counted? Twitter and Facebook both reacted pretty quickly to flag the information, and highlight that it was misleading or false (and Twitter limited the ability to share it).


Meanwhile, nearly every major TV station allowed Trump to give his speech directly, in which he falsely claimed that he had already won states where there were still many votes to be counted, insisted that the counting of votes must be stopped (and claiming he was going to ask the Supreme Court to stop the count), and suggesting that there was fraud going on in a few states that still had significant mail-in ballots to count (most of which they hadn't been able to count prior to yesterday because of Republican legislatures blocking that ability). There was no attempt to delay what he was saying, to contextualize it or to point out it was wrong until well after it had broadcast.

And then you had journalistic malpractice via the Associated Press. Two of its White House reporters, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire, decided to do a "straight" tweet repeating what Trump had said, without any context, without any caveats or context, as if it were factual reporting.


It's flabbergasting that the AP would take this view from nowhere approach to reporting on something so critical. And, even worse, since so many local newspapers just rerun AP newswire, that's the take that many people are going to see.

Other sources got it correct. Buzzfeed -- a site that old school journalists used to love to mock -- did a hell of a lot more journalism than the AP:

The Guardian, a UK paper, got the story correct as well:

We've been noting in the past year how studies have shown that TV news is the key source for disinformation and how it doesn't tend to go viral on social media until after it appears on TV.

So can someone explain to me why it is everyone wants to rush out and blame social media for disinformation?

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Filed Under: content moderation, disinformation, donald trump, elections, fact checking, jonathan lemire, media, social media, zeke miller
Companies: ap, associated press, buzzfeed, facebook, guardian, twitter


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  1. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 4 Nov 2020 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Several reasons:

    1. The Iraq War Crime was extremely unpopular and it partially led Obama to victory (the other was the 2008 stock market crash). Of course, when a Democrat is elected president as a progressive or a (non-right-wing) populist, they tend to abandon some of their campaign promises (to be fair to Obama, he kept some of his, such as the Iran deal). Republicans tend to either keep theirs or make it worse.

    2. Much as people want to escape the two-party system in the US, we've always had one. First it was the Federalists vs. the Democratic-Republicans, then the Democrats vs. the Whigs, and now the current state of the Democrats vs. the Republicans. If a third party were to ever be elected president again, it's only to replace a dead second party.

    3. It wasn't until recently that an actual American left wing was revived in both the federal (see: representatives AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley) and state (See Delegate Lee Carter in Virginia, State Senators Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato in Pennsylvania, and State Senator Julia Salazar in New York State) level. McCarthyism in the 1950's suppressed open leftism for generations and it wasn't until recently where people's economic well-being was so poor that they thought socialism seemed like a good idea again.

    4. You know how bad and insular Hollywood is? Washington is like that, except they have actual power (the MPAA wouldn't have power if it weren't for Washington). People in Washington don't give a shit about what's happening in the real world or how people can make ends meet or the consequences of their actions; it is an island in and of itself.

    Did that answer your question?


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