27 October 2019

Clown World Without End

To call today's seminal news event "significant" would be a study in ironic understatement. The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an attack by US Special Forces is a major blow to the ISIS terrorist organization, and quite possibly the death knell for any thought of the ISIS caliphate reconstituting itself within the territories of Iraq and Syria.

For any advocate of Western culture and Western civilization, the death of al-Baghdadi is a sobering moment, but a positive one. al-Baghdadi was a terrorist, and a particularly vile and violent terrorist, responsible for the deaths of thousands in cruel and barbaric fashion. It is no exaggeration to say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was an evil human being, and an enemy of all mankind. While I generally refrain from celebrating the demise of another human being, it would be difficult not to acknowledge the good his death will do in the Middle East.

My own sentiments are summarized in my post on Gab:


Washington, DC, for its part, alternated between congratulatory praise (mostly from Republicans), to somewhat predictable pouting from Democrats at having been kept out of the loop until after the attack was concluded.

Yet while we congratulate the US Military and President Trump for this undeniable victory, we must ask a troublesome and troubling question:

What on Earth is wrong with the legacy media?



As my Gab posting shows, Bloomberg had a rather anodyne obituary of al-Baghdadi. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post went even farther in sanitizing the bloody legacy of the ISIS leader, rewriting their initial obituary headline, removing "terrorist-in-chief" in favor of "extremist leader of Islamic State".
The original headline as of this morning


The headline as of this writing


Congressman Steve Scalise captured the repugnant irony of the Washington Post headline revision perfectly on Twitter:
The cynical view of this is that the legacy media, and in particular the Washington Post, is engaging in clickbait journalism. Their headline revisions have the absolutely foreseeable effect of making the paper's coverage of the story part of the story. The Twitterverse is replete with many online commentators, including several political figures, weighing in, not on the killing of al-Baghdadi, which is a legitimate news event, but on the Washington Post's headline, which is anything but legitimate news--and I will acknowledge the irony in decrying the headline as illegitimate "Fake" news even as I comment at length on it here.

It takes no great stretch of imagination to envision the Washington Post driving a few more mouse clicks, and a few more bits of ad revenue, by creating this controversy. It is speculation, of course, and I do not claim any inside information about this, but it is a speculation that fits the available facts, and the known tendencies of the legacy media to pursue clickbait narratives at the expense of the facts and contexts of a particular story. It is a perfectly proper logical conclusion to impute the outcomes of an action as the intended outcome, and so it is fair to presume, with the evidence of controversy surrounding the Post, that this was the intended outcome.

Clown World, it seems, is to be eternal. Narratives for the sake of revenue truly are the business model of the legacy media, and not even a major news event will motivate them to break away from that profit-driven strategy to treat serious news seriously, with at least some objectivity and some effort to contain biases.

That may be their choice. It is a bad choice. Worse, it is an unnecessary choice.

ISIS has been sufficiently in the minds of Americans--and indeed people around the world--that this event would grab everyone's attention even without clickbait. al-Baghdadi's demise is, ultimately, a positive event for the Western world, but also for the moderate portions of the Islamic world. al-Baghdadi had a bloody hand in bringing about the bloody civil war that has afflicted Syria for years, and on that basis alone a great many Muslim people arguably have cause to breathe a sigh of relief at his passing.

Surely this is interest enough to drive enough mouse clicks, and generate enough ad revenue, to satisfy the heads of the legacy media companies?

For everyone else, the Washington Post headline, and Bloomberg's sanitizing of al-Baghdadi's past, are yet another reminder of how untrustworthy the legacy media truly is, and how skeptical we should be of everything they report. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that if the Washington Post reports the sun rising in the east tomorrow, the smart reader will be up at the crack of dawn to visually confirm the statement.

With many more important news stories out there than the death of the ISIS leader, this disregard for credibility by the legacy media will only serve to drive the readership of alternative media and alternative publications. Organizations such as Breitbart, One America News Network, and The Epoch Times all rightly deserve modest praise for at least acknowledging the reality of ISIS and of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In the wake of the Russian Collusion Hoax, and in the growing mudfest its sequel, "Russian Collusion 2: Ukrainian Boogaloo", this failure by the legacy media to capture a moment by reporting the facts and not their hyperpartisan anti-Trump narratives only serves to underscore how lacking in legitimacy and credibility the legacy media is. 

Truly, the case is being made by the legacy media that to read the legacy media is to be misinformed. With or without clickbait journalism, that is not an image that will sustain the legacy media very far into the future.

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