Journalism these days reminds me of The Walking Dead: you have a bunch of walkers going around, trying to infect a populace, making them as dead — and brain dead — as they are.
We don’t really look at the motives of zombies in stories, and why they need to feast on the living (especially their brains, as opposed to a heart or liver), when they are actually dead.
It’s a good question for a storyteller, but also for those who are media skeptics.
Why do those who refuse to think think to ensure no one else thinks either?
Journalism is a dead profession. It has been for a good long while.
But it could hide its inert state for a while, until Donald Trump won the presidency when he bypassed them.
This was unprecedented: no contender could ignore the press, let alone insult them, and then go on Twitter like an everyman and get the votes to win.
Oddly enough, this was a liberating turn of events since journalism used to hold the monopoly on information dissemination. They were the gate-keepers who told the dutiful, naive, and insecure Middle Class what was acceptable to think, do, dress, wear, and live.
Trump trumped them, and did his own thing.
And he knew who they were because once upon a time, he courted them and got lots of free advertising — not just in soft news sections, but hard news sections.
It was the New York Times that gave him his legitimacy in 1976 in a lovey-dovey kissy-faced profile.
So if he calls the press “fake news”, he ought to know who they really are.
And, as someone who has studied the media for over twenty years, I can say that, yes, journalism is a real form of fake news.
It is shoddy and unscientific. It is biased, manipulative, and rarely relies on facts, but sophistry, narrative and colour, the same tools in a propagandist’s arsenal.
So when the New York Times’ Steven Erlanger whines that now any tyrant can claim “Fake News!”, Mr. Erlanger can blame his own profession for that problem.
He can blame former colleagues Jayson Blair and Judith Miller for antics in fake news, but it goes deeper than that.
Because journalism did not want to bother with the facts, but perks of power, they slowly began using their own version of the 36 Stratagems of War to maintain as much control of the power to influence as they could.
It is a conniving way of conducting your daily affairs, and it should come as no surprise that so many journalists and editors have been fired for terrorizing female employees.
It is a feint to seem more powerful than you actually are.
With that article, the Times is practicing another stratagem: offence is the best defence. Accuse everyone who sees your deceptions as an villain bad guy who is out to take over the world.
It could not possibly be people who have seen them up close as they used press releases as fodder for their news stories, and then pretended they dodged bullets to get the truth.
It is all about optics. Trump called them out, and dumped them the first chance he could.
Because he saw the writing on the wall and realized they were just a bunch of zombies bumbling around, and cut them.
And that made the zombies angry.
So, they declared war on those who are still among the living, trying to get them to stop doing their own thinking.
The New York Times has had too many screw ups over the years to be trusted. The news media needs an intervention that brings discipline to it, but as those who were already corrupted by once having power will not have any of that, they need real competition.
As in, an alternative form of news gathering and dissemination.
One based in science, not stratagems.
And one that reveres critical and free thinking over the mindless games of zombies.