Sloppy journalism terms, part one: Fact Check

The National Post has a Bloomberg News wire story about whether or not certain grossly misreported stories from the press singled out by American Spoiler Donald J. Trump were “fake news,” and decreed that is article was a “fact check.”

The stories in question were retracted by those who reported them; so let’s end a silly discussion. Journalists, to this day, harp on every real and perceived peccadillo of the president, no matter how petty and minute…but when their own gross negligence is exposed, boy, do they come up with a laundry list of twisted excuses why their sins are virtues, and why even banal things others do are just bad.

The press has now been reduced to weaselly and jealous older sibling tattling on their younger brother every chance they get. It has been truly pathetic.

But they are trying to bolster their credibility after being caught in numerous blunders all while framing it in clinical terms, the press has used the phrase “fact check.”

Fine, what does that mean?

What is your process of “fact-checking”?

Minimum number of sources? Standardized methods? Balances in place to prevent a confirmation bias? Appeal to authority, and the like?

No to all of the above.

It is just a word used to sound smart.

But let’s take it one step further: how good have journalists been at checking facts?

This week, a child fooled the press, who never bothered to “fact check” her statements.

It is a sloppy term that doesn’t actually mean anything. It just sounds as if someone did something “official” without having any standardized and empirically-tested protocols.

It really is that bad.

Let’s take a very recent example: a report that the “NYPD” raided the offices of Newsweek magazine.

Articles here, here, here, here, and here.

With contradictory accounts. Yes, it was the NYPD, no it wasn’t.

Where is the fact-checking? Why don’t reporters know what is going on with another media outlet?

Various media outlets sort of cribbing from each other with all sorts of “we don’t really know” narratives.

There are all sorts of reasons for a police to raid a media outlet. We cannot assume the outlet is good, bad, or neutral. Sometimes the reasons may be justified; other times, it is an outrage.

There are no facts to check here. Just gossip.

So when children can play the press, and when people in the profession cannot tell you anything definitive about a possible major happening in the newsrooms of a national publication, the notion of “fact-checking” becomes absurd.

It’s the reason the term is meaningless. 

The scientific method places all sorts of checks and balances when conducting studies, from double blinds to placebos.

Journalism has no such equivalent in its gathering — or in its fact-checking.

This has always been a serious void in the profession, and one I have discussed at length in all three of my books: that the absolutely essentials of the profession have no set standards and basic terms have never been truly defined.

Do not ever wonder how journalism failed: it failed because it never had the discipline to have gold standards and then know what needs to be done to improve their product.

And yet they have the audacity to say they know something about facts, when they do not even see the owns that did them in.

How did the Hijab Hoax happen? Journalism’s bigotry. Let’s not blame the school board.

The Hijab Hoax is an important lesson in understanding why Canadian journalism is dysfunctional.

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The Toronto Star was one of the biggest culprits in this whole rotten affair, even if they are trying to put the blame on the Toronto school board.

While the National Post and the Toronto Sun are also doing their shallow postmortems, let’s see the real problems with covering the story.

As I have said elsewhere, I have studied hoaxes for over twenty years, and I have seen many school kids in peril hoaxes: I cannot remember a single one where the media made such a big to-do, or ever released the child’s name and face, let alone what school they attended.

Because if this child is in danger, the last thing the press should do is help an attacker know the child’s identifying characteristics.

So even if the school board okayed it, and even if over-zealous mom and dad rant on Facebook, that does not mean the press has to go along with publicizing identifying details to make an attacker’s job easier.

The press doesn’t usually make a child this vulnerable; so the fact that they did is mystifying.

But there is a second reason why no credible reporter would have covered the story as it did.

Because all they had was the say-so of one person. The girl. You do not run with a story like that.

There were no witnesses. No surveillance footage. No evidence. They could have waited for more information before they pounced on it the way that they did.

So what was different that the press went overboard?

Racism.

They did not treat this girl in the same protective manner they treated other children in similar circumstances, whether their stories were true or not. They left her vulnerable in two critical ways: 1. If her story was true, then whoever harmed her once would know exactly where to harm here again, because the press also released the names of her parents, and it does not take a brain surgeon to then track her down.

2. If her story was false, she’s still just a child, and now this episode will haunt her for the rest of her life, and should she discovered the cure for cancer, her obituary will still slap her in the face with this episode. Kids with juvenile records get protection that she never did.

The press and even the Prime Minister saw the hijab, and then treated her as a pawn to show up how superior they were to Donald J. Trump.

Instead, they endangered and traumatized an 11 year-old in their shameful games.

If they saw her as the child that she is, they would have given her the same precautions they gave children before.

But they didn’t see her as a human being. That’s why this hoax exploded the way that it did: they did not perceive the situation realistically, and you cannot find a solution unless your facts, logic, and perceptions are based in truth and reality.

This is yet another black eye to Canadian journalism with global ramifications. They should have held back and verified, and when it was obvious the girl told a fib, they could have not made an international fiasco out of it. They shamed her. They shamed their country. They shamed their profession.

And there was no need for it. Not at all.

Covering petty little tyrants in Canada.

This is a CBC News story about the temper tantrum a Dundas Tim Hortons’ is throwing because they have to pay their workers a little bit more money.

Mind you, there are two locations in Dundas, and both were packed today.

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I don’t go into one of those dives. I am not a fan of Tim Hortons, and they are not getting rich from me.

They have a chokehold in hospitals, for instance, and the lineups there are very long.

But back to the story about how the Dundas location is no longer allowing workers to sample gross Timbits or get a paid break.

The weeping and wailing from the franchise owners is proof that when it comes to capitalism, Canada’s got the snowflake variety.

But that journalists don’t do easy checks is interesting.

How is taking away a free donut going to help the bottom line, for instance?

If I were covering the story, I would hang out in the back and see how much food gets thrown out by the franchises and begin to do the math.

And it would be same with every other business that is griping about paying workers more.

Grocery stores throw away meat, produce, and baked goods by the truckload every single day. They do not give that food to food banks, or sell at a discount.

They can afford to throw away meat, meaning animals are being slaughtered for no good reason, but a small hike in salary is going to crush them.

The National Post keeps howling in solidarity, but not doing even basic research, claiming that business owners are being “demonized.”

No, they aren’t. Being called on the carpet for being a petty snowflake is fair game. If you want to be a businessperson, you have to take criticism, and stop mugging for cameras looking for little trophies to slobber over in a press release.

But Canadian reporters do not know how to cover business and labour news.

For instance, many of the people picketing Tim Hortons are union leaders.

Most people are apathetic and, like a trained monkey, go back to stuff their gullets with bland food.

There are a million angles to cover. Those who are weeping over the pay raise have spewed theory after, theory, and those theories are very easy to disprove.

Just look in their dumpsters, for one.

After all, their excuses are garbage.

And the food is even worse

National Post’s narrative of Snowflake Capitalists.

Boo hoo.

How sad.

According to the National Post, Canada has incompetent capitalists who cannot endure increasing the minimum wage.

Snowflake capitalists.

And it is up to the Post to play superhero and save them from themselves.

Apparently, robber barons need to have many Mercedes in the driveways, even if it means workers have to be perpetually poor and take the bus to work.

Minimum wage workers have to support their bosses by living like paupers.

The National Post’s narrative is childish.

Capitalism has a rig that rewards hoarders: they have to grab all of the profits for themselves, as they starve those who bring them wealth.

Address that rig and society could actually flourish.

I am no fan of the Wynne regime, but seriously, with housing prices soaring in this province…utilities skyrocketing, and taxes ever increasing, not increasing the minimum wage will make working poor the working destitute.

Corporations should just shut up. They can afford to pay their workers much more.

They can afford to hire more full-time workers. They can afford to give them benefits. They can afford to train them properly.

No one is owed a mansion. Work hard to earn it, but know that once your workers are poor, your business acumen stops there.

In the same newspaper, it crows that Amazon robber baron Jeff Bezos is worth $100 BILLION.

And yet, globally, their workers are very poor and overworked.

Why is one man allowed to make $100 billion on the backs of his workers? That’s not capitalism.

That’s tyranny.

And National Post is howling because people might take home a little bit of money?

What about keeping up at the price of inflation?

But do not expect journalists to push for wage reform: journalists are very poorly paid, and media outlets are notorious for exploiting their workforce, wanting people to work for free.

But those owners still drive expensive cars and live in very tony neighbourhoods in beautiful homes.

Let us stop pretending that $15 an hour is a big deal.

Colleges have 80% of their professors working part-time; so having graduate degrees means nothing. We have allowed some people to flourish at the expense of others.

That is not capitalism.

That is snowflake capitalism: treating billionaires as special needs who get government money to impede their workers, as they are giving special laws to make a buck.

Businesses have had more rigs in their favour than their workers ever did.

And now that one province has one rig in favour of workers, the temper tantrums have exploded.

Shame on every person who wants people to stay poor.

You are very, very disturbed.

If a businessperson cannot make it work when they have gotten away with price fixing (hello, Loblaw!), corporate welfare, and weak labour laws, they have no business being in business.

You cannot allow hoarding because there will be no end to the demands.

People have to make ends meet renting out their rooms, selling their things, and using their leased car as a taxi.

How sad.

How pathetic.

Enough. If you cannot afford to pay your workers a livable wage, you are not business owner.

You are a snowflake.

And the world does not need another snowflake capitalist…

By the way…

If journalists were doing their jobs, they really ought to take pictures of the houses of those robber barons griping about the minimum wage hike versus those of minimum wage workers and compare them for the world to see…

Just as you thought the National Post could not be stupider when it comes to #MeToo…

Christie Blatchford opened her mouth. She perhaps is the worst columnist Canada ever had, but “quality” and “journalism” were never words that could go together in Canada. She is a misogynist’s dream woman: attack and blame other women on cue, defend men whose testosterone is not strong enough to deal with the slightest trace of estrogen, and then use all sorts of sophistry to deflect attention away from the truth.

She has never been an actual journalist, only an apologist for authorities.

She has been whining about the #MeToo movement from day one, and today’s contrived and manipulative offering has been no different.

The demented reasoning this time? Well, now this movement is making predatory men seem worse than they are, and that really, they aren’t that bad.

No, Ms. Blatchford, it has been far worse.

Or do you think Matt Lauer had a good reason to have a button on his desk to lock his office, or that Harvey Weinstein had a right to rape Rose McGowan?

Are you really going to be an apologist for psychopathic behaviour?

The propagandists at the Post have never been in tune with reality, but let us apply Ms. Blatchford’s archaic form of demented logic elsewhere:

All these rape victims, should just shut up once already because they talk about it all the time, and really, it is time they just got over it, and we talk about something more important, like what socks the prime minister wore this morning.

All these people who have spent decades in jail for crimes they didn’t commit should shut up about it because they got free room and board and the justice system isn’t as bad as they say it is.

Cancer patients should also just stop talking about all that depressing cancer stuff once already because they lived long enough, and we shouldn’t be talking about it because it’s just a witch hunt against cancer cells.

And murder! We should just not talk about killers because they probably aren’t as bad as most crime reporters portray them. I am getting particularly bored hearing about all Aboriginal Women getting killed or disappearing, and the press should just stop reporting it. If it goes on, people might get an idea that there is some sort of genocide going on against them.

Memo to self-loathing women such as Christie Blatchford: #MeToo is a volcano that erupted because that’s what happens when you try to suppress abuse for a prolonged period of time. It erupted thanks to twits like you who were always trying to shut down other women who were getting abused at work, and then trying to spin a false narrative the women are nothing but shrews and liars who use sex to get things.

Perhaps that is the way you always operated, Ms Blatchford, but that was never the way I operated, and I am not an anomaly.

People get abused at work every single day. It doesn’t go away. It never goes away. It can get better when everyone stands up to tyrants and robber barons who made it on terrorizing other people.

But when people keep quiet, it gets worse because there is no one to stand up to them, and abusers never know when to quit.

We have multi-billionaires who got that wealthy not because they are brilliant, but because they exploited workers, lobbied for laws to favour their interests, and managed to get the press to hide their sins and give them fawning press coverage.

And then, when we hear about workers falling asleep at the job as they cannot afford to live in a shack and are sleeping in their broke-down car, the world gets surprised.

If you can mistreat your employees by starving them and giving them precarious employment, it is not a stretch to force them to do other degrading things.

That women in the communications industry are finally speaking out instead of continuing a Stepford lie that everything is just happy, happy, happy and they should be envied should not come as any surprise.

In fact, hard news stories about women’s treatment in the workplace should not be a one-off issue: it should have a permanent place in a legitimate news producing vehicle.

That’s right: it should be a regular beat.

Women make up over half the population, but we do not have hard news segments to what matters to them.

You know, to inform women of the things that will impact their daily lives, and yes, how their workplace is functioning is extremely important.

Journalism always catered to men, as women are not even afterthoughts to them. Journalists were always waitresses, maids, and nannies to the Great Men (not the everyman) whose egos need constant reassuring because deep in their marrow, they know what they are doing is vile, heartless, but most of all, a sham.

And wrong.

Blatchford is not a journalist, but a nanny, trying to clean up the messes of the brats and shut out any fact based in truth and reality that the journalism business is a rotten place that has caused many problems in modern society.

She may be a misogynist’s best friend, but she is no friend to the truth.

Quite possibly, the stupidest column on sexual harassment ever written. National Post, just how far have you sunk?

Journalism was never science. It has never even been social science. It always was a profession that made a name for itself informing millions of people on the fly with no context or mechanisms to put information in proper context without sophistry.

Once upon a time this primitive form of information-gathering was acceptable since no one really knew any better, but as societies around the world progressed and people became more educated, that sloppy neglect no longer should have been tolerated.

But is still being actively tolerated, and even celebrated by the press as being a method without reproach, leading to infecting information disseminated to the public.

Case in point, a recent column by Jen Gerson for the National Post called The Weinstein Effect is the first cultural victory social conservatives have scored in decades.

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The entire premise of this dreck is that somehow, demanding that the default behaviour at the workplace is to treat everyone with respect and dignity as everyone just do their jobs, is somehow social conservatism.

Sex has nothing to do with what we call sexual harassment. It’s a misnomer. It should be relabeled workplace terrorism or workplace abuse. It has nothing to do with sex: it is a psychological weapon and a stratagem of war: you want to dominate and control your environment that you view as a battleground. You want to be on the top of a pecking order. Your abilities are mediocre, but you want to prove a point that your cunning is more valuable than talent, brains, diligence, honour, and morality combined.

So you play games to take down the competition, ensuring everyone loses focuses and fears you, so they cannot do their best, or think to challenge you.

So, if you have no creative ideas, you plagiarize and steal other people’s ideas because they are too busy researching and thinking to schmooze and case ideas to raid as their own.

You start to gossip and isolate potential stars in the workplace so that everyone hates them so they cannot get promoted or bring the “troops” together on their side.

You encourage people to do things that will taint their reputation, so you can blackmail them into bringing you along with them to different departments — and when you part ways, you have something to smear them with so they either lose clout, or just lose their jobs.

Nothing personal.

Just as you also sexually harass underlings who you see as a threat.

It is a siege by attacking someone to make them feel as small, helpless, and vulnerable as they possibly can.

Harvey Weinstein turned actresses into disposable toilet paper: he built them up, and then, just as they began to feel confident enough…

He used them, reminded them who was predator and who was prey. There would be no more feeling pride about their job again. They became afraid, lost focus and confidence, and he went on to secure his power as they all began to fade and never reach their potential because they could feel no security in their chosen profession.

It was the same reasoning for the September 11 attacks — it was bringing emotional anarchy to a place where you make your living and life. There is no escape, and your haven turns into your prison.

Predators are not attracted to people they sexually harass — they see them as threats to be neutralized and turned into pawns to do their bidding. They see these people with contempt and jealousy, not lust.

The abused will show fear on their faces, signalling to the uninitiated that they have no reason to feel safe or brave, and the seeds of destruction are planted.

And in the case of Al Franken, a coworker cannot even have the luxury of necessary sleep before she is degraded and a trophy of her vulnerability is taken.

For Roger Ailes, it was to let the female employees know there was no getting away from the Great Man who was a god who knew all, and saw all.

It was a game of Go to these men, not sex. They use what works, and if the first women who were attacked had been champion boxers who were given advanced warning, and beat the garbage out of those men as they filmed it and posted it in public — believe me, those predators would switch to some other form of combat.

And to the clueless Ms Gerson, workplace terrorism was happening long before the sexual revolution.

It’s not about the sex, you stupid, stupid twit. Take off your little blinders and have a look around your own toxic newsroom with your thinking mode turned on.

To equate demanding dignity and the right to do your job and be properly compensated for it is not about social conservatism.

It is about being civilized and a normal human being, something the Post obviously knows nothing about.

It is not about being on the Left or the Right, you binary woman. It is about wanting to do your job without having losers sabotage you.

Just get out of my way.

But that ignorant thinking permeates through newsrooms, and it should come as no surprise that journalism is rife with incompetent predators who cannot actually do their jobs, hijacked the profession, and then destroyed it, but are still trying to draw a pay check as they are not held accountable for their own nicompoopity.

Do not be surprised that journalism is no longer a thing.

The workplace terrorists burned that profession to the ground a long time ago, and honestly believe the tripe they allowed to be disseminated in their papers has something that resembles intellectual value.

It doesn’t.

That column is ignorance in its purest form.

And proves only one thing: that an irresponsible press has no business being in business at all.

Why the Canadian journalism fell into the abyss

The Global Times almost got it right when it said:

The superiority and narcissism of the Canadian media, that Canada is being pursued by China, is beyond words.

Well, they shouldn’t be talking, either. Egotism and journalism have been going together for a very long time.

And it is the reason journalism collapsed. Hubris is a bad quality to have when you are a news producer.

But in Canada, the collapse has been far more pronounced because of the small population, coupled with government enabling an industry through their welfare payments/government grants. Even so-called “private” broadcasters received money from the government, or they wouldn’t be functioning.

The National Post’s Andrew Coyne was letting a green-eyed monster guest-write his column lamenting how CBC wants to charge five bucks a month for “premium” access to their latest app.

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It won’t help Canadian journalism’s fortunes. When you took an easy way out by applauding your prime minister’s penchant for taking selfies, you have signalled to potential news consumers that everything in their country is fine, and no one needs to bother getting informed because you are not the outlet to do it.

And with the press consistently talking down to people, their fortunes can only go downhill from there.

But it was all propped up with government paying for everything one way or another, but as the tax base erodes, there is less money to fund things.

So Canadian news producers never actually understood how the world really worked.

Just like the teenager who lives rent-free in their parents’ house and then looks down on the homeless kids whose parents threw them out.

And then has the gall to go up to the dispossessed ones and tell them what they should do because he knows better.

Journalists desperately need more than just a humbling, but their arrogance has gotten more out of control as they lose their own power and clout.

CBC is the kid who is heavily subsidized by the Bank of Mom and Dad, and their coverage reflects their perpetual ignorance of the world.

Because their interpretation of reality has been tainted by their confining perceptions.

They can charge for their service, but it’s not going to save their fortunes.

Because they are disconnected from reality.

But there is no credible alternative to take their place. Nothing will reignite the need for news so long as there is no alternative way to journalism.

And we need that alternative now.

Not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world, including China, because for all their clout, their journalistic innovations and contributions to news producing leaves just as much to be desired.

And when you realize an entire planet filled with educated people have not done a thing with it, it is a very disturbing truth to face.