Stupid media stunts: The lie detector test.

When a story becomes a freak show, journalists often stoop to silly stunts to add to the freakdom.

The CBC’s Fifth Estate has gotten on the Barry Sherman bandwagon.

We have a colourful character shooting his mouth off to the press.

He makes allegations that the press wants to eat up, but in such a way that they can seem serious and not clowns.

So CBC opts to give said colourful character a lie detector test…as if they were reliable and valid.

And they are not.

They are not foolproof. Honest, innocent, but jittery people can fail them just as easily as guilty psychopaths can pass them.

But the point is that it is not a tool for journalists, even if they hire an outsider to do it.

It is. staple of police procedurals programs that are fiction, and used for drama.

Journalism is not about drama. It is about facts.

On the one hand, reporters have their noses in the air, trashing talking someone to whom they gave a platform. They want their cake and eat it, too.

From the beginning, they have been playing stenographers with this case: when they heard gossip that it was a murder-suicide, they ran with it. When the family paid experts who decided it was a double homicide, they ran with it. When the family demands praise, they praise.

What are the facts?

Information verification is not something that can be done with a polygraph. They are being used less than before for a reason.

It’s a cheap stunt being used in a sucker circus, and it is doing nothing to resurrect a dead profession.

Lapdog intellectuals and why journalism lost its way.

The model of journalism was flawed from the get-go: journalists gave the story, but how news consumers decided to process those facts was never really challenged.

Do you believe everything you’re told, like a good little doggie?

Or do you distrust everything the media tells you?

Neither method helps. I find a lot of people go the lapdog route when the story sways the same way they do politically, and shut out anything that questions that narrative.

I have found that Left or Right are, at most, half correct, and that neither side can have any airs of being superior to the other. Propaganda is on both sides, and it is the reason I reject both sides.

However, skepticism of facts is a better way to go. We have to always ask where did someone get the information and how rigorously they tested the information. Even when  facts seem right, we still should question what those facts mean. You examine each before deciding if the fact is good, or if it is a lie.

But the lapdog method seems very prevalent among those who see themselves as educated. It is lapdog intellectualism: stick to a few publications that reaffirm your political beliefs, and use those publications as blinders to the actual reality around you.

Harper’s is the lapdog intellectual’s best friend, and the reason I don’t bother much with it, but they are hardly the only ones who preach to the converted.

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Because the problem with lapdog intellectuals is they never question how a story is actually put together.

They think processed cheese naturally comes in a gummy, orangey square.

I am reminded of CBC’s The Fifth Estate’s disastrous documentary in 1996 that resulted in them losing a libel case with the judge giving out the largest settlement in Canadian history.

It was bad journalism through and through, with cartoonish heroes and villains cast — and highly manipulative optics and editing.

The “field notes” in the case had clearly shown a bias, and the judge in the case had very harsh words for those involved in the segment.

The problem was executives thought they’d win the case and that they did nothing wrong.

The entire set-up was wrong, from beginning to end, but to those who believe, they will defend it.

You let the facts make the case. You do not have gushy visuals of who you deem “the good guy”, and extreme close-ups of the one who decide is the villain. The facts should do that for you.

Media skepticism is needed: not just fault-finding with one Partisan side, but with the entire journalistic set-up. It makes it ripe for ideological hijacking and blatant propaganda.

But the lure of people who need to be reassured their thoughts are “right” is too much for media outlets. It is pandering, of course, nothing more.

It is difficult to be a radical centrist and hold everyone accountable equally. We don’t actually have that sort of journalism, and it shows.