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The Lying Media

Entry 2047, on 2020-06-08 at 21:07:01 (Rating 5, News)

I have always been suspicious of the media. In a post titled "Gell-Mann Amnesia", from 2019-06-18, I pointed out the phenomenon where a person examining any article in a mainstream media source (newspapers, TV, radio, etc) which is about a subject they are an expert on will find numerous errors, omissions, exaggerations, biases, and outright lies. I certainly find that myself; any article in the MSM about stuff I know a fair amount about (computers, astronomy, etc) will quickly be found to be problematic. The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect states that we then go on to articles where we don't know so much and assume they are accurate. Why would we do that? It is safer to assume that everything in the media is similarly flawed.

There are two reasons of this problem: the first is pure incompetence, because most reporters are completely clueless about the subjects they are reporting on, and modern news is done quickly rather than thoroughly. The second is pernicious bias, and this is far more problematic.

I'm sure that not every single item in the MSM is wrong or significantly inaccurate - because they must get something right occasionally, even if purely by good luck rather than skill - but it is safest to assume that that you are being lied to, mislead, or having a distorted perspective presented to you. Whenever I see something in the media that I am interested in, I immediately research it properly to find the truth, and the media are almost always wrong.

Often this doesn't really matter, and in most individual cases of reporting some bias or inaccuracy is not too problematic. But when it occurs over and over again on important issues it does become a major societal problem. Democracy depends on voters making informed decisions, and that will never happen while people are ignorant.

And of course, this phenomenon is being seen in an extreme form during the "Black Lives Matter" protests currently happening around the world. I have seen a lot of information about this in various mainstream sources on this subject: two New Zealand national newspapers, and my local newspaper; two New Zealand TV channels; so-called "respected" sources in the US, such as the New York Times; Radio New Zealand; and common internet sources, such as Wired, Digg, Medium, etc.

Here's the message you might get from these sources...
George Floyd was a peaceful black man murdered by a white police officer.
There is institutional racism in the US, especially from police.
This issue also occurs to varying extents in other countries.
Protests, even destructive violent ones, are a valid way to address the issue.

Here's the reality...
George Floyd was a violent criminal who had committed numerous crimes.
We can't say there was a murder until a trial is completed.
There is no evidence of any significant level of systemic racism in the US.
There is even less of a case for widespread racism in most other countries.
Protests just make the situation worse by unnecessarily dividing communities.

I do have to make an admission here: that is that I am being deliberately provocative above, and some of the "reality" is really my interpretation of the facts. Depending on your perspective, you might arrive at a different answer, but my conclusions are at least as good as the mainstream media narrative, and I believe actually much better.

There is one other thing I need to say before I go further too: whatever the facts, I think the treatment of Floyd was unnecessarily violent, and the cop should have released the hold when he had successfully restrained the suspect, so I do support the incident being investigated and any possible criminal charges which might result from a *fair* trial.

But I did wonder why the cop would have acted the way he did. The media would have us believe it is because he is a racist thug, but are there other possibilities? What sort of person was Floyd?

Well I only discovered it today, but he really wasn't a good, innocent, gentle, or reasonable person at all. He as at least as much a violent thug as the cop, and probably a lot worse. But I would never have known this from the mainstream media. In fact, I double and triple checked these facts because they just didn't show up in conventional sources.

When I searched "George Floyd police record" most of the hits didn't even relate to that topic. I got numerous reports from the MSM describing other, peripheral issues. But eventually I found some real information.

First, here is a description of this aspect of his life from Wikipedia: "After several arrests for theft and drug possession, Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion, which he committed with five other men, during which he forced his way inside the residence, placed a pistol against the complainant's abdomen, and forced her into the living room area of the residence; he made a plea deal in 2009 and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was paroled in 2013 after spending four years at the Diboll Unit."

His list of offences shows 9 items, including aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, possession, trespass, and theft. There is also an unconfirmed story that he was on drugs (probably meth) when he was arrested and violently resisted. Floyd was quite tall - 6 foot 6 inches - and might have posed a serious threat to the police.

Again, I don't want to suggest that the method of restraint used (which was permitted by the police force in that city) for that period of time, leading to death, was fully justified, but I do believe that the facts I have found might have made a difference to many people's opinions on the subject. So why did we not see this highly relevant material in the MSM? Because it didn't fit their narrative. This is a clear lie by omission.

In my previous blog post, "Emotion vs Rationality" from 2020-06-04, I stated why I don't think there is a good case for systemic racism by US police, and the case for other countries, like the UK, is even weaker. But again, the information people might need to form a fair opinion on this is missing. It is like the media actually want to see uninformed, mindless mobs destroying society.

Most media companies are controlled by white people, and they seem to be interested in nothing but promoting false stories which favour black people. How is this repressing black lives? Why can't the media give us all the facts so we can decide if there are any real problems we need to deal with? Pretending all the problems in the black community are caused by racism and repression isn't doing anyone any good. By making white people feel like racists it makes their lives a bit worse, but by refusing to acknowledge the necessary reforms in the black community it makes their lives a whole lot worse.

The problem isn't really white racists, even though they really exist; the problem isn't black criminals, even though they also exist. The problem is the lying media.

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Comment 2 (5299) by Derek Ramsey on 2020-06-09 at 10:45:02: (view earlier comments)

Derek said: "I believe all of these were honest mistakes"

The mistakes are "honest" in the sense that they are expected in their current context. However, the reason we expect mistakes is because we have low journalistic and editorial standards. Despite my skepticism, I’m still conditioned to automatically excuse mistakes, so imagine how quickly the non-skeptical embrace whatever they are told!

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Comment 3 (5300) by OJB on 2020-06-09 at 10:45:23:

I think the majority of errors are probably just caused by neglect or having insufficient time to check material correctly. That is a consequence of the “fast news cycle” we have now, where being the first to report something is extra important. The core of my argument here though is news being biased through selection of what to report and what not to report. That is less common, but also more consequential, and less excusable.

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Comment 4 (5302) by EK on 2020-06-10 at 13:24:22:

This is not your main point, but perhaps it needs to be said too. OK, Flynn was not a “nice” person. In the meantime news reports have come up with information about the cop who used his knee as a killing instrument. He wasn’t a nice person either. All of this is irrelevant to the principle of the act in question. There is a reason why before a court the accused is not looked at holistically but only information directly relevant to the case is usually admitted. Character references, to my knowledge, are only sought rarely.

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Comment 5 (5303) by Ek on 2020-06-10 at 14:11:01:

An error of haste. Of course I am referring to George Floyd.

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Comment 6 (5304) by OJB on 2020-06-10 at 14:37:58:

I know previous history and character are rarely used in court cases, but I think they have relevance in real life. At the very least the cop's previous character was deemed relevant by the media, but not Floyd's. And it is that uneven (biased, untruthful) reporting which is my main point here.

Surely previous acts of violence are directly relevant when it comes to judging how a person will act in the present or future (again, in real life, not law). Also, the fact that Floyd was a violent criminal surely makes him less appropriate as a martyr for the BLM cause. In fact, the information not covered by the MSM helps support the idea that the BLM movement is (at least partly) nonsensical.

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