Kingdom of Fear: Getting it Right (Part 1)
We have talked this week about the politics of fear and how it can be used to keep people scared and that there are things out to really be afraid of. In fact, taken all at once, it might seem as if it’s basically hopeless and we should collectively lock ourselves in our basements and start evolving into the Morlocks. But it’s not. In fact the key to figuring out what’s worth being afraid of what isn’t is as simple as being able to determine what news is credible.
We start with a report from KCTV7 News which claims that Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has said that her plan for dealing with the crisis at the border is to put migrant children into labor camps. I contacted the Congresswoman’s press office and a spokesman confirmed for me that this story is completely false.
First, the story is ludicrous. While Bachmann has said some intellectually questionable things in the past, someone with her Tea Party bona fides would almost certainly not suggest “labor camps” as a solution to anything. The article closes with a quote from journalist and documentarian Jose Antonio Vargas, although he told me via Twitter that he never said it.
@JoshuaMPatton, no I did NOT provide that quote. and have not spoken to anyone about it. weird.
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) July 25, 2014
Second, let’s take a look at the news outlet. The first red flag is that the name of the site, KCTV7 News. If it sounds like it should be a local station, that’s because KCTV5 is one and they are perhaps hoping readers mistake their site for the local news outlet. Also notice that the article contains links to no credible news sources, specifically audio of the supposed radio show where Bachmann allegedly made these comments. Also, the lack of a byline is the final nail in the BS coffin.
A quick internet search, showing only results from the past week to narrow it down, shows that no other credible media outlet has reported this story. But the swine at KCTV7 are counting on the people who dislike Rep. Bachmann to not bother to double-check this, but merely share it (at press time close to 9000 people have shared this).
But what about the big news organizations? How does one tell when their stories are less than credible?