Right Opinion

Truth Should Outweigh Narrative

Erick Erickson · Jun. 14, 2019

Last week, The New York Times ran a story about a study on Google and the press. The story claims that Google made $4.7 billion off the content created by American news outlets.

The story is based on research done by the News Media Alliance. The Times reports, “That $4.7 billion is nearly as much as the $5.1 billion brought in by the United States news industry as a whole from digital advertising last year.” The Times did not tell us that the News Media Alliance is the lobbying arm for the newspaper industry. The Times did not tell us that most media observers reviewed the report and decided it was bunk.

In the words of Matthew Ingram at Columbia Journalism Review: “That study relies on a public comment then-Google executive Marissa Mayer made at a media event in 2008, when she estimated that Google News brought in $100 million in revenue. The NMA report calculates what the same proportion of the company’s revenue would be today, then further inflates this figure based on the fact that news consumption via Google’s main search is 6 times larger than via Google News.” As Ingram summarizes, the report “appears to be based almost entirely on questionable mathematical extrapolation from a comment made by a former Google executive more than a decade ago.”

What the Times danced around is that this lobbying report based on bunk came out in the run-up to a congressional hearing on HR 2054, called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The legislation, if passed, would exempt newspapers from anti-trust laws so they could collaborate together to keep their content off Google, Facebook and even a local blog. The Times advanced sheer propaganda as news because the narrative is more important than the truth.

In this case, the narrative is that social media is killing newspapers. Newspapers are in trouble, but that is different from news being in trouble. In many cases, local television and radio stations have stepped up to cover local government as newspapers declined. Newspapers should be an indispensable part of every community, but some people just do not value them anymore, and that is not Google or Facebook’s fault.

The Times and other news organizations’ advancing narratives instead of truth is increasingly problematic. This past week, multiple press outlets ran sensational stories that President Donald Trump intended to house illegal immigrants in a former Japanese internment camp. Progressive activists seized on the reports as proof that the President was operating concentration camps. The Daily Beast, Fortune, The Hill, USA Today, Time, The Washington Post and Business Insider are just some of the publications that ran with the claim.

There is just one problem. Fort Sill is an American military base in Oklahoma. In 2014, Barack Obama also put immigrant child detainees at Fort Sill, and the very same media outlets never made wild claims about the connection to Japanese internment in World War II.

On Wednesday last week, President Trump said he would welcome foreign intelligence against his political opponents and may not hand it over to the FBI. The media yet again went into overdrive with the outrage. What they all ignored was that Democrats had done the exact same thing. Democrats paid a foreign intelligence operative named Christopher Steele to generate the so-called Steele dossier. That dossier, according to the Mueller investigation, contained some pretty wild claims about President Trump.

Democrats, with help from their friends in the press, screamed that they had handed that over to the FBI. What they all failed to note was that the Democrats actually spent several months dripping out nuggets to friendly members of the press to generate hit jobs on Trump. They only took it to the FBI a month before the election.

The American media has largely embraced a progressive, anti-conservative and explicitly anti-Trump bias. Stories about the President, such as the Fort Sill story, are put in the worst possible framing, and stories about Democrats are routinely downplayed or ignored. The American media used to believe in telling facts and truth. Now, the press narrates stories that are borderline fables to help their partisan friends.

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