Modern Day Failures of Journalism
Recently on the stage of America there has been an explosion of claims of false information from the government, health organizations, and social media. Some believe this false information has lead to corruption, the stripping of our rights, and even death. Let us look at a couple examples.
The first example is the COVID-19 vaccine process. Over the past few years many media outlets have reported that COVID-19 vaccines would prevent the spread of the virus and prevent the person from contracting COVID-19. These same media outlets and most government representatives pushed for people to get the vaccines knowing the vaccines have not been tested and run in trials like previous vaccines had. These trials and testing procedures look for vaccine effectiveness and possible long term side effects of the vaccines that could be potentially life threatening to the vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines were rushed through this process in record time. The vaccine for mumps took only 4 years to test and distribute to the public. Most vaccines take approx. 10 years to test and run trials. The first COVID-19 vaccines were put on the market in approx. 1 year. This was extremely fast, and many people doubted its safety and effectiveness. But government officials and the media outlets assured the public that they were safe and affective. Now, a couple years down the road, we know the COVID-19 vaccines do not stop the spread of the virus and they do not prevent a vaccinated person from contracting the virus. Further, there are studies showing potential long term deadly side effects of some of the vaccines. Remember, under normal vaccine testing and trial timelines, the COVID-19 vaccines would probably be only halfway through the process to market.
The panic over the COVID-19 virus resulted in a record turnaround for vaccine approval and use but also led to mandated physical lockdowns around the world, required masking, forced vaccinations, and some would argue unprecedented violations of individual rights. And all of this was based on false information or, at the least, misleading information.
Another example is the issue regarding the “Hunter Biden Laptop” (HBL). The HBL has been in the possession of the FBI since approx. 2019. When it was first mentioned in the media it was widely dismissed as Russian propaganda. Just recently, within the last year, the HBL has been looked at closer by various news organizations and has been confirmed as authentic. Many of the files on the hard drive describe or show crimes of various degrees being committed and seem to indicate there is widespread trading of information to foreign powers in return for large payments to the Biden Family. There is reason to believe, due to released communications between branches of the government and certain social media sites, that suppression of the truth of the HBL was enacted via social media sites and some media outlets. There are several possible reasons why this suppression was requested by our government, but it is not the point of this article to dwell on those reasons at this time.
The rush to suppress the information on HBL resulted in government involvement in violating the 1st Amendment, delay of prosecution of possible wrongdoing, potential trading of national secrets for profit, and indications of a two-tiered justice system where some people can get away with all sorts of crimes with no risk of being prosecuted.
Both examples have indications that journalists working for the media entities did not report what the facts were or even ask questions regarding the validity of the initial claims. The journalists only reported, it seems, what law enforcement and certain government agencies told them to report. Lets look at what journalism means and what a journalist does. There are many, many different definitions of journalism but basically it means gathering, producing and distributing news, events, facts, and ideas. So a journalist is the person or people that gather, produce, and distribute news, events, facts, and ideas. Further, what is considered award worthy journalism; what criteria describes good journalism? A review of many journalism award guidelines fleshes out the following criteria used to judge most journalism: accuracy, completeness, fairness, objectivity, honesty, respect of audience, code of ethics adherence resources used, and the list goes on.
My Take and Opinion
In my opinion, now this is just my opinion, most of these criteria were not met regarding media reports on the two examples above in the last few years. Over the last year many of the reports on the above examples from previous years were shown to be false or highly inaccurate. How could this be; how could the journalists produce such inaccurate articles? I think the journalists were placed under immense pressure by governmental agencies and the media owners to push certain agendas either to hide or delay the truth in order to convince their listeners of a particular agenda. Why would they want to push a particular agenda? Well, by pushing a certain direction and swaying their audience to believe certain things, the audience become voters and supporters for passing and allowing the agenda to occur. A little investigation into the details usually uncovers who the benefactors (corporations, government officials, government agencies, etc.) of a particular agenda are. When a journalist pushes a particular agenda, it can greatly aid in the furthering of that agenda with the side effects of benefiting those individuals financially and politically invested in the agenda. So, in my opinion, the criteria for good journalism was not met because either the journalists were just repeating what they were told and did not do their job or they knowingly lied and were a willing participant in furthering an agenda. Either way, the journalists did not perform their duties, caused much damage due to false reporting, and are partly responsible for the results of the false messaging mentioned above in both examples.
Some people might assume that the journalists just made mistakes or they got sloppy. I disagree, one or two examples could be explained by this but not so many one right after another. Here is a list of other well-known examples of false information by journalists:
- The Russian Steele Dossier stated as proof of Donald Trump’s corruption when it was later proven to be unverified, unverifiable, and that Hillary Clinton paid for its creation.
- A young man named Nick Sandman was reported as a racist and behaving in that manner towards a Native American man. After further investigations it was discovered that, in fact, no such action occurred.
- That masks will stop the spread of COVID-19. There are many studies that contradict this belief, but it was pushed by many journalists as fact.
- The claim that the COVID-19 virus jumped from animals to humans. This was reported as fact and in reality it is now accepted that the virus more likely came from a lab leak in China.
- The whipping of migrants crossing the border by US border agents. This was reported as fact and was later found to be false.
- Media reporting on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Media outlets reported that he was a white supremacist and many other accusations which was all proven to be false.
Results of Reporting False Information
So now let us think about the damage that is done when journalists continually report false information. Their readers drastically lose trust in the journalists and the media outlets they represent. We have seen this in recent drops in ratings of several media outlets and every day there seems to be a new lawsuit against a media outlet regarding false information it reported. Reporting of false facts can lead their audience to jump to conclusions causing all kinds of harassment and even investigations by law enforcement under false pretenses. Many of the people involved in false reports have been the subject of death threats to themselves and their families. Government officials have even gone so far as to attempt and succeeded in passing laws, bans, and other ordinances restricting people’s freedoms. Taking this further, the government during the COVID-19 pandemic made recommendations to the public, passed laws, and fired government workers for not agreeing to take the questionable vaccines. Now, with studies discovering potential side effects of the vaccines, the threat of loss of life is a very real concern.
Orson Welles stated after his 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds”, “[I]n fact, we weren’t as innocent as we meant to be when we did the Martian broadcast. We were fed up with the way in which everything that came over this new magic box, the radio, was being swallowed. . . so in a way, our broadcast was an assault on the credibility of that machine. We wanted people to understand that they shouldn’t take any opinion pre-digested, and they shouldn’t swallow everything that came through the tap, whether it was radio or not.” Due to this broadcast, there were small towns that reached levels of panic that have never been seen before or after.
Be the Bearer of Truth
So, as you can see, reporting unfounded information as fact and in most cases reporting false information as fact has caused a huge negative impact on our ways of life here in America. What does this have to do with private investigations? Well, as a private investigator I see many of my responsibilities like that of a journalist. When we are hired by a client, we are expected to investigate very thoroughly and objectively. Our clients want the truth, not our best guess, not just a repeat of what someone else may have said, and not reporting what we found filled with our own assumptions, opinions, and agendas. Private investigators are to report the facts, the truth. If we do not do our jobs and report information that is not accurate, we can cost our client’s money, split their families, they could go to jail, or even worse. Private investigators have a massive responsibility to confirm our information to the best of our abilities for the sake of our clients. The examples of poor journalism above indicate the amount of damage false information can have on America. As private investigators, who claim to adhere to some of the same criteria as journalists, we need to learn from these mistakes and mitigate the damage to our clients by reporting our findings as accurately as possible.