If you still watch ABC, CBS, or NBC news every day, statistically you are likely 65 years old or older. You also consume a lot of fake news and intellectually dishonest content every day and probably help circulate it to your Boomer friends on Facebook.
Freaking out seniors has been the network news’ business model for decades. It’s not a new development in the “Trump era” of infotainment and enhanced realities. 60 Minutes has been publishing unnecessarily dire and often outright fake stories for decades, all in the name of peddling pharmaceuticals to Boomers and their parents during the commercial breaks. They’ve published fake stories about politicians, about wars, about risk in the financial markets. Basically, if a Boomer cares about it, they have a hysterical piece to sell.
But, man, is this behavior out of control these days.
Most journalists do not go “chase” stories anymore. Instead they write articles about whatever dumb stuff they have seen on Twitter. And they have no bullshit detector whatsoever. Their only filters are political. If it is a story that damages their perceived political enemies, then it must be true. So they publish Chinese and Iranian propaganda. They publish doctored pictures. And they seriously love Internet hoaxes.
One of the worst offenders in this area is the New York Times. They will get a story going viral, and it looks serious because it is 30 paragraphs long and cites 5 anonymous sources, who all want to remain anonymous because the story is so consequential, you know. Then they will get called out for publishing stuff that can be objectively debunked, attach a two-sentence correction under the 30th paragraph – so even if you are late to the story, you still have to slug through the whole thing to learn that everything you read is inaccurate, and they know few people ever read articles all the way to the end – and move on. The correction never goes viral, so their audience lives in a perpetual state of untruth. And since a lot of their fake content involves the same subject-matters, the cumulative volume of untrue things their readers believe is off the charts.
I kind of have the impression at this point that their audiences don’t care that what they are reading is fictive, however. I think they are in it for the emotion, not to be informed, balanced, and rational people. This is particularly true for people who have a primal hate for Trump. They want that craving to hate satisfied at any cost, even at the expense of having a moderately functional brain.
It’s like the people who used to buy those newsstand papers about the Loch Ness monster and Bat Boy or who watch Ancient Aliens on the “History” Channel. But with politics instead of Bat Boy. They have the sense that what they are consuming is not true, but they desperately want it to be true. So they keep consuming it.
Anyway, it has been incredible to watch the level of malfeasance in the media during the coronavirus panic. From bullying anyone who dared to challenge bad models to publishing pieces fawning over the Chinese Communist Party to all the various Internet hoaxes they have fallen for. Their elderly audiences have been taking all this stuff in, which probably goes a long way to explaining the phenomenon of hoarding groceries.
Among Internet hoaxes, first the news networks shared videos of ICU units in Italy and claimed they were in New York City. I mean, I know there are a lot of Italians in New York, but maybe directions in hospitals aren’t written in Italian?
Then there is this, probably the worst. This fraudulent video of an “ICU nurse” has been viewed over 8 million times, thanks to being amplified by network news outlets.
“America is not prepared, and nurses are not being protected,” she violently sobs in the video. “I quit my job today. I went into work and I was assigned to a COVID patient on an ICU unit that has been converted to a designated COVID unit. None of the nurses are wearing masks.”
Had the news outlets spent 30 seconds on Google and perused her public social media pages (hoaxers always have public pages, because they are in it for the attention, after all), they would have learned that she is not a nurse at all, let alone in an ICU in a coronavirus hotspot. She is a deeply mentally ill woman who talks about her mental illness all the time and how she was removed from her position at a hospital over a year ago.
Eight million views, and it is still being circulated by CBS news right now.