The least trusted name in news just proved its title again.
A CNN reporter whose job is “covering disinformation, politics and technology” has kicked off a social media ruckus by showing just how bad much of the mainstream media is at covering any of those topics with a “public meltdown” over the conservative satirical website The Babylon Bee.
Reporter Donnie O’Sullivan claims to be concerned that a hilarious Babylon Bee “report” about Democrats mourning the death of Iranian terror mastermind Qassem Soleimani is being taken seriously by too many Americans — or maybe more seriously than the dribble CNN has been known to pass off as news.
To put this in perspective, this is the same number of engagements the top NY Times and CNN stories on Facebook had over the past week.
A lot of people sharing this “satirical” story on Facebook don’t know it is satire. https://t.co/HnDjuqw2si
— Donie O’Sullivan (@donie) January 5, 2020
O’Sullivan was retweeting a post from a Twitter user who griped that the Babylon Bee post had been shared more than 500,000 times and claimed that family members had said “Republican FB friends are circulating it like it’s legit.”
“To put this in perspective, this is the same number of engagements the top NY Times and CNN stories on Facebook had over the past week,” O’Sullivan wrote.
There are two obvious points to make here:
The first is that, if many Americans truly don’t realize a report claiming Democrats are publicly grieving a strike that killed one of the country’s most vicious enemies is a joke, it’s because the Democrats have spent years convincing the country that it’s entirely possible.
(The Bee’s headline should have been a giveaway: “Democrats Call For Flags To Be Flown At Half-Mast To Grieve Death Of Soleimani.” But Democrats have been so insane for three years now that it almost seems credible — that’s what makes it such excellent satire.)
The second is that O’Sullivan sounds worried that something as obviously humorous as The Babylon Bee Post is rivaling mainstream media outlets in popularity. That says a lot more about the lack of credibility in coverage from The New York Times and CNN than it does about the credulity of the American public.
Basically, after decades of feeding a liberal spin to viewers and readers, the mainstream media has kicked into overdrive during the Trump years, going from liberal bias to outright propaganda aimed at tarnishing President Donald Trump and everything connected with his administration.
The American people – a perceptive bunch when they’re paying attention – should be forgiven for noticing that so little of what is presented to them as news is actually true. (The “Russia collusion” fiasco is one that won’t be soon forgotten.)
There’s another point, too – that for the liberal establishment, “satire” is only an issue when it comes from the right.
CNN and other mainstream media outlets have no problem with satirical stories that come from the left wing of American politics. When was the last time any reporter claimed that the satirical website The Onion posed a threat to American democracy because of its clearly outrageous “reports”? Could the fact that The Onion tends to mock Republicans and conservatives have anything to do with that?
Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford made that point clear in a Twitter thread responding to O’Sullivan’s bellyaching.
“A CNN reporter is taking shots at the Bee because our articles get shared a lot and some people think they’re real (which will always happen with satire). After thinking “how adorable,” I thought, “well surely this guy has chirped at the Onion for the same thing..,”’ Ford wrote.
A CNN reporter is taking shots at the Bee because our articles get shared a lot and some people think they’re real (which will always happen with satire).
After thinking “how adorable,” I thought, “well surely this guy has chirped at the Onion for the same thing…” 1/3 https://t.co/m047iwflAk
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) January 6, 2020
Lo, and behold…
“As it turns out, Mr. O’Sullivan HAS tweeted about the Onion. But it looks like he’s quite the fan!”
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) January 6, 2020
So, to a CNN reporter who covers “disinformation, politics and technology,” alleged disinformation is apparently only a problem when it comes to conservatives using technology to comment on politics.
O’Sullivan’s baseless complaints drew plenty of contemptuous comments on Twitter from other users, too.
From the sarcastic:
I can’t believe this thread isn’t satire. https://t.co/CX3bcJcg9T
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) January 6, 2020
To the serious:
why is a CNN reporter having a public meltdown over a satire site
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) January 6, 2020
You guys should definitely keep focusing your energy on Babylon Bee and people sharing a joke article is in no way a reflection of the garbage state of your profession. https://t.co/FuzhjfcpPg
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) January 6, 2020
This is a really bad look for reporters. And notice they never express this concern regarding The Onion.
It’s an obvious and labeled satire site. A lot of people liking and sharing it doesn’t make it bad. https://t.co/ONZzccqg2h
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) January 6, 2020
But this one summed it up:
Social media is great until conservatives show even a fleeting hint of competence at it, at which point it becomes Scary Thing To Be Regulated
Dovetails nicely with the two gatekeeping pieces in the NYT over the weekend
— Allan (@AllanRicharz) January 6, 2020
That’s about what it amounts to.
Liberals love mass communication as long as they can control it – Hollywood, late-night comedians, the mainstream “news” media.
But when conservatives hit back — whether in traditional formats like Fox News or on social media with conservative news sites or satirical sites like The Babylon Bee — they start getting nervous and complaining publicly that the American people aren’t smart enough to distill the truth from the lies.
It’s been an ongoing theme since Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, it’s why the liberal fact-checking site Snopes has spent an embarrassing amount of time “fact-checking” obviously satirical posts on The Babylon Bee.
And it’s not going away anytime soon.
But the latest uproar just shows again why CNN really is the least trusted name in news.
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