For the past month the news media keeps reporting on itself because the news media can’t stop creating controversy. At this point in our Internet-driven world, everything from Twitter to YouTube to CNN to Comedy Central to podcasts is considered part of the same blob of news outlets, or at least sites where people get their news. As Forrest Gump would say, “These are very confusing times.” This blob creates opportunities for ignorant provocateurs like New York Times writer Sarah Jeong and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. With YouTube, Twitter and Facebook shutting down Alex Jones’ Infowars because of inappropriate discourse, conservatives are asking: Why isn’t Jeong being treated as a villain too? The argument is that Jeong is “trolling” her enemies, whereas Jones is just a hateful man. While Jones is a nut, why isn’t Jeong considered just as bad and treated equally?
Many of these social media controversies are wrapped into some First Amendment argument, and because people are calling for metaphorical heads on sticks or because social media platforms are removing conservative people or pages, each side feels like a victim, and the American people are resisting the media in general. Recently, an Ipsos poll conducted Aug. 3-6 found, “The number of Americans with some or a great deal of trust in the press has dropped 30 percentage points since the late 1970s.”
Interestingly, 85 percent of Americans agree, “Freedom of the press is essential for American democracy.” Additionally, 68 percent believe that “Reporters should be protected from pressure from government or big-business interests.” This goes across both sides of the political aisle. As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli reputedly said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” I don’t believe that people believe this, because people claim they want a free press, but what they mean is, only if their viewpoints are untampered-with by their favorite press personalities.
On a scary note, 26 percent say they agree, “The president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” with 43 percent of Republicans agreeing; and 72 percent of Americans think, “It should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information.” So people want their own media sources free but the others restricted.
Since most Americans live in an ideological bubble, they seem to think that the enemy is the other side. But if Trump shuts down news outlets or social media platforms take that initiative, today it’s the crazies and tomorrow it’s the rest. For example, every major social media platform recently removed content from Alex Jones/Infowars because it had violated the site’s policies.
“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” Apple said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. While I’m no Jones fan, how does Apple continue to sell NWA’s song “F—k the Police” on iTunes? That’s pretty hateful.
YouTube wasn’t much better: “When users violate … policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts,” said a representative for YouTube. Yet there are videos that many can consider anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, etc., on YouTube. Why are they still up?
In fact, right now Google and YouTube are being sued by Dennis Prager’s Prager University for restricting its G-rated conservative-0leaning content.
Then there is Twitter. The New York Times writer Jeong has tweeted that “Trump is Hitler,” “Trump=Hitler,” “Trump is basically Hitler,” and “Was Hitler as rapey as Donald Trump?” Plus, she has written a slew of anti-white tweets about how being white is inferior and “boring.”
National Review’s Reihan Salam believes Jeong is just “trolling” white people: “[Trolling is] the most transgressive thing you can get away with saying without actually getting called out for it [. . .] All of us in this space get it, and we have nothing but disdain for those who do not. And some may well be intended as a defiant retort to bigotry.”
So Jeong is “trolling” but Jones’ ridiculous claims are “hate speech”? Conservatives have argued for decades that there is a liberal bias, and now the line has blurred even more among solid reporting, editorial journalism and now the excused “liberal trolling.”