During a segment on how media should behave going forward in 2017, Daily Beast editor-in-chief talked about Edward R. Murrow, dealing with a dangerous demagogue, and the weaponization of fake news.
It's not a fiery segment, but it is important. Particularly important for CNN, who has so many Trump surrogates on their payroll who consistently lie and twist the truth.
"But, you know, I think what the Murrow moment means for us is, first of all, there was a time when there was a very powerful populist conservative demagogue in the highest seats of government, and a lot of people were being cowed into silence -- intimidating critics into submission, attacking people directly, questioning their patriotism, questioning their loyalty," Avlon warned. "And a lot of folks wanted to just keep their head down and hope that it went away."
Or worse, put on surrogates who allow it to continue. (Looking at YOU, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox 'News')
But in the Murrow days, it was different. "And Ed Murrow, iconically, captured in "Good Night and Good Luck," but I think talismanically for journalists, stood up and, on his show "See It Now," held -- held McCarthy to account and used his own words, let his own facts be his own ultimate indictment," Avlon continued.
Here we have a problem, because today's news isn't simply allowing facts to indict. Today, we get "panelists" who interpret facts to suit their own agenda, instead of simply putting the facts out there. This model of "news" seriously needs to die.
Moving on to so-called "fake news," Avlon was damning.
Brian Stelter noted that the term has been weaponized.
"[Fake news] is on Facebook, mostly from scam artists and profiteers trying to trick people with hoax stories," he noted. "Well, now, fake news is whatever you disagree with. It's been exploited; it's been redefined."
Avlon issued the indictment of cable news with his answer. "Frankly, it did bridge from partisan news, which, all of a sudden, gave people the ability to self-segregate themselves into separate political realities," he said.
Hammering the point, he continued, "But what fake news did as it snuck in this fall and had an impact on our election, it did something truly insidious. It took our diet of confirmation bias and it accelerated with clickbait. And that poisoned our political conversation with what is frankly propaganda."
I appreciated Avlon putting that out there on a cable news network which was one of the primary purveyors of propaganda. From Jeffrey Lord to Kayleigh McEnany to Katrina Pierson to Joe Scarborough and myriad others, the ridiculous panel discussions pitting one side against the other leaves viewers with no sense of what the facts are.
That has to stop. It just has to. I don't know what it will take, but we cannot continue to have these professional propaganda spinners shift facts into fantasy and expect to have a country left at the end.