Media Normalization

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Examples of Normalization

Some mainstream media organizations are now seeking pro-Trump columnists[1], recentering the conservative/liberal divide to include Trump in the window of acceptability.

Rhetoric in the Media

When asked in a January 25 interview to explain her choice not to use the word “lie” in broadcasts about Trump, NPR's Mary Louise Kelly cites the Oxford English Dictionary:

"A false statement made with intent to deceive," says Kelly. "Intent being the key word there. Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump's head, I can't tell you what his intent was. I can tell you what he said and how that squares, or doesn't, with facts.”[2]

NPR's senior vice president for news Michael Oreskes backed the decision not to use the word "lie,” stating:

"Our job as journalists is to report, to find facts, and establish their authenticity and share them with everybody," says Oreskes. "It's really important that people understand that these aren't our opinions. ... These are things we've established through our journalism, through our reporting …"[3]

Uses of Fake News

“Alternative Facts” as a tactic to test loyalty

Why Trump's Staff Is Lying by Tyler Cowen

By requiring subordinates to speak untruths, a leader can undercut their independent standing, including their standing with the public, with the media and with other members of the administration. That makes those individuals grow more dependent on the leader and less likely to mount independent rebellions against the structure of command. Promoting such chains of lies is a classic tactic when a leader distrusts his subordinates and expects to continue to distrust them in the future. Another reason for promoting lying is what economists sometimes call loyalty filters. If you want to ascertain if someone is truly loyal to you, ask them to do something outrageous or stupid. If they balk, then you know right away they aren’t fully with you. That too is a sign of incipient mistrust within the ruling clique, and it is part of the same worldview that leads Trump to rely so heavily on family members.
Trump specializes in lower-status lies, typically more of the bald-faced sort, namely stating “x” when obviously “not x” is the case. They are proclamations of power, and signal that the opinions of mainstream media and political opponents will be disregarded. The lie needs to be understood as more than just the lie. For one thing, a lot of Americans, especially many Trump supporters, are more comfortable with that style than with the “fancier” lies they believe they are hearing from the establishment. ... The Trump administration is itself sending loyalty signals to its supporters by burning its bridges with other groups.

Media Literacy

See also Media Literacy in Tools of Resistance.

How to Spot Fake News

Tools to Combat Fake News