NBC Chicago and Richard Ray can’t honestly report on a Trump harassment hoax


The media has been awful for quite some time.  With the negative treatment of Donald Trump and his supporters after the election, people are beginning to see just how bad it truly is.  Ironically, there has been a call to do something about the “fake news” that makes its rounds through social media.  Don’t be fooled by the term “fake news.”  Whether or not the information is true is not of actual importance.  How they determine if a source is real or fake is whether it’s part of the mainstream.

In other words, in their world, there is fake news and there is corporate news.

The corporate news cannot help but send everything they touch through the spin cycle.  Since the election of Donald Trump, they have been more than happy to run any story they can about some sort of pro-Trump hate crimes.  Unfortunately for them, just about every one of these stories ends up being a hoax.

Fool me once, shame on me.

So what does this say about the media who keep “accidentally” peddling false stories?

Yes, they will often follow these stories with updates giving the new information that the victim made up the attack.  But the damage is already done.  The corrections will only reach a fraction of the people who have been misled.

That is not even enough for them anymore.  Even the stories published about hoaxes are spun and misleading.  Take NBC Chicago’s story by Richard Ray called “Hateful ‘Trump’ Notes Allegedly Aimed at Student Were Fabricated, University Says.”

This story, originally published on November 15, 2016, is about a woman at North Park University who received harassing notes and emails from Trump supporters.  It late came out that (surprise!) she made the whole thing up.  So how did Ray pen his story about this hoax?

Here is his opening sentence:

Hateful notes and emails allegedly sent to a North Park University student were “fabricated,” the school’s president said Tuesday in a statement, and the woman who claimed they were aimed toward her is no longer enrolled at the school.

Okay, that’s fine.  But go ahead and read the rest of his story.  What does it seem like the story is about?  If you removed that first sentence, any reasonable person would say that the story was about a real case of harassment!  It is written so that it is ambiguous as to whether this was a hoax or not (that ambiguity even includes the title of his piece).  He saves the worst for the end:

The Southern Poverty Law Center said that there were 701 hateful incidents of harassment reported around the country in the week since the presidential election, though not all reports were verified. About 65 percent of the incidents were from the first three days following the election, and there has been a steady drop-off since, the hate-tracking group said.

Trump has called for people to stop such displays.

I don’t doubt the factualness of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s statistics.  That throwaway line of “though not all reports were verified” is what is hugely important though.  As it was said previously, most of these “hateful incidents,” or at least the incidents getting the most news attention, have wound up being hoaxes.

Why do Ray and the rest of the media report like this?  And why would he add that final line about Trump asking people to stop when there isn’t much for people to stop doing?  It’s because they want people to believe that the isolated incident is the hoax and that harassment is the norm, this despite the fact that the opposite is true.

By the way, there is no mention of the hoax or a link to the correction in the first story published by NBC Chicago.

Make the media earn your trust.  There are honest journalists out there who take their jobs and their integrity seriously.  Sadly, that probably cannot be said for most in the media, but people seem to be catching on.  Let’s watch them grasp for straws as they sink into oblivion.

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Julia Saunders

“Make the media earn your trust” <- good point