Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Case Study On The Fight Between Alt Right Bullcrap And The Main Stream Media

Um a few people DID misbehave in Germany on New Years Eve
but it wasn't exactly an Islamic fundamentalist insurgency
at Breitbart suggests in this article
Having safely installed their hero Donald Trump as President and secured their man, Steve Bannon as their chief of staff, Breitbart News seems like it has now turned its attention to the upcoming German elections.  

Although they're probably not coordinating with Breitbart, I'm sure Russia is delighted by the wacko right wing "news" site's help.

The latest bit of drama involves a Breitbart "news" article that "informs" us that a mob of Islamic extremists, numbering around 1,000 or so and yelling "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) set a church on fire in the city of Dortmund.

The Breitbart headline read, "Revealed: 1,000 man mob attack police, set Germany's oldest church alight on New Year's Eve."  The article went on to say the mob was massing around al Qaeda and Islamic flags

Dortmund Police said the reality was a whole lot tamer than what Breitbart envisioned. To me, it's not even news.

Yep, lots of people were out celebrating New Year's Eve in Dortmund. Some of them might have been Muslim.  Some people in the crowd definitely took things too far, but this was also not anything remotely resembling an Islamic extremist insurgency in Germany.

Police said an  average number of  people were arrested for misbehaving on New Year's Eve, the Guardian reports

There's no evidence the crowd was actually celebrating Islamic extremists  in Dortmund. A stray spark from fireworks did cause  a small fire in some netting in construction scaffolding at the church.

The minor blaze was quickly put out. The church, which is not the oldest in Germany, was undamaged, says the Guardian.


My conspiratorial mind thinks Breitbart wanted to help stir up right-wind passions in Germany to help continue the authoritarian march across the globe let by Putin.

I couldn't find the church article on Breitbart, but their front page feature has them apoplectic over a New York Times article this past Sunday that suggested ways to thwart fake news sites.

Third parties and bots often place advertising in web sites, and the business or entity that's being advetised is often unaware of which web sites its on.

This is why ads seem to "follow" you from site to site. Algorthms latch on to your interests, and those ads that target you follow you. Even if you go to websites the advertiser doesn't like.

Those advertisers can, of course, ask to be removed from those sites, and that's what the New York times highlighted.

The New York Times article highlighted a Twitter group called Sleeping Giants that alerts businesses and non-profits that they're being advertised on sites that promote lies, white supremacists or bullying that can inspire attacks on Muslims, women, gays, you name it.

Sleeping Giants has targeted Breitbart in particular lately because "they're the biggest fish," a founder of Sleeping Giants told the New York Times.

Just today, Sleeping Giants crowed that they got the travel booking website Trevago from advertisting at Breitbart.

Of course today, Breitbart countered that it's the New York Times that's the purveryor of fake news.

Breitbart said the New York Times is being hypocritcial because they say they're for press freedom and at the same time they are trying to squelch the journalism of Breitbart.

Though I question whether Breitbart is journalistm, but whatever.

I guess everybody has their own reality now, so nothing is truly fact based. They'll believe whatever they want to believe.

For its part, Breitbart is doubling down on its "reporting" from  Germany (We can't disappoint our rabid readers with a retraction, can we!)

If you read Breitbart's doubling down article in reaction to the take down by main stream media, notice the um, double speak.

The problem is Breitbart is a master at using certain words that incite hate. The Guardian might refer to the people in the city square in Germany as New Year's Eve crowd. Breitbart calls them a "mob."

Breitbart plays with definitions. German police said most of the people in the square were "peaceful" Breitbart says they were not because some were lauching fireworks, and others were "egging" them on.

The video that even Breitbart posts to "prove' their point shows, yes, people illegally launching fireworks, while most in the crowd stand and gawk at the spectacle, at an outdoor party that's gone out of control. To me, gawking is peaceful enough.

Breitbart was also forced to backtrack on the Allahu Akbar shouts. They admit in the follow up that that phrase is about as common as when Christians say "Amen."

As Matt Gertz in Media Matters points out, Breitbart in its original reporting strung three separate facts together to create a false nightmare scenario.

1. There were about 1,000 people in the square.
2. A few of them shouting "Allah Akbar"
3. One person got careless with fireworks, starting a small blaze.

These three facts became this in Breitbart world: "A mob of more than, 1,000 men chanted "Allah Akbar launched fireworks at police and set fire to a historic church."

Bit of a difference, eh?

Breitbart claims its facts were accurate, but Media Matters points out the obvious: You can't string together facts  to create new "facts."

As Gertz wrote: "The relationship that Breitbart claimed existed between those facts is also relevant in terms of whether the story is accurate."

Everybody always accuses their opponent of twisting the facts. Breitbart takes it to a new art form.

I guess it's a war between the misinformation campaign by the likes of Breitbart and the people who want to squelch the misinformation by hitting where it hurts: The revenue stream.

It's a bare knuckle fight that I see going on for a long time.

And it's one of those fights that will make or break the Trump administration, and perhaps American and democracy itself.

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