Say it's not true – can't – not with a straight face
Set-up for this post, selective parts to fit here – check the link – very good read.
On April 2, Mike Cernovich, a self-described member of the “Alt-right,” claimed in a post on Medium that the “White House Counsel’s office identified Susan Rice, former Obama NSC chief adviser, as the person responsible for the unmasking” of Trump officials caught in surveillance of foreign officials after examining Rice’s document log requests.”
The claim then spread among fringe outlets such as The Gateway Pundit – which said the unmasking “was purely for political purposes” – and Infowars (Alex Jones conspiracy nutcase show) and then spread via posts on 4Chan and Reddit.
As the claim started getting pickup on Twitter, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, promoted Cernovich with a tweet linking to the main page of his Medium blog. Then the next day, Donald Trump. Jr praised Cernovich for “breaking the #SusanRice story”).
This sort of right-wing criticism of mainstream media’s coverage will likely ramp up, thus possibly spurring some mainstream outlets to defend their coverage or possibly tweak some of their framing under pressure.
This is the new media ecosystem in the Trump era.
No longer are these false claims all originating in traditional right-wing media before mainstream outlets give in to pressure to cover them. Now they can start from these fringe pro-Trump propaganda outlets, with right-wing media picking them up. Meanwhile, members of the “Alt-right” continue to gain more prominence and acceptance in traditional conservative and conservative media circles.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh, while hyping the Rice story, (1) bragged that mainstream media outlets are “not the arbiters anymore,” (2) then whitewashed the original source of the story, Cernovich, calling him simply a “pro-Trump blogger,” and (3) then concluded that CBS 60 Minutes “tried to destroy Cernovich” – all the while he criticized mainstream outlets for dismissing the story because it was pushed by right-wing media.
This is not the first example of misinformation following such a trajectory from practically a simple forum or Talk Radio post or statement, or by some tweeter or blogger. Then kapow, it takes off ending with Fox and major Talk Shows like Limbaugh.
For example, in March, after a federal judge in Hawaii placed a hold on Trump’s revised Muslim ban, fringe “Alt-right” outlets such as Infowars and Gateway Pundit pushed a conspiracy theory that appeared to have started on Reddit alleging that Obama conspired with the judge for that decision.
That claim (w/o any proof, evidence, or facts) then spread among fake news purveyors, then pushed by Donald Trump Jr. just before it broke into more traditional conservative media figures and outlets like Hannity and the Independent Journal Review, et al.
Later that same month, in order to back up Trump’s false claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, Infowars then dubiously claimed it had NSA documents that provided the proof. The claim in turn made its way around other “Alt-right” outlets and fake news purveyors – then winding up being pushed at the top of the Drudge Report.
This is the real danger that the new media environment presents.
The fringe is no longer simply siloed. It has actively been raised into the mainstream by pro-Trump forces both known and unknown. It has been repeatedly validated by both mainstream reporters and especially an administration that has no hesitation about lying to the world.
It is crucial that mainstream media outlets understand this new environment and the kind of claims and conspiracy theories it puts forth. It is one thing to share the mainstream with extremist cranks, propagandists, liars, or worse, but it's another thing to succumb and do their pro-Trump misinforming for them by falling into their trap as it were thus adding to their fake credibility passing as valuable and valid news that we all seek and need.
So, are the media mainstreamers on board with their critical role and duty in all this? One seriously wonders.