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April 24, 2014

Ride-Along News and the Drive-By Media

Here's the insidious thing about the "Girls Make Less in Allowance Than Boys, #WarOnWomen" story and others like it.

When the media has decided something is Big News, they do a series of related (or barely-related) stories about it. The Media has obviously decided that the #WarOnWomen #FightPayInequality hashtags are Big News (because Obama told them they were).

I'll call these sorts of stories "Ride-Along News." These stories would not be reported, except that they are riding along with a bigger story.

In most cases they're either not stories at all, or they are microstories.

The purpose of these Ride-Along Stories is simply to keep the Big Story, vaguely, in the news, by frequently mentioning the basic theme of it in other contexts. You can't report on the #WarOnWomen #FightPayInequality hashtags when there's no new news; these sorts of Ride-Along micro-stories allow the media to indulge its biases and continue hitting the same themes and pushing the same political line without the effort of actually doing any new reporting on the actual story itself.

And of course which stories get selected for this Ride-Along coverage is shot through with ideological bias and, increasingly, simple partisan bias. The Democrats have decided the #WarOnWomen is one of the few cards they can play this election cycle; the media eagerly snaps to attention, understanding that Orders Have Been Given, and begins looking around for micro-stories to reinforce and propagate the Democrats' fall campaign themes.

Obviously, the media could choose to do Ride-Along reportage of stories that the Republicans are pushing. They could report on the continuing grim state of the economy; they could report on the economy as they would were it the responsibility of a Republican president, offering up heartbreaking slice-of-life stories about individual victims of the Great Recession.

Given that Clive Bundy is in the news, they could do a series of reports on federal land management, and how much land is under federal control, and the tensions this creates with locals, and so on.

Given that GM, while under the ownership of the Obama White House, pumped out a series of defective cars and concealed these defects from the public, the media could have done a series of Ride-Along stories about previous "government-private" partnerships -- like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Solyndra -- and reported on how all of those worked out for the taxpaying citizen.

But they don't, of course.

The media's idea of "neutrality" is to cover both parties' stated lines, briefly (though with Democrats' lines getting the majority of coverage).

And then they fill up the news with Ride-Along stories reinforcing the Democrats' favored campaign themes, with no coverage at all -- no oxygen, no human interest, no Weird and Wacky stories -- for Republican themes.

Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales will swear on a stack of Bibles that it Just So Happens that this #WarOnGirlsAllowances just happened to become news at the same moment the president was pushing his #WarOnWomensPay campaign theme.

Of course, that's a lie. They chose the story -- a micro-story which isn't even a story; it's a poll by someone we never heard of before ("Junior Achievement"?), typed up by the leftwing Think Progress blog -- because it reinforces their political agenda.

Natalie Morales confesses exactly that in the piece linked below: "So basically, girls are doing more for less. This sounds kind of familiar right?""

Note if they were just casting about for any story on #WarOnWomen, whether it reinforced Democrat campaign themes or undermined them, they could have discussed that much-more rigorous and serious news that even in Pay-Equity-Crazy Sweden, women still work fewer hours, and still work more frequently in part-time jobs, and still favor the occupations imposed on women by the Oppressive Male Patriarchy, the so-called "caring" professions.

That's also an important data point in this alleged American #WarOnWomen, no? That's almost as important on this single poll by "Junior Achievement" on children's allowances, no?

But of course they didn't do that. No, they chose the silly, Buzzfeed-y non-story that not only kept the #WarOnWomen meme in the public consciousness, but also furthered the Democrats' preferred political line on the #WarOnWomen.

That story didn't agree with their Democratic worldview. (Not liberal ideologically, mind you, but straight-up partisan Democratic.)

I guess it's not true that the media will never do Ride Along stories on Republican attack lines. If a Republican attack line becomes powerful, they will of course begin doing Ride-Along stories to undermine it, check it, and refute it.

I trust everyone remembers the gangbusters business the media did in the "Everyone Lies, At Least Sometimes" stories when it became obvious that Bill Clinton had perjured himself under oath and then directly wagged his finger at the American public.

I ask again rhetorically: For how much longer does the childish media insist on maintaining this risible fiction that they are not Democratic propagandists?

And how can it be that an institution allegedly concerned with "reporting the truth" places such a critical importance on an official corporate position requiring lying about their political agenda?


From the Junior Achievement Website:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Junior Achievement USA from February 12-24, 2014 among 1,234 youths ages 8-18. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

So it's not really a poll.

Gee, I guess Think Progress just forgot to report that, and NBC forgot to look into it.

But this story achieved its purpose: It got the #WarOnWomen story into the mainstream media another day.

It got into the mindspace of a few thousand low-information voters. This factoid will persist in their minds and influence their voting behavior.

That was Think Progress' goal, and that was NBC's goal.

Mission Accomplished.

thanks to @tsrblke.

Update: Commenters are telling me that Junior Achievement is an organization that sends corporate higher-ups to classrooms to, I guess, sell them on the idea of going into business, or excelling in whatever field they choose.

They say it's not partisan at all.

That may be true. And maybe they just did this non-poll as a fun-fact sort of thing.

But the Left has its paid professional meme generators at Think Progress, and they of course promoted the poll, and then NBC -- with apparently no fact-checking whatsoever -- put the Ride-Along News-Like Substitute on the airwaves a single day later.

The transmission from hard-left-wing/paid professional partisan propaganda outfit to the "mainstream" NBC took exactly 24 hours.

As Natalie Morales might say: "That sounds kind of familiar, right?"


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posted by Ace at 01:23 PM

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