News Killed Truth, Not the Internet (A response to Bill Maher)

In the most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, the host had a rather interesting critique about society where he said that the truth is dead and that it was the Internet that killed it.  This is a perspective I have heard a lot from people in his age demographic, but I have to respectfully disagree.  Let’s look at Maher’s video, and then we’ll have a discourse about why he is dead wrong once he’s done.  I actually respect Maher’s opinion, but I can’t help but think that he’s being more than a little blind on this.

When he talks about all the insane ways that truth dies on the Internet, I am not about to disagree.  It’s true.  Buzzfeed’s entire existence is predicated on the notion that “truth” is a commodity that can be bought and sold.  We live in the age of native advertising, where “news” outlets buy stories from companies that want to hock their shit.  Again, look no further than Buzzfeed.  And any outlet with an ideological bias can get people clicking.  The Young Turks ditched any semblance of trying to fairly report and now quite blatantly kowtows to the extreme-left.  The Drudge Report is the same, but in the opposite direction.  Truth is a commodity to be bought and sold, but here’s the thing about that – this was going on LONG before the days of the Internet.

Let’s take you back to the year 1997.  A woman named Diana, royalty in the UK, was killed in a car wreck in Paris.  There honestly wasn’t a lot to say about that story, was there?  Sure, there was some speculation about whether or not the paparazzi was involved.  It was later discovered that the driver of Diana’s car had been intoxicated, while on anti-depressants.  This man should not have been behind the wheel, but he was.  And she paid the ultimate price for that.  A grim story, but the fact aren’t especially interesting..  Now, enter the cable news outlets.  After all, it’s hard for people to actually watch 24 hours worth of news.  There just isn’t that much going on in the world.  Not to mention, when you have an all-day news outlet, having to talk about news all day, it’s going to run out of things to talk about.  That’s understandable.  So how do you fill up all that time?  Easy – instead of selling facts, you sell a narrative.

This goes back to the dawn of cable news.  After they realized that they couldn’t talk about nothing but news all day, it turned into creating news for us to take in.  From Princess Di and all the stories about how wonderful she was and how tragic it is, to the shooting at Columbine, where microphones were shoved in the faces of traumatized teenagers.  Time after time, cable news was there to milk the tears of the victims.  Why?  Ratings.  Pure and simple.  People watch that shit.  People watch the hell out of it.  Instead of the news being about facts and reporting, it is instead about making a narrative.  Reporting facts is boring.  Let me tell you why.

Here’s some truth for you –

On April 20th, two boys entered Columbine High School.  They were heavily armed and opened fire on the students and teachers.  A total of 12 students and teachers were killed, with 21 additional people being injured.  This attack was highly planned, with explosives to be set off to divert firefighters and kill even more victims.  The two shooters committed suicide after a brief shootout with the police.

See how easy that was?  There are the facts.  I didn’t create a narrative.  I didn’t feel the need to talk about the shooters.  I reported the facts and in no way made anything about some kind of bias.  But that isn’t what happened, is it?

No, the truth became just a commodity to be traded away by the cable news outlets, who had to make very sure that they got every talking head to go after everyone they possibly could, didn’t they?  Video games, bad parenting, and Marilyn Manson sure were demonized, weren’t they?  The news stopped reporting facts.  Instead, they reported emotions.  Then, when that was found to be profitable, they started pushing emotions, so the narrative could look even better.  This is what the news became.  The force that is supposed to  be the vanguard of democracy became pushers for those who wanted to sell a narrative.  And it made a fuck-ton of money.  Now it gets a fuck-ton of clicks.

You know who the people are who started this trend?  Your generation, Bill.  The Baby Boomers.  Your sad, entitled fucking generation that wants to blame my generation for your problems.  Fuck you!  I am so tired of listening to people’s my parent’s age talk about how stuck up and entitled we are, when the average person my age has it infinitely worse than you did when you were in my position.  Under the tutelage of Reagan, and later on Clinton, massive deregulation happened.  See the end result of that?  Our economy has stagnated, and all this talk about the Recession being over sure hasn’t made the Job Fairy coming calling for the kids out of college, has it?

If you want to know who killed truth, I want you and everyone in your age group to look in the mirror.  After all, if you get down to it, the Internet began as a program used by DARPA.  So it truly was your generation that killed truth.  No matter what way you slice it.  I guess I got a little disrespectful here, but it’s kind of a button issue.  One of my favorite professors said that his generation screwed mine, because you wouldn’t make good the change you started in the 60’s.  You just let the potential you had ebb away.  He was right.  Nice work, Bill.

Until next time, a quote,

“We had all the momentum.  We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.  So now, less than five years later, you can go up a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west.  And with the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the high water mark.  The place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.”  – Raoul Duke, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Peace out,

Maverick

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