Fake News, Post Truth and Other Strategies

EYEponder the unlikely possibility that the Channel 4 News Team have a less than liberal view about the kneecapping of British journalists they don’t like.

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When Channel 4 News’ Cathy Newman recently ‘tackled’ Milo Yiannopoulos about his views on feminism, gender pay gaps and rape culture, many reckoned  that she (metaphorically) delivered a knock out blow in the precise moment that she reminded him of his quote about living in a ‘post fact’ universe.

“We live in a post-fact era. It’s wonderful. The Washington Post gives a truth check, and no one cares. Now you have to use the truth and other strategies. You have to be persuasive.” Milo Yiannopoulos

It certainly unseated his argument about ‘facts’ being more important than ‘feelings’ but EYEcan’t help wonder if  Newman didn’t ultimately prove the very point he was trying to make before she interrupted him.

 

Anyone remotely familiar with Milo’s particular style of journalism will understand that he has much more in common with Jon Stewart than he has with Jon Snow. For the uninitiated, this ‘fact’ may significantly reframe Newman’s painfully po faced examination of his intentionally provocative headlines and expose the blatant bias and sensationalism in the approach she decided to adopt.

You know perfectly well that it is a provocation designed to make people think and perhaps to make them laugh. Milo Yiannopoulos

Newman was especially disingenuous in her puritanical interpretation of  his suggestion that ‘women should log off the internet’.  Ironically this display of faux-offence, not to mention her post interview reaction to some harshly worded criticism, only helped to underline the very serious point that Yianoppoulous was making in his very not so serious way.

‘Facts’ just aren’t enough these days, you have to be persuasive’ and one way to persuade people to is to pander to their personal political perspectives (or dare EYEsay it…prejudices), while another is to appeal to their emotions because, as Yiannopoulos quite accurately points out, hurt feelings have a special type of currency that can easily be exploited.

And whatever you think of him as a person (or politically), it is extremely difficult not to conclude that Cathy Newman employed both persuasion tactics to bolster her version of the ‘truth’ when she started tweeting about the ‘torrent of misogyny‘ she witnessed in the aftermath of her interview.

EYEexamined this claim in some considerable detail and, while accepting that a small amount of people said some misogynistic things, concluded that she was (as so often seems to be the case) conflating, a not insignificant amount of, personal ‘criticism’ with the #trending twitter theme of sexist ‘abuse’.

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What was particularly noticeable was that, while Newman did at least acknowledge that the majority (or torrent) of tweets she received were extremely supportive, she opted not to comment on or criticise the significant proportion of her support base directing harsh language and ‘threats’ of violence at Yiannopoulos.

Although some tweeters described it as such, Newman initially held back from describing her experience as ‘abuse’. This changed after a few days when she officially embraced the social media ‘abuse’ narrative and called on twitter to take action.

And yet the seasoned journalist and self-identifying feminist had nothing to say about the **Trigger Warning** (literal) digital shit posts that some of her male supporters sent a sister who simply queried the accuracy of the Channel 4 News presenter’s claim.

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Newman brought her tweet to the attention of her 130,000 followers by rebuffing (and yet simultaneously ignoring) what seemed like a entirely reasonable question under the circumstances.

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Predictably she ignored my follow up.

It would be interesting to see how she would have reacted if anyone (let alone one of her male colleagues) had suggested that she deserved a kneecapping for expressing her political views and defending her journalistic style.

Or if a member of the Reclaim the Internet cross party coalition and the sponsor of the proposed Malicious Communications (Social Media) Bill had told her followers that she wanted to punch a male female journalist in the face.

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My analysis shows that Newman did receive (a not insignificant number of) tweets that many will find either overtly offensive or indicative of underlying bias or bigotry. EYEdo not seek to defend such idiocy, nor do EYEclaim to know how this experience impacted on Cathy Newman personally and wish her the best.

The reason EYEbelieve it was worthwhile examining the accuracy of the respected journalist’s torrent of twitter ‘abuse’ claim is that members of the media have been extremely selective in how they consider such incidents and at times have grossly exaggerated or misrepresented the ‘facts’. When doing so they also tend to ignore any inconvenient truths, including the fact that ‘offense’ can clearly  be feigned as a passive aggressive tool to deflect criticism and /or attempt to silence people you disagree with.

Such a phenomenon reached outrageously toxic levels during this years battle for the leadership of the Labour party and Cathy Newman herself has previously contributed some seemingly nuanced (or extremely naive) observations about such matters.

In September she concluded that social media has been destroyed by online trolls and theres no way back  and even doubled down on MP Jess Phillips’ outrageous claim about having received anywhere between 600 and ‘thousands of rape threats’ in one night.

Not only does such behaviour scare people off social media but it also undermines and exploits the very real victims of online stalking and harassment.

Ironically it also lends considerable weight to the point Yiannopoulos was making in the article beneath the provocative headline that Cathy Newman was so horrified by.

The fact is, women are more easily rattled by nastiness than men. That’s a stereotype, but it’s also true — in the landmark Pew study on online harassment, women were more than twice as likely as men to say they were “very upset” by online harassment. That’s why, despite the fact that men are more likely to face abuse online, it’s mostly women you hear complaining about it in the pages of The Guardian and on Buzzfeed.

Men have had enough of third-wave feminism’s incessant and pathetic whinging about everything from gender pronouns to this bizarre “online harassment” craze — or “cyber-violence,” as they sometimes bizarrely call it. Women are upset at men being rude to them, and feel “oppressed,” we are told, whenever they are treated on equal terms as men in the maelstrom of trolling that is social media. Milo – Women Should Log Off

Milo appears to have largely brushed the incident off his shoulder, simply describing Channel 4 News as ‘mean‘ for coming after him in the way that they did.

He moved on to cheerfully participate in a comparatively convivial discussion about the Sunday papers on Sky News but remarkably, within a week of his Channel 4 interview, he was stopped from speaking at his old school after an intervention from the Department for Education’s counter-extremism unit.

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Even more remarkably, his school claimed that ‘the talk had been cancelled because of safety concerns, with almost all of the opposition to it coming from outside the school’ and that the Orwellian  counter-extremism unit had advised them about the ‘threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public, and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community.

The consequences of the professionally outraged’s actions will be long-lived. A cohort of sixth-formers, before entering a university, has  been taught that the way to deal with ideas you find politically distasteful is to howl in protest and insist they go away. Schools around the country have learnt not to invite speakers who may be remotely controversial. And badly needed opposition to Prevent is in tatters.  Parent of Simon Langton Pupil

In this post fact era of fake news epidemics, is it entirely unfair to speculate that someone had got wind of the possibility that the Ch4 News Team may have whipped up a punch happy hate mob hoping to make good on that kneecapping suggestion?

 

When researching this EYEwas surprised to discover that Newman voluntarily logged off from twitter last year after being caught out pushing some fake news of her own.

On that occasion she was accused of stirring up religious intolerance after a London Mosque received death threats before ultimately releasing CCTV footage to disprove her claim that she had been ushered out the door because she was a woman.

EYEwonder what she really thinks about the suggestion that a British journalist who is critical of third wave feminist tactics should be kneecapped for expressing his personal political perspective on British TV in the year 2016?

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