I see a lot of claims coming from all over the political right, about the "mainstream media" being "fake news". Details vary, but the common thread is that they are left-wing (or are controlled by the far left) and they are very untruthful, especially regarding President Trump.
The "far left" is NOT the same as the "mainstream media", despite the false claims. Ultimately, these false claims derive from far-right or extremist sources coming off the internet. There are several, but perhaps the best known of late is the Qanon internet community, which has fed claims to many others.
In contrast to the claims about the media being "fake news", here are some observations of my own about the "mainstream media":
There are 5 national TV networks that offer news. Each has a cadre of professional journalists, and each has an overt or covert editorial slant, imposed from above in the case of the 4 commercially-owned networks. My own evaluations of these features follow:
NBC News, good quality journalism, openly left-wing editorial slant, but not really far-left.
CBS News, good quality journalism, rather centrist editorially.
ABC News, good quality journalism, centrist editorial slant, entertainment news overprioritized by ownership (unsurprising since that ownership is first and foremost an entertainment company: Disney).
Fox News, good quality journalism, openly right-wing editorial slant, with rather far-right opinions freely and frequently mixed in with the news. According to its founder (Rupert Murdoch), it was actually created to be right-wing entertainment, not news. Yet there really is news content.
PBS Newshour, excellent journalism, mostly centrist in editorial slant (NPR radio is more left-wing, but it is not far-left).
As for the cable news services, I don't often see them anymore, not having cable TV out here on the farm. But when I do see them, I am NOT impressed! Dilute content repeated endlessly, for the most part. Some (most egregiously the cable outlet for Fox News) freely intermix opinion with news as if the opinion were fact, when it is not. I do NOT consider these outlets "mainstream" despite their prevalence.
I don't consider radio much of a news source anymore. Especially not "talk radio". That stuff is all opinion, and usually quite extreme. Factual content is very, very low. Such is true whether right-wing or left-wing, but my impression is that right-wing talk radio dominates the field. None of this qualifies as "mainstream media".
Newspapers seem to be a mixed bag. Those few I am familiar with seem to report accurate news, colored somewhat by one or the other editorial slant. Usually, with newspapers, it is clear what is opinion, and what is presented as fact.
My own hometown paper seems rather centrist in its slant on its op-ed page (despite many letters to the editor claiming otherwise), and I cannot at all quibble with what it publishes as actual news facts. Those facts seem quite consistent with the facts reported on the "mainstream" TV network news shows.
Media vs Covid-19 Vaccines
I have even seen one claim coming from a far-right source that the "mainstream media" are the ones saying the new Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe. That is patently ridiculous, as direct observation easily confirms.
The "mainstream media" (meaning only the 5 broadcast networks offering news!!!) all repeatedly point out that a big fraction of the public are reluctant (or worse) to take the new Covid-19 vaccines. They repeatedly ask proper health industry or government sources why this is so, and if the vaccines are actually safe. While opinions vary as to why there is vaccine hesitancy, the media repeatedly and uniformly publicize the answers about vaccine safety: that no corners were cut, that they really are safe.
NONE of these mainstream news networks make any claim that it is unsafe! NOT ONE!!! It's right there in the public records for anyone to go and see for themselves. Any such claims are therefore (by my own direct observation) NOT (I repeat NOT!!!) coming from the "mainstream media" (as defined just above).
How This Relates to Qanon
Most of the disinformation about these new vaccines being unsafe (or the closely-related claims that the disease is not the threat that it really is) come from the social media sources that I personally despise as "propaganda-liars-for-profit", and ultimately it traces (if you bother to trace it) to the far-right extremists running the Qanon (and closely-related) sites, which all exist fundamentally to make a profit from sowing division and discord.
These extremists and the allied neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups are collectively what the FBI recently classified as likely sources of domestic terrorism. I think the FBI is quite right about that. Believers in this stuff have recently committed more murders than any leftists I ever heard of, over the same time span of the last few years.
The Qanon sites were the message boards 4chan, then 8chan, then 8kun, in turn feeding disinformation content to a variety of monetized blogs and youtube channels, such as "the X-22 Report". People forward me youtube videos like that all the time. They are filled with egregious nonsense.
The anonymous poster (or more likely posters plural) who is "Q" seems to have been relatively quiet posting on 8kun, ever since the election that Trump lost.
People otherwise smart enough to know better, spout this Qanon-based bullshit at me all the time! They are all strong Trump supporters. They are not dissuaded from believing these lies by any facts, because this is NOT a knowledge system, it is a belief system, almost a religious cult! And a very dangerous cult at that! It inspires violence in its most rabid followers. We have already seen it.
Is Russian Disinformation Involved?
It would NOT surprise me in the least to learn that one of the multiple entities masquerading as "Q" on these "sources" turns out to be (at least sometimes) one or another of the Russian intelligence groups planting disinformation to divide us. They've been all over the other social media giants for at least half a decade now, doing exactly that.
I've seen some of the same disinformation claims on the likes of Sputnik and RT ("Russia Today"), which are known Russian propaganda organs freely operating legally in the US (something I'd like to see changed).
Their modus operandi is to mix big lies with some kernels of truth, to make the lies seem more credible, then rely on repetition to create the illusion of total truth. Sound familiar? Both the Nazis and the Russian communists used this propaganda tactic, along with many other evildoers.
So, The Vaccines Really Are Safe Enough
Operation "Warp Speed" is one of the very few really good things that Mr. Trump did while president! By guaranteeing to buy the vaccines whether they were approved or not, this program cut years off the usual development-to-deployment schedule. With profit guaranteed, the companies were well-motivated to expend the resources up-front, to do this job as fast as they have.
No corners were cut, not by the companies, not by the regulators, and not by the advisory groups to those regulators, despite the unethical political pressures that got applied.
The two vaccines so far approved are indeed safe enough, and a lot more effective than most of the ordinary flu vaccines. That is remarkable! And more are coming. There were half a dozen or more, still in development when the first two were approved.
Whether these vaccines remain effective as the virus mutates with time, remains to be seen. So far, the thinking, and what little evidence there is, would suggest they still are effective.
Conclusions Regarding "Mainstream Media"
The vaccines are safe and people should take them. So say the experts, and so say the reports coming from the "mainstream media", as I defined them here for this discussion. These reports seem reliable enough to me, on this (and most other topics). Which means those far-right claims of "fake news" really are the utter bullshit that I said they were, just a few paragraphs above.
And that judgement includes Mr. Trump, who has used the phrase "fake news" in mistreating reporters, ever since he took office. He has since added "coronavirus hoax" and "stolen election" to the claims he makes, all of which started with the Qanon community.
That is enough to conclude that many of his beliefs are driven by the those of the Qanon community. And that is quite dangerous for a person in his job, those all being disinformation. No one can make good decisions based on false data.
This "exrocketman" blog is about my own opinions, and about what I do factually know that folks might find useful in some way. I try to distinguish opinion from fact (this entire article is an opinion piece, except for facts noted as such).
Fact: This blog is NOT monetized! I make NOTHING from these postings! Include THAT in your judgements about what I have said here!
There is a closely-related article that goes into more detail about Qanon and the threat it poses with the lies it spreads. It is "Q As A Threat to the US", dated 18 December 2020.
There is another closely-related article that documents my analysis of leader cults (which Trumpism definitely is), whether political or religious or both. It is "Beware of Leader Cults", dated 13 February 2020.
Update 1-10-2021: there is also "It Ain't Over Yet!", posted 1-10-2021.
Update 1-17-2021: add "Sometimes You Simply Must Do What Is Right" published 1-17-2021.
The easiest way to find these articles is with the navigation tool at the left side of this page. In general, you just need the date and title to find something very quickly. Scribble it down so you don't forget. Click on the year, then click on the month, then on the title. You're there.
One Final Thing:
The Qanon aspect of this topic is very important; and here is why: since the election loss, the Qanon community has been pushing for Mr. Trump to declare martial law prior to the scheduled transition January 20th, using falsely-claimed election fraud as the excuse. This would be to re-run the recent election "under military supervision", presumably to see that a Trump "win" results. Given sufficient military support, he could thereby become a dictator over the US.
Unfortunately, there are those in the military that might actually support this overthrow of representative democracy, they being part of the Qanon leader cult! Retired Gen. Michael Flynn is one example we already know from news reports, there are others similar to him ***, and some others who still serve on active duty.
If this martial-law-based attempted coup actually happens (nothing is certain), it could easily lead to some sort of civil war!
Don't ever say I didn't warn you! Because I just did!
***PS - Besides retired Gen. Michael Flynn, there are other military officers and civilian figures who have embraced Trump's adoption of the Qanon nonsense (first "fake news", then "coronavirus hoax", and now "stolen election"). Flynn is the one along with former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who called for martial law and a re-run of the election overseen by the military.
Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been a vocal Q advocate, but seems to have backed off from the martial law coup prospect, according to some reports.
3 other military officers who are known to be part of this group of Qanon advocates are retired Gen. Anthony Tata, retired Gen. Thomas McInerny, and former USAF Captain Scott O'Grady, recently nominated by Trump for an Assistant Secretary of Defense position. Some Special Forces vets say that there are many more.
When flag-rank military officers believe in this bullshit, we really do have a problem on our hands!