Monday, January 10, 2011

Assume Stupidity

Just to prove newpaper editors are as ignorant as mainstream media consumers when it comes to understanding politics, the San Francisco Chronicle today ran a caption on the Congresswoman Giffords shooter to wit: "Giffords Shooter Delusional, Not Political." Oh, really? Delusional people can't commit violence based on political beliefs? Beliefs the shooter overtly proclaimed on the Internet? Has this editor never heard of the Oklahoma City bombing?

Based on considerable experience deciphering media incoherence, it's not unusual at all for headlines and captions to suggest conclusions completely out of whack with the facts, even when the facts are clearly explained in the article. The downside of this incompetence is that one never really knows when media is participating in a cover-up, or when they're simply screwing up. The fact that many readers mostly scan headlines, and only occasionally read whole articles, doubles the impact of this institutional ignorance.

One could write a book about incoherent news media practices, but suffice to say it's always best to assume stupidity first, malice second. The odds will be in your favor.


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