on the 21st of october, the Marine Corps Times ran this article :
The article discusses some new uniform changes which may be recommended by the Marine Corps Uniform Board. Among those are a possible switch to a style of hat (“cover”) called the “Dan Daly”, made famous by a World War 1 veteran. President Obama is never mentioned.
on the 23rd, the New York Post ran this article :
This article makes the claim that President Obama is behind the directive to wear these new hats. The sources it cites are some anonymous commenters on the original Marine Times article as well as anonymous Marine officers and an ‘internal memo’ given to the Post, which is not published. The wikipedia article for the New York Post says “The modern version of the paper is written in tabloid format, and is known for its sensationalist headlines and yellow journalism.”
on the 24th, Fox News ran this article:
This article is mostly just a summarization of the New York Post article and cites it as the primary source. It also includes a tangential anecdote about military berets. It does not provide any new citations for the claim that Obama is behind this.
Also on the 24th, the Washington Times ran this article:
Which, again, is mostly reporting on the New York Post article but also cites another anonymous commenter on the original Marine Times article for its claim that “some” fear it looks French.
Finally in the evening on October 24th, Business Insider ran this article:
The author, who is a former Marine, claims that the original New York Post story is false. He cites a Marine Corps spokesperson he spoke with who claims the male cover is not slated to change and also that Obama was not and would not be involved.
It was also noted on the Colbert Report last night.
So, the timeline of events is as follows:
1. Original source reports on routine, semi-interesting internal affair
2. Sensationalist tabloid fabricates and distorts original source, provides few verifiable sources.
3. “Mainstream” news media parrot tabloid’s report without verifying original story, cite tabloid as source to abdicate journalistic responsibility to verify any information. They also use numerous anonymous internet commenters as primary sources.
4. Blogger reaches out to actual source, discredits the original tabloid
5. Satirical media show highlights tabloid as farcical while the reprinted stories are spread across numerous forums and social media sites, where few will take the time to verify any truth to it.
And there you have it : The New Age of American Journalism.
1. If your response is, “why bother taking the time to research, these companies lie all the time and get away with it” – It’s not enough to say this company has a bias or distorts information or provides misinformation; you have to have a clear record of evidence to stand behind. Document when media companies ignore standards of journalistic integrity and hold them accountable.
2. If your response is, “well both sides do it so everyone is equally guilty”, prove it. Otherwise it’s pretty easy for one group to get away with misinformation under the guise of false equivalence.
3. If your response is, “well maybe Obama didn’t directly order it, but (he probably would do something like that | he probably did and covered it up | etc)”, you are part of the problem. If you are okay with a ‘respectable’ news organization deliberately lying to you so long as their lies match your existing political ideology, you are tacitly approving of this behavior – not just in that media organization but in all of them.
I only looked into this because the Post story seemed so bizarre : why was Obama involved with Marine hats? When did he actually give any executive order to wear the new hats? Doesn’t he have better things to be doing, like the giant mess that is healthcare.gov? Those would all be huge problems – if true – but where are all the sources? Furthermore, is it really appropriate to call a hat made famous by a war veteran “girly”, or for a news organization to blatantly insult our military ally France like some sort of Blue Collar Comedian? And finally, have we gotten to the point where news organizations can shout anything they like into the echo chamber of the internet, confident that the only people checking their integrity are pay-per-click bloggers and late-night comedians?