Majority Villain

WE ARE THE PEOPLE

podcasting the shit out of democracy...

Check Your Math

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” -Mark Twain

Salutations to the Majority Villain, listeners, and readers!

It’s sad that the word “epic” gets thrown around a lot more than it should be. The word genius, as another example, used to be used to describe era defining intellects in a given field, like Einstein or Mozart. But these days, anyone who brings extra toilet paper to a Thanksgiving dinner is a “genius”. In the same vein, “epic” in today’s parlance is used to describe things such as bottle flips or someone tripping and falling through a glass sliding door. “Epic” used to describe grandiose stories; like the Odyssey, a man’s journey home and the many trials he faces in doing so, or the Epic of Gilgamesh, a man battling his peers and the gods in the journey to find life eternal. Those stories are epic. An anger-fueled tirade, however, is not.

One of the flaws of the Information Age is the sheer mass of information that’s out there. People have entire libraries at their fingertips, calling up something specific within seconds of asking for it. When applied to information as a whole, it sometimes isn’t verified as well as it should be, if at all. In spite of that, people are willing to take a lot of information at face value. In those cases, it’s easy for someone to be misled.

Let’s use something recent as an example. Not too long ago, comedian Jimmy Dore went on a tear aimed at the Washington Post and how they lie to their readers when they don’t disclose their bias in a video with the title “Washington Post Caught Blatantly Lying To Their Readers Yet Again”. In the video, Dore mentions that the owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, has a $600 million dollar deal with the CIA. This deal is something that creates a journalistic conflict of interest when it isn’t disclosed to the readers, especially when the Washington Post allows an editorial written by a pro-Trump lobbyist (written in reference to Trump’s use of a certain type of missile strike) is published by the Washington Post.

Now there are a lot of things about the above paragraph that need to be scrutinized. First, the title doesn’t address what it is the Washington Post is lying about or why it’s blatant. It is, in essence, clickbait. Second, the explicit details about this supposed deal are mostly false and Dore doesn’t clarify what he’s talking about. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, doesn’t have a deal with the intelligence community. The CIA made a deal with Amazon, a publicly traded company, for a service. In 2015, the CIA approached Amazon Web Services to design a cloud computing infrastructure to serve as an upgrade to their old systems and a secure database that could be shared between numerous intelligence agencies. The price for this service is $60M for ten years, or $600M over ten years. Third, in the entirety of his piece, Dore doesn’t cite anywhere that he gets his information that he bases his accusations on. (Citations at the end of this piece)

To sum up, Jimmy Dore’s piece is based off of facts distorted to fit a specific narrative targeted as an attack on a media outlet. The Washington Post isn’t lying, Jeff Bezos doesn’t have a deal with the CIA, and this particular media outlet isn’t, as Dore puts it, an “attack dog” of the state. In regards to the lobbyist, the only thing the Washington Post is guilty of is journalistic integrity in that they were a platform for another voice to be heard, whether people agreed with what was said or not. In fact, Dore could be accused of what he is attacking the Washington Post for; he’s not disclosing his own bias when it comes to the people he works for or how traffic on the internet affects his income.

The Information Age has given everyone a voice, and that is magnificent. However, their needs to be a sense of scrutiny on what is heard, and more people need to be skeptical about what they hear, especially when someone isn’t showing how they got to a particular conclusion. There are going to be things out there that intrigue or anger someone who views them, but times being what they are, less should be taken at face value and the act of verifying something should be taken.

As you were told in math classes, show your work.

Cheers.

Sources:
“Washington Post Caught Blatantly Lying To Their Readers Yet Again” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDF1kDhHDEI&t=629s&spfreload=10

Thread on Skeptics.StackExchange debunking Dore’s Accusations -
https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/38520/does-the-owner-of-the-washington-post-have-a-deal-with-the-cia-worth-600-million

Fortune.com article referencing the deal between Amazon and the CIA -
http://fortune.com/2015/06/29/intelligence-community-loves-its-new-amazon-cloud/