This lede appeared today in the Washington Post.
First of all, note the masthead slogan “Democracy dies in Darkness”. Hold that in your head for a moment.
Now look at the text in the lede…
Oh My God.
This is supposedly a lede for a profile of a man who just shot nearly 600 people in Las Vegas, killing 58 of them on the spot.
Yet it reads like he is one of the victims.
I have been harshly critical of the US mass media for decades. They are superficial, non-inquiring and have spent the last 20 years mostly behaving like non-critical stenographers.
I don’t care about the accusations of “bias”. We all have biases. What worries me is the continual credulous reporting of bullshit as it it were fact, and the failure to understand how the entire news promulgation landscape has changed.
The media in the USA is already in a tough place, excoriated across the political spectrum for multiple reasons. Their previous niche as the unquestioned purveyors of information has been whittled away by internet-based outlets that learned a long time ago how to generate outrageous tosh to get attention. The current US government despises them, and is seeking to further de-legitimize them, because this is a government led by a demagogue who regards all dissent as disloyalty.
And then one of the oldest media outfits in the USA prints a lede like this?
This lede, like a lot of their headlines since Donald Trump assumed the Presidency, is just indefensibly stupid. It is part of a process where the media is normalizing events and people who should not be normalized. The lede normalizes mass murder in a single sentence.
One is tempted to wonder what this lede writer would have done with 9/11. “WTC hit by unscheduled demolition crews – some casualties”?
Jay Rosen has been writing about the media’s problems for a long time. This lede is perfectly illustrative of his diagnosis of their issues.
Unfortunately, ledes like this make media outlets, sooner or later, difficult to defend from malevolence.
The media needs to realize that history will not treat them kindly if they continue to be credulous, supine, and stupid.