How to tell the truth and lie at the same time

Numerous articles last week declared that the 2020 Democratic National Convention drew 20% more television viewers than the Republican National Convention. Most of them failed to mention the fact that this is not 1996, and we are no longer reliant on TV. In fact, nearly six times as many people watched the RNC online than they did the DNC. The total number of viewers for the RNC was 20% higher for the DNC – the mirror image of the insinuation of these articles.

Why were there so many articles written on the TV ratings? Propaganda – take something that is technically true, report it, and claim objectivity – like a footballer protesting innocence after committing a foul. By choosing which facts to report carefully the media can create or bolster a given narrative (DNC a success; RNC a flop).

Why might Republicans or interested outsiders be less likely to watch the RNC on TV? (answer: they are much more likely to mistrust the media). Why does the media wish to imply that the DNC won the ratings battle?

There are moderately interesting aspects to this story, but covering them thoughtfully (or doing journalism) requires a modicum of thinking and a smidgen of integrity. Much easier just to report ‘facts.’

Categories: media

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