The convergence of fake news and entertainment.

A long time ago when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, there was news and there was entertainment; and never the twain would meet. The print newspaper business was already suffering from the encroachment of radio and then television. It takes some time to write a news story, get it typeset, printed, distributed and finally into Joe Public’s hand. Radio took a slice out of their market, but luckily it couldn’t show pictures, and then television came along.

The dissemination of news on paper survived television by a surprisingly long time. I think the reasons are subtle. Television could get you the current news but before the advent of 24/7 news stations, only at certain fixed times of the day if you were in the proximity of one, and due to commercial pressures of advertising and entertainment programming, it was necessarily brief. Five, fifteen or thirty minutes tops. Not being able to match the speed of electronic sources, newspapers slowly gravitated via analysis to opinion pieces, and breaking news, because it simply couldn’t compete, started to take on a secondary priority.

Because the traditional line between straight forward reporting and opinion pieces had broken down, increasingly the facts of the matter started becoming secondary and were used selectively to buttress whatever sort of spin was being imparted to the story. There has always been an element of that in the news business, but nowadays it seems so commonplace and endemic, it’s hardly remarked upon by anyone. What has happened though, is that this concocting of articles from a mash-up of reportage and opinion, has been noticed by the public who’ve lost trust in the product.

With some degree of lag, the same process occurred in both television and Internet news providers

This loss of the demarcation line became a slippery slope. Pretty soon the facts started originating from anonymous sources, who may or may not have existed. If such sources did exist, the immemorial question of what was in it for them was never asked. The practice of double sourcing an important article had long ago fallen by the wayside. Once you get into that integrity morass, the final step is to just start making up facts, which they did.

That’s how we arrived at fake news.

When you add in the news organisations’ overwhelming left-wing leaning, which strangely enough half of their potential customers don’t share, what has become an irritatingly preachy product is not only distrusted, but actively disliked in many quarters and therefore is not selling. That’s why journalists in newsrooms over the last decade have been culled down to a fraction of their original number.

Entertainment, in its own way, was undergoing a different change but the end result of it was strangely similar to what happened to the news. It was no longer enough to just tell a joke, sing a song or even perform a simple drama. The joke mustn’t offend the sensibilities of any minority, the song mustn’t be about forbidden things like patriotism and the drama better have a subtle (meaning as obvious as getting hit in the face with a brick) underlying message delivered by fully represented racial types, gender aberrations and of course complete with the one token white guy who’s either a gormless idiot or an obnoxious person who hates something or other considered self-evidently a good thing by the righteous. Always a guy, never a gal.

A recent series on TV about the siege of Troy, which reputedly cost £2m an episode to make, was a complete flop. Apart from savaging the basic story, an indifferent cast and a script full of PC attitudes which would be totally out-of-place in those ancient times, an inordinate number of the leading characters were either black or half-cast. I’m sure there were one or two Nubians running around in ancient Greece, but only one or two, and none of whom were highly placed aristocrats like Achilles. It was a pretty blatant in your face example of what’s called black-washing and really didn’t help a production that already had serious problems. The reviews of it were uniformly scathing.

As an aside, the compulsive liberal re-examination of our history seems to have resulted in a bunch of lightly educated morons trying to rewrite it in some bizarre Orwellian fashion. It’s no wonder all those new colleges are going bust. Any kid with two brain cells to rub together knows going on to third level education is a surefire way to get $70K in debt, just to end up with a useless piece of paper that won’t get you a job.

An inordinate amount of what passes for entertainment seems to have had its content run through a sieve of message driven relevance to the stylish and politically correct view of the world that is held by the entertainers. They obviously believe the smoke and mirrors stuff they are creating and then presenting to the public is actually reality. It is not. Instead of entertainment engaging with the reality of its consumers, increasingly it is trying to impose its own false reality on them, and it has exactly the same irritating preachy tone to it as fake news.

Art of whatever type, and in the broadest sense, has to be anchored in reality. It’s the common thread running all the arts. Without that, people simply can’t relate to it. By imposing such artificial constraints on the product, they’re quite simply sucking the reality out of it, so people have stopped buying it. Last year Hollywood had its worst year in the previous twenty-five and the viewing audience for the most recent Oscar show plummeted by over twenty percent compared to the year before, which itself wasn’t too hot.

In terms of the consumer’s attitude to them, both news and entertainment have become indistinguishable because they’ve converged to produce essentially the same product that people are averse to buying because they neither trust nor like it. Outside the realms of Obamacare, you can’t make people buy a product if they don’t want to. Both industries are nowhere near as profitable as they used to be for that simple reason.

What we’re talking about here is the sale of distorted realities. There will always be some people who for a variety of reasons, feel safety and comfort in believing uncritically in such illusions, but for them there’ll come a day when an encounter with true reality will smash their false reality into a thousand pieces. I’m reminded of the tragic example of an Italian woman who decided to prove that Islam was the religion of peace by hitchhiking in a wedding dress from Italy to Turkey. She was subsequently found in a ditch, gang raped and strangled to death in the latter country.

What, if anything, can these industries do to regain their former customers?

Entertainment companies like Netflix and HBO are doing quite nicely, because they’re producing a quality product that their customers like and are prepared to pay extra for. Most of the rest of the industry is producing formulaic dross that’s anything but entertaining. If they’re to survive, they’re going to have to refashion their offering for the changing tastes of audiences outside the stylish enclaves of LA and NY. Sentiment in the world is changing, so in response, they must change their product as well.

Lose the political re-education, the PC, the preachiness, the SJW causes and just go back to producing a quality product that the ordinary person can relate to. It’s not rocket science. One of the oldest formulas in entertainment is – give the public what they want, and they’ll come to see it. The runaway success of the recent reboot of the 80s show Roseanne hitting 16m viewers on its first episode is mainly due to the simple fact that it ignored all those supposedly sacred cows and reflected a real family, warts and all.

For the big traditional news organisations, as currently structured, I’m not sure there is a way back because trust, precious commodity that it is, has been lost in them by too many people. You can’t simply go from confessing you’ve been lying to your consumers for years, but promising no more lies from now on. Nothing short of some radical surgery could preserve the business. Perhaps, let tarnished brands like CNN very publicly sink, start a new channel using entirely fresh faces and a determination to get back to some semblance of objectivity and traditional journalistic integrity.

At the moment, the only solution to its credibility problem being suggested by the news industry itself, is to set up one or more bodies which will decide what’s fake news and what’s true, with the none too subtle implication that the fake news will be screened out of their offering. Given that the screening organisations being suggested are being bankrolled by people like George Soros, it would just be putting some pseudo-official stamp of authority on the already existing informal censorship of conservative views.

That would never work and in all probability would only exacerbate their problems. If after a year of nothing but fake, negative and hit piece stories about Trump being shoved down consumer’s throats by nearly every major news outlet, they could ignore all of it and still vote him in as US president, the obvious implication is that people are more than capable of screening out fake news themselves. It’s also a graphic indication of the magnitude of the trust problem the industry has.

Establishing a body to screen out fake news would be widely perceived as putting an official censor over all news, which is exactly what it would be. If they don’t trust you now, why would they trust a censorship body you all set up with your mates? It would merely segregate news into what was officially approved and the real news circulating around in the as usual uncontrollable Internet. Given the almost religious fervour of the liberal news media, I can see the puritanical attraction of setting up the equivalent of the sixteenth century Index Librorum Prohibitorum to keep unpalatable ideas at bay and preserve their safe spaces.

The other similarity in their current situation between these two industries, is an inexplicable persistence in trying to sell their customers a product that patently so many of those customers find objectionable. This has resulted in both their reputations and revenue streams being severely damaged. CNN no longer has a single program in the top twenty and its daily viewing numbers have plunged down the ladder to the point where the children’s cartoon channel above them is attracting more viewers.

In business, self-immolation of a company for some noble cause is simply not done. At some point the people who actually own the business, the shareholders, will step in, replace the management team with one that can pull it out of the revenue death spiral and get profits heading northwards again. Entertainment, being a fickle, stylish and very flexible business, is an easy fix. The problems with news are not. In too many cases, I think severe damage has been done, the road back to rising profits would be a long one, so the advice from the bean counters will be to take the hit, close it down, claim the tax loss and use the freed up cash to invest in more profitable ventures.

And they’ll be right.


Related articles by Pointman:

The decline and fall of the mainstream media.

The spoilt brat complex.


Know your enemy: the establishment journalist.

Click for a list of other articles.

12 Responses to “The convergence of fake news and entertainment.”
  1. philjourdan says:

    You fairly well document what as gone on in the “news” industry. But I suspect you are even behind the time table. Some of what you speak of in the future tense is already occurring or has occurred. But like termites, the damage is not evident until the final collapse.

    One such areas is your reference to ” Index Librorum Prohibitorum “. It is already upon us. And we are not even talking about perception of reality. But reality itself. (I am not sure of the extent in the UK, only how it has progressed here). Many old classics are being banned because they contain a forbidden word (not idea – word). Classics such as Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. The turn of the century saw the rise of the PC culture where you could not say certain words. That progressed into “micro-aggressions” that were basically harmless but might impact some snowflakes feelings, so were deemed inappropriate. To the current status where daily news brings us stories of more books being banned/burned because some SJW snowflake without the brains to understand the content, got upset at a word or 2 contained therein.

    As I noted over on Chiefio’s blog, Obama begat Trump. Obama is the catalyst for the suppression of ideas and speech. It works well for brain dead SJWs, but not for the “silent majority”. And Trump is the Golden Bull (see his latest – Thus Trump) that is trampling the restrictions and censorship that was and is running amok.

    The news industry is dead, and you nailed what is needed. But I doubt it will happen as the inability of the “righteous” to admit errors will prevent them from correcting what they cannot admit exists.

    The truly informed in the Internet age will not be who reads the most news. But who can recognize bias and apply it to the news they do read. The rest will merely wander around in a world of ignorance until the Masters of the Universe have tired of their existence.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. John Garrett says:

    Broadcast media is leftish. Why is that?

    It’s one of the few sectors of the economy left where job seekers can find employment without having tackled the academically difficult subject areas such as chemistry, engineering, geology, mathematics, physics, statistics, accounting, medicine or microbiology.

    Employment can be found by innumerate B.A,s (“Bullshit Artists”) in possession of degrees in history, political “science”, English, art history, sociology, philosophy, women’s studies, anthropology or ethnic studies. Many of these graduates are indoctrinated with institutionally and pedagogically-instilled “chips on their shoulders.” They’ve been taught that the world isn’t fair and it’s their responsibility to save the world from itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Graeme No.3 says:

      Another sector where job seekers can find employment without having tackled the academically difficult subjects is Climatology.


  3. Russ Wood says:

    South Africa has two main news(paper) streams, and the South African Broadcasting Company (SABC). On top of this are the smaller ‘indigenous language’ papers that I’m afraid I can’t comment on. The SABC is deliberately controlled (and slanted) by the government of the day (i,e. The ANC), while the newspapers fall generally into Afrikaans and English groups. Both sets of newspapers are doing badly, and the SABC only survives because it’s the ONLY indigenous language broadcaster. Meanwhile, the English-language newspaper group was sold to a South African Indian businessman, using a massive loan from Government controlled pension funds, in order to have an outlet that is friendly to the ANC. So friendly is it, that in the first few months, disagreeing editors were fired, and replacement editors showed up at an ANC celebration wearing ANC colours. None of this stopped the newspaper group from going downhill, and now questions are being asked in Parliament as to JUST what is happening to the lump of civil servants’ pension money that was put into the papers.
    This ‘Independent’ news group has declared that the national press review board will no longer be of any influence, and they will review any complaints internally.
    Yep! The media is failing all over the place!


  4. PaleoSapiens says:

    There was a professor/scholar excoriated, in the news (an Internet search failed to identify specifics), for repeating German scholar Joachim Fest’s view. In 1973 Fest published a biography of Hitler. Fest hypothesized, had Hitler died in 1939, Hitler would have been known as one of the greatest leaders of human history.

    The furor and ‘outrage’ from Jewish and leftist groups raised quite a stink. There was no discussion of any merit or truth to the observation. The sole object was to immediately condemn and shut down anything even remotely contrary to the narrative of Hitler – from beginning to end – as cruelty, malevolence, intolerance, brutality, and pure evil incarnate.

    This incident was awhile before today’s poisonous and censorious atmosphere… Anyone else remember this precursor to today’s “news-speak,” group-think?


  5. Margaret Smith says:

    I see the objective is to keep the public fooled until the power grab is complete. But….said public have been finding out too soon that the press, TV and social media have been driving a political agenda.

    The left have not quite quite achieved total power throughout the capitalist world and now, horror of horrors, it’s beginning to slip away. Are the revelations coming in time to stop the commies?

    Old Chinese curse – May you live in interesting times.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hoppers says:

    The kids are all watching each other on live streams, and some are making pretty decent money. Some of these live streams are frankly excellent. Did you know that serious organised debates about important subjects are very popular on the steams? Traditional media is dead in two generations.


  7. beththeserf says:

    Clinton, Clapper, Comey, collusions with a (triple) capital ‘ C’.



  8. Pointman says:

    R.I.P. JOURNALISM : Falling New York Times and Washington Post share Pulitzer for unearthing “Possible Russia Ties”



  9. Blackswan says:

    The 1949 US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that once required broadcasters to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance” didn’t keep pace with technology, and the corporatization of American (thus the West’s) Entertainment and News gathered apace. 

    In 1987, under the Reagan administration, the so-called Fairness Doctrine was dropped and attempts to reinstate it in 1993 by Democrats under Clinton’s presidency, failed.

    Was it unconstitutional to require licensed broadcasters to ensure ‘equal time’ for opposing views?

    An interesting 1993 report from Adam Thierer, an F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy explains how “fairness” was taken out of the equation, though why ’national security’ got involved raises further questions …..

    The report summed it up with a reality check – you don’t like what’s on offer? … “Turn the dial.”

    Twenty five years later we get to see the results. Wall-to-wall blanket coverage of biased agenda-driven ’talking-points’ and propaganda.

    By the way, in 2018 we no longer have “dials” on our electronic entertainment systems.

    Perhaps the policy is as outdated as the advice.


  10. Pointman says:

    ‘Roseanne’ Ratings Dominance Continues with 22 Million Delayed Viewers.

    Just give them what they want.



  11. waterside4 says:

    Regarding the indoctrination of the gullible masses vie the cathode ray tube, I (we) do not have to pay the BBC dangeld anymore as I am reckoned to be in the age of senility.
    I do enjoy watching golf (and still playing a bit at Carnoustie my home course) and watching other sports such as Rugby and Gaelic games when they are available.
    To do so I subscribe to Mr Murdoch’s Sky Sports.
    The point I am coming to is that the one thing which pisses me off in my dotage is the content of the frequent commercials I must endure.
    The majority of them feature a happy multicultural family or a female? knocking seven bells of shit out of a fully grown male.
    What in tardnation has happened to the generation of my youth when the lads had scrotum?
    Then we have to have a dolly with an overburdened cleavage pontificating on the progress of men’s sports.
    This is all part of the softening up process of our girly men.


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