Making it, faking it

by | Nov 30, 2017 | Uncategorized

2017 has been more about news commentating on the bizarre and lucid state of the news than ever before.

Of course, it’s fakery that everyone is railing against: the dreaded fake news.

But when MSNBC taped the Friday, Nov. 24 live episode of Morning Joe on Wednesday Nov. 22 as the Washington Post reported last week – it’s worth repeating the phrase again.

On the surface it doesn’t seem like MSNBC pulled off a major news crime. Besides, it’s the holidays after all and people will understand if it isn’t live, right? The fact is, many people didn’t notice anything was wrong.

The anchors, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, began the show with your typical scripted post-Thanksgiving banter about turkeys and watching the football game with the family, when it hadn’t even happened yet on Wednesday. The only thing distinguishing this taped edition from the always live editions: the Live icon absent from the screen.

The time zone clocks all looked the same. The crawl underneath was live, too, even showing the breaking news of an Egyptian mosque under radical Islamic attack. Morning Joe, a show designed to break news, wasn’t able to comment on it.

The program continued after the commercial break with a reporter joining the show to talk more about the Roy Moore pedophile story.

This is a concerning trend. Is canning news something you would trust?

“There was no intention to trick viewers,” said an MSNBC spokeswoman about the incident. “Would it have helped if there was a disclaimer” referencing it as a delayed broadcast? “Maybe. But that’s not typically done.”

This lack of transparency certainly raises questions about what news networks are doing to manipulate the viewer or, at the very least, stretch the viewer’s expectations.

The news cannot and should not be deceptive. The subtle details and window dressing made this Morning Joe program appear like the rest, an as advertised live news and conversation show.

But if a news agency is being deceptive, you must ask the important question: for what purpose?

Taping a TV program two days in advance isn’t a heinous crime. But being a live, breaking news show and not being live or breaking the news and not telling your viewer that’s the case, that’s a major cause of concern.

Considering how much MSNBC has been under fire from the Trump and fake news crowd, why would they let themselves be sitting ducks for those dying to call them out on their lack of integrity and disingenuous tricks?

Unless they knew they could get away with it.

If there’s one thing news networks have realized it’s knowing their psychographic. Fox News knows what makes the average rural conservative tick, CNN and MSNBC know what gets liberals feeling good about themselves. They know how to run their teams.

If CNN is talking about Roy Moore for the last two weeks, Fox plays offence and harps on the conduct of Senator Al Franken and newsman Charlie Rose. Then each network will trot out the opponent’s most repugnant, rhetoric fuelled gasbag to counter their network consensus with: “Isn’t this just a distraction tactic by the left/right?”

Political allegiances are not being played out in the ways they have in the past. Like your last election vote, your favourite news network is a reflection of your political and social ideologies. Each network’s news cycle fuels our presuppositions, instead of challenging our convictions. The networks cater to their viewers through sport mentality, which is inherent in today’s political atmosphere.

Did MSNBC believe they’d get significant backlash for bending the guidelines of their own programming? Who knows. But they probably thought their viewers’ allegiance would allow them to prevail while provoking the same attacks from the right that make our ears bleed. In the long run, their base is staying.

News about the credibility of news from those in the news business is exhausting to everyone else. But playing these misdirection games, taping live news shows and playing rebel with the consequences, pulls opposites farther and farther apart in a time that doesn’t need any more motivation and spark.

– Michael Menzies, Senior Editor

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