How Pseudo Events Are Used by Media to Manufacture Controversy

April 24, 2019 Updated: April 24, 2019

Commentary

The public was lied to for close to two years by legacy news outlets and public figures with claims there was “evidence” that the Trump administration colluded with Russia. Contrary to their claims, the Mueller report showed there was no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. The report showed that all those rumors of evidence and all those claims of anonymous sources were lies.

What’s important to remember is that for these outlets and public figures, facts don’t matter. What matters is how they can twist the facts to keep the public misled and distracted in order to keep their false narratives alive.

During an April 23 White House press briefing, a CNBC reporter asked whether Trump was “going to accept Russian help in the 2020 election?”

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley responded, saying: “I don’t understand the question. … He’s already denounced multiple times Russian involvement.” He noted the Mueller report shows Russian attempts to interfere were known since 2014, but President Barack Obama did nothing to address them.

“We now know why. He thought Hillary Clinton would, in fact, win the election,” Gidley said.

Maintaining False Narratives

Questions such as whether Trump would “accept Russian help” in the upcoming elections build on the false narrative these legacy outlets have been pushing. They perpetuate such narratives by keeping them alive in the public consciousness.

Yet, phrased in a way that assumes something took place, the question forced the press secretary to provide comments these outlets could use for new headlines.

Hillary Clinton pulled a similar move the same day, stating on April 23 that when it came to Trump as described in the Mueller report, “any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted.”

Keep in mind, this is the same Hillary Clinton who was let off in the investigations into her use of a private email server to handle classified information. The DOJ under Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, had set an unusually high threshold for prosecuting Clinton, effectively ensuring from the outset that she would not be charged.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is being accused by ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) of misleading the public on the Mueller report by falsely claiming that the special counsel intended for Congress to decide whether Trump obstructed justice.

An open letter to Nadler points to the specific questions in the Mueller report, and states: “The passages are not, in fact, an invitation for Congress to pick up where the Report left off. As you are certainly aware, the legislative branch writes the laws and the executive branch enforces them.”

After providing additional evidence and quotes from Nadler, it states, “Your deliberate misrepresentations to the American public threaten the fundamental separation-of-power doctrine, are dangerous, and need to stop.”

Altering Meaning

The idea is not to alter the information being released, but instead to alter the context of the information. By altering the context, it changes the conclusions people come to after seeing or reading the information being released.

It’s classic psychological warfare at play, meant to alter the way people interpret information.

The legacy news outlets, driven to maintain the warped perceptions formed by these narratives, will latch onto any incident they can find. The more controversy they can stir up and the more chaotic of a picture they can create—regardless of facts—the more agitated the public becomes and the less likely it is that they’ll reflect on the information rationally.

We saw this recently when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) downplayed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, saying that “some people did something.” Trump posted a video on Twitter that showed Omar making her comments alongside footage of the 9/11 attacks. The legacy media reacted by defending Omar and by criticizing Trump of “racism” and “hate.”

Regardless of facts, incidents like these are meant to serve a purpose. The narrative is meant to control public perception and lead it to partisan conclusions, and this can’t work without double standards and half-truths.

With this type of reporting, the idea is to give the public an inaccurate picture of events for the sake of “perception management.”

Crisis and Response

Another focus of these tactics is to create a crisis on the ground and in the public consciousness that allows public leaders to respond with legislation.

When Michael Wolff wrote his book “Fire and Fury.” which attempted to frame the Trump administration as being chaotic, he admitted in his prologue that some sources lied to him, while some contradicted others, and that he used these to settle on “a version of events I believe to be true.”

As legal news website Law and Crime noted, Wolff was “accused of including fiction in what’s presented as a non-fiction book, and he admits that not all of his sources were trustworthy, but he doesn’t specify what’s fact true and what’s false.”

Even though it was a piece of fiction, framed as nonfiction, it was used by legacy news outlets and by politicians to frame a new talking point that Trump was “mentally unfit” for office. This led to headlines such as one from The Atlantic on Jan. 12, 2018, “The Psychiatrist Telling Congress Trump Could Be Involuntarily Committed: A Yale professor says she’s telling lawmakers that the president may actually be ‘dangerous.'”

Democrat leaders used this crisis to introduce the “Stable Genius Act” to make Trump take a psychological evaluation. This served the purpose of perpetuating the illusion of chaos and instability; yet it quickly backfired when Trump did take a mental evaluation that concluded he was both mentally stable and intelligent—reinforcing his “stable genius” line.

Facing the ongoing flurry of false narratives and chaos operations, Trump, overall, has shown uncanny skill in taking these narratives and turning them to his advantage.

And at the end of the day, Trump has shown a strong ability both to endure and deflect these tactics, expose lies as they occur, not fold or retreat when attacked, point out the double standards, and not hesitate to laugh at the ridiculousness of the claims.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Follow Joshua on Twitter: @JoshJPhilipp
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