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In recent years the American media has all but completely dissolved the line between impartiality and personal opinion. We have reached a point where ‘news’ outlets would rather cater to an audience than simply tell the complete and total truth. The truth hurts I know, but sometimes it needs to – that can be its intention. The consequences of this? Mass cognitive dissonance. The term applies to a few scenarios in psychology, but for those not familiar with it here’s what it means in the context I am using:
Cognitive Dissonance – When a person has a core belief or value that is very strong, it’s the feeling of extreme discomfort that occurs when they are presented with information or evidence that contradicts that belief or value. It becomes so important to protect this belief that new evidence cannot be accepted even causing a person to rationalize, ignore, or deny anything that doesn’t fit with this belief or value.
Cognitive dissonance is responsible for the current political atmosphere. The risen awareness of media bias caused the public to search for alternative media outlets which allowed ‘yellow journalism’ (actual fake news) to ascend to its current stature. The inevitable result has been the spreading of misinformation at rates we have never seen due to the viral nature of the internet. ‘Fake news‘ has become so popular because it plays off a person’s cognitive dissonance – which was already instilled by these major media outlets and the extreme partisan politics in this country.
Under these circumstances anything that aligns with a person’s beliefs are viewed in a positive manner making them more susceptible to fallacies and misinformation. To add to this effect – whenever they see something which doesn’t line up with their own beliefs they automatically write it off as ‘bias’ and close their mind to any alternative. This has lead to the ‘echo chambers’ on the right and left we constantly hear pundits refer to. Yet this is also caused when television and radio personalities become so caught up in reaffirming their own arguments they develop a tendency to present partial truths or even misinformation.
Enough is enough. The media needs to stop trying to prove that it’s right and start trying to prove that it’s honest. The moment you allow your actions to be defined by right and left, rather than right and wrong, you’ve officially become a part of the problem. Personal opinion is never to be placed on the same pedestal as facts, it’s to be formed after assessing the information that facts provide. Journalism should always be a reflection of the most accurate evaluation one can make after taking as many facts in to account as possible. However since the inauguration the media has pushed a substantial amount of spin. Let me say this – I am not a Republican, I am a life long Democrat and I did not vote for Donald Trump so I have no bias which would push me to write this. Now please allow me to rationalize the truth behind some of the biggest headlines from this past weekend.
Above photo taken by Deadspin Editor Timothy Burke at 11:12am from ABC News live stream
Above photo taken by Erza Klein from The Vox at 11:04am
Both of these photos above are disingenuous
Now I’m not saying they were initially meant to be so, but regardless of the intent neither of these pictures is a fair representation of the inauguration crowd. They are not ‘fake’ as some have thrown around on the internet either, so let me explain.
Above is the map provided by the Secret Service on how to reach the National Mall for the inauguration, take a real close look at it. The bottom portion underneath of the National Mall has a much smaller proportion of Metro travelers than the top does. Why is that important? Let’s take another look at this photo:
The side where the majority of the people are standing is on the right which would be the bottom side of the map, you know – the one with the least amount of travelers. Reason? because that side was the only side open at the time both photos were taken. You see the parade route on the map above? They shut down Pennsylvania Avenue to prepare for the parade later that day which kept all the people on the top of the map (the majority) from crossing over at that time. They made us form a line at 10th street and wait until it was clear to open the path to allow everyone over. This didn’t happen until about 20 minutes after the pictures above. Matter of fact:
I just so happen to post about this on my Facebook account while waiting, please look at the time of the post. Ironically this is around the same time this was posted:
Yes Gillian, that’s because we weren’t allowed to cross over at that time. Shortly after to make sure my live video was functioning I proceeded to start a live feed while I was still waiting on Pennsylvania Avenue at 11:06am which lasted for minute:
Here’s the actual video where I show part of the line I am describing:
It wasn’t until about 15-20 minutes after this they opened the barricade to let us through and as you see I was at the front of this ridiculously long line. To even reach this point I had to wait at two separate security checkpoints ran by the Secret Service and TSA which were comparable to entering the secured zone of an airport. It took me 4 and a half hours to reach this point only to have to go through another TSA checkpoint before entering the National Mall to witness the inauguration. I finally make it over:
It was 11:46am, and remember I was at the front of the line. Now look at this tweet:
This is extremely significant, looks empty right? Let me show you 1oth Street:
This is where 10th street is! Meaning if the crowd is back to that point she was standing on the last platform. It also means both of the photos are totally bogus. Not only that, but I was in the front of the line. People were running to try to make it in time, I know many more came in behind me as well and there’s about 30-40 minutes from then until Trump’s speech concluded. The most genuine picture I could find was from Earth Cam but it was after the people were already leaving:
Look to the left and you will see the massive amount of people in the grass leaving already. I find it amazing that everyone has all these pictures, yet they’re mainly prior to or after Trump’s time on stage. So no one has any of him at the peak of his speech, or even speaking at all for that matter? Odd. Yet even when viewing the above photo as people are leaving, this crowd looks bigger than the crowds in the other photos. One publication went to use this same Earth Cam and coincidentally cropped out the side that would show where people would be leaving:
Not only did those two original photos I have discussed go viral on the internet, they were placed in publications as well. However I seen the NY Times (one of my top 3 favorite sources for media) actually have the audacity to post the photo and claim it was during “peak density” which is just flat out false!
There were three checkpoints that were mandatory (and took forever) to be able to access the outer restricted area and then the inauguration and parade. The crowd peaked right as Trump’s speech concluded because people were still coming in fast the entire time. According to my own phone records I contacted a friend at 12:21pm right as it was concluding so this would be the opportune time for an accurate photo. I left the restricted area completely at about 1:30pm (an hour after Trump’s speech at the inauguration) and there was still a 1-2 hour wait just to reach the outer zone again (plus another gate for the parade beyond that one). These lines maintained this way until about 5pm so security also kept a whole lot of people from making it in.
However the fact that the media has doubled down on these photos is crazy to me. They ranted on TV about how no one was going to show up for at least a week or two prior to the event and then go through all this trouble over some dumb photos? You guys don’t want the POTUS calling you fake news? Don’t post fake news! If you want to fight against someone why would you play right in to that person’s hand? When you do things like this you discredit real journalism and make everyone look bad. The fact – whether your cognitive dissonance allows you to believe it or not – those pics are not the actual crowd size.
Now I’m not agreeing with Trump’s numbers or his claim that “it was the most viewed inauguration in history” either. It wasn’t, Barack Obama in 2008 was at 1.8 million people. I’m sure we can all agree seeing the 1st African-American president get sworn in was a very historic moment a lot of people wanted to go see. But if the media was being honest, why couldn’t they just post this instead:
Why try so hard to use misleading and disingenuous methods of persuasion when the numbers are right there? The city of Washington DC said they made preparations for around 700-900k. There is no such thing as alternative facts, there’s just facts and nothing else. The fact here is that while pics have circulated to make things seem much worse, the crowd was not bigger than either of Obama’s inaugurations or the Women’s March on Washington (which I also attended). Total Metro for the 20 hour period was 570.5k (about 285k people) and then you have to include people who stayed in DC, people who took a bus in, and every other method. I think the most disturbing part of it all is that neither side is being honest which means people are out here arguing over which lie is true – and that is something everyone should be concerned about.
As soon as I left the restricted area I stumbled right into the protest that turned in to a riot and once again the media has it wrong. But just to verify, this is where CNN said that it had occurred:
My location I gave as I was stuck in the midst of it:
Now I’m here to tell you this – there was not 230 rioters as much of the media has suggested. There was around 10% of that figure actually rioting while the vast majority of everyone else was protesting in the way one would expect. This small group knew what they were doing too. They had numerous bags stuffed with various items like broken up cinder blocks to pelt the police with, ski goggles for pepper spray, gas masks for tear gas, and assorted other items to be used as weapons. They knew what they were planning to do, they seemed a bit too well prepared. The media needs to stop saying that all these people where rioting because once again it just is not true, I seen the whole thing with my own eyes.
No actually most of them don’t (deserve it) and it is truly a shame that all these people who actually broke no laws will have to go through this and more than likely take a conviction for it. I’m not saying it was ‘paid protesters’ or insinuating any sort of conspiracy theories either. I will let everyone else draw their own conclusions. Even for me it was extremely difficult to tell who was who being almost everyone was in black attire. This situation is a perfect personification of the cliche phrases “one bad apple spoils the bunch” and “wrong place, wrong time.”
The next day at the Women’s March on Washington Madonna gave what was initially a great speech until she had a major blunder:
I’ve seen people say that she got cheers for this comment – no she did not. The crowd became very hostile when she made that statement. I wanted to make sure I put it up because I just knew that this story was going to be all over the news. But guess what? After the march it wasn’t a major headline on any site. As a matter of fact, I was able to re-watch the speech on a video uploaded to a non-mainstream outlet. When I went to the major news outlets all I seen was clips praising her speech with this part edited out. I honestly wonder if the internet hadn’t made such a big deal out of this if they even would have pushed the issue at all?
As Louis so eloquently put it – there are no unbiased sources. The real question is what are we going to do as Americans? This site was created as a means to break the mold of bias by allowing every political affiliation to have an unfiltered outlet to voice the concerns and ideas of the demographics that they represent. The media ‘reports’ issues – then we get upset about them and make it political so finally the politicians have to address it from there. They have the ability to steer the conversation in this country so we need to start making them answer for their accountability in regards to what their bias has created. Trump’s inauguration is just one event so imagine all the spin we face on a daily basis. The bottom line is this: research everything as well as you can and as often as possible. Oh, and when you do, please leave your cognitive dissonance at the door.