Ben Shapiro’s conservative news website The Daily Wire has trounced every other publisher on Facebook in 2021, in terms of engagement metrics such as likes and comments that legacy news sites don’t come anywhere close to matching. TV ratings for August, meanwhile, show Fox News once again beating its cable network rivals like CNN. And Substack is proving a durable publishing platform for right-leaning media figures like Glenn Greenwald, who no longer have to find a way to operate within the strictures of a mainstream media ecosystem.
None of this, of course, is happening in a vacuum. New data from the Pew Research Center shows that trust in the mainstream media among Republicans continues to essentially fall off a cliff. And it’s not as though those disaffected news consumers don’t have anywhere to turn, in search of alternatives that are more palatable to them.
Against the backdrop of having more news and opinion than ever now presented through an avowedly partisan lens, the results of the new Pew Research Center survey show, among other things:
- That in the years since 2016 — does anyone even need to be reminded why that year is a benchmark? — the percentage of Republicans who say they have at least “some” trust in national news organizations has plummeted from 70% that year to just 35% now. Even the decline from late 2019 until this year is precipitous, and shows the percentage among Republicans dropping another 14 points, from 49%.
- On the other side of the equation, no surprise, trust in media among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents remains strong. Almost eight in 10 Democrats, as well as independents who claim to lean Democratic, say they have either “a lot” or “some” trust in information from national news organizations.
The partisan spread between these two groups (35% among Republicans, compared to 78% among Democrats who say they trust the national news) is the largest it’s been since the Pew researchers have asked this question over the last five years. The gap gets even wider when the partisan dial is turned up even more. Among liberal Democrats compared to the most conservative Republicans?
No surprise, even fewer of the latter say they have faith in the national news media (just 30%) compared to 83% for the former.
“Overall,” according to Pew, “about six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) say they have at least some trust in the information that comes from national news organizations. While still a majority, this is the smallest share over the past five years this question was asked.
“When it was last asked in late 2019, 65% expressed at least some trust. And far fewer (12%) express that they have ‘a lot’ of trust in the information that comes from national news organizations.”
By way of putting all this into some historical context: This phenomenon can also be weighed against the backdrop of a specific news narrative that will be increasingly prevalent in the coming days. Specifically, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Already, there’s been a predictability to the news coverage timed to this sobering milestone moment. Which marks two decades having passed since hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 Americans that day. It cannot go unmentioned, for example, that the abrupt and chaotic departure of the US from Afghanistan in recent days marks a dramatic turnaround from the military response that was launched 20 years ago. Nor should the controversial surveillance apparatus that was stood up in the wake of 9/11 be forgotten.
The major streamers, like Netflix and Apple TV+, have released slickly packaged and compelling deep dives into that tragic day in the US and the events surrounding it. Like Netflix’s Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror — a 5-episode limited series that not only unpacks the events of the day itself but also probes world events that set the stage for it, as well as the aftermath.
The results of the Pew survey, meanwhile, suggest a profound transformation in the US of today, compared to the one that existed on 9/11.
Consider, for example, that there have been multiple days in the US this year when the country has seen a level of death from COVID-19 equivalent to the loss of life on 9/11. And yet, the country remains fractured and somewhat regional in its response to the pandemic, with nowhere near the national unity on display in the immediate wake of 9/11. There is pervasive mistrust of authority figures, such as White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci. And a not insignificant slice of the country regards agencies like the CDC as craven affiliates of a political operation, rather than a source of experts dispensing sound and scientific advice. And, of course, trust in the national mainstream media is nowhere near what it once was.
The part of this story about trust that the mainstream media almost never grapples with, however, is its own culpability herein. Let’s take Rolling Stone magazine’s story in recent days about supposed ivermectin overdoses causing chaos in a hospital as just one example.
In the lead-up to its publication, this anti-parasitic drug has been championed in right wing circles, presumably as a way to obviate the need for a coronavirus vaccine. Even though the FDA and CDC have urged Americans that ivermectin is not an acceptable treatment for COVID-19. “People are purchasing various highly concentrated animal ivermectin drug formulations such as ‘pour-on,’ injectable, paste and ‘drench’ that are intended for horses, cattle and sheep, and taking these drugs has made some people very sick,” the FDA warned in a letter to veterinarians and other recipients.
Nevertheless, it has champions such as comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan, who disclosed his own positive case of COVID-19 a few days ago. In a social media post to his followers, he added that he’d been given a mix of drugs to fight off the virus, including ivermectin. And that he now feels much better.
This brings us to the Rolling Stone story. On Friday, the magazine ran a story that went viral about Oklahoma hospitals being overwhelmed with ivermectin overdose cases. And that the volume of patients was so bad, it was causing other patients to get backed up in their own wait for treatment. The story relied on testimony from Dr. Jason McElyea, who’d given some comments to a local news station.
Other mainstream outlets that picked up this story included Newsweek, The Guardian and Insider. Rolling Stone, however, has since attached an “update” to the story that basically undercuts the whole thing — and has given conservatives the opportunity to have a field day with what it sees as another example of media bias. The update reads, in part:
“One hospital has denied Dr. Jason McElyea’s claim that ivermectin overdoses are causing emergency room backlogs and delays in medical care in rural Oklahoma, and Rolling Stone has been unable to independently verify any such cases as of the time of this update … Following widespread publication of his statements, one hospital that the doctor’s group serves, NHS Sequoyah, said its ER has not treated any ivermectin overdoses and that it has not had to turn away anyone seeking care.”
One bad story, it should go without saying, doesn’t implicate the entirety of the mainstream media. But it’s a virtual certainty that examples like this one, over and over again, will keep sending news consumers fleeing for alternative information channels, complaining all the while of bias and untrustworthiness in the mainstream media. With the only thing likely to change in any meaningful way is that this problem will just keep getting worse.
Elon Musk’s X Slapped With Trademark Lawsuit From Social Media Ad Agency
That ad agency, X Social Media, sued X. Corp in Florida on Monday, arguing that consumers are likely to to confused their ad services with the Elon Musk
The complaint, which was first reported by Bloomberg Law, states that X Social Media, LLC “has continuously used the X Social Media Mark in commerce since at least early 2016,” and that the Elon Musk-owned company was aware of X Social Media’s pre-existing rights to the trademark its brand overhaul.
In the filing, X Social Media — an advertising agency service geared towards law firms — claims that it has invested over $400 million in advertising, $2 million of which was dedicated to brand awareness, and that X. Corp’s name change will be “financially and strategically harmful” to the Florida-based agency.
“In a short time, X Corp. has wielded its social media clout, marketing resources, and overall national notoriety to dominate consumer perception of its ‘X’ mark,” the complaint states.
It is seeking an order that would block X Corp. from continuing to use the X name and requested an unspecified amount of money damages.
Elsewhere on Monday, Musk was also sued for libel after falsely claiming Ben Brody, 22, a recent graduate of the University of Riverside, California, was a government agent posing as a neo-Nazi. The lawsuit accused the billionaire of making “reckless false statements” and “promotion of disinformation,” and seeks $1 million in damages.
Texas firm Farrar & Ball attorney Mark Bankston, Brody’s legal counsel, wrote in an X post that Brody and his family were doxxed as a result of the conspiracy theory Musk promoted on his site, and had to flee their home during “weeks of terror.” Brody, he wrote, has a reputation now “catastrophically damaged” by the wealthiest man on the planet and has suffered mental anguish “at the crucial moment when he exits college and enters his career path.”
Despite his lawyers being informed of Brody’s defamation claim in August, Bankston has said that Musk declined to either retract his unfounded accusation or apologize for it.
Sources – James Harden, seeking trade, not at 76ers media day
CAMDEN, N.J. — It took nearly four minutes Monday morning for Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey to say James Harden‘s name. But, after rattling off the names of several other players and speaking confidently about the team’s chances to contend this season, Morey turned to the matter of Harden’s absence from media day.
“I want to address James Harden,” Morey said, sitting on a dais next to coach Nick Nurse, both wearing matching blue blazers to kick off the interviews. “He’s not here today. He continues to seek a trade, and we’re working with his representation to resolve that in the best way for the 76ers and, hopefully, all parties.”
Harden’s decision not to come Monday was the latest push in a summer full of them to fulfill his desire to be dealt to the LA Clippers. But although the two teams have talked recently, there’s been no traction on a deal, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Sixers’ asking price remains high, and the Clippers don’t seem inclined to bid against themselves in a marketplace that is cool to unloading significant trade assets for Harden, sources told Wojnarowski.
As a result, Harden is still a member of the 76ers — and the franchise clearly would love for him to return and help in what the 76ers still believe is a group good enough to compete for a championship, even in the wake of the moves the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics made to get Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, respectively, over the past few days.
“Who said they surpassed us?” reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid responded to a reporter. “We still gotta go out there and compete. You can do whatever you want off the court, but you still gotta go out there and put the ball in the hoop.
“I believe that any team that I’m on, we always gonna have a chance. Just need to be a little bit lucky. Just need to stay healthy — be healthy and stay healthy — and, you know, as a team, just come together.”
Harden exercised his $35.6 million contract option for the season in June with hopes of the Sixers trading him before camp, but Morey has shown a willingness to wait out Harden and try to get him reinvested in the team.
To that end, the message over and over again from the 76ers was that they hope they can get Harden to come back and take part alongside them. Harden on Friday was paid the 25% of his contract that he was scheduled to receive by Sunday, sources said, after already having received the 25% payment he was scheduled to receive on July 1.
It remains unclear when, or if, Harden is going to rejoin the team, which is flying to Fort Collins on Monday afternoon before holding training camp at Colorado State University for the next several days.
Morey, when asked if Harden would be fined for missing Monday, said the team would “treat James like every other player on the roster as required by the CBA.”
In a call with league and union officials during the NBA’s investigation into the comments, Harden insisted he would be fulfilling his contractual obligations with the Sixers should he remain without a trade, sources said.
Morey, who has previously had a close relationship with Harden going back to when he acquired him as the general manage of the Houston Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder just before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season, admitted this summer was difficult for him given how it’s all played out in the public sphere.
“I would say it was hard,” Morey said. “I think there are many people who worked with him for some time, but I’ve been right there with anyone else.
“Look, I think he’s a heck of a basketball player. I like him as a person. It was hard, I think, that he felt like that was the right course of action for him at that point. What else can I say? I think he’s a tremendous player that will help us if he chooses to be here. And, right now, that’s not where he wants to be.”
Morey did, however, push back on Harden’s assertion that he is a liar.
“I don’t think I have to interpret it,” Morey said. “He said what he meant. I think that was well reported on.
“I haven’t responded to that because I think it falls flat on its face. In 20 years of working in the league, always followed through on everything. Every top agent knows that. Everyone in the league knows. You can’t operate in this job without that. So, you know, privately I’ve appreciated all the key people in the league reaching out to me and knowing obviously that’s not true. But like I said before, obviously it was disappointing that he chose to handle it that way.”
Now, Philadelphia begins preparations for training camp — its first under Nurse, who replaced Doc Rivers earlier this summer — unsure of when — or if — its star point guard will join them. To that end, Nurse said he and the team will be preparing for both possibilities and will address them as things unfold.
“For me, it’s, it’s obviously we’ve kind of got Plan A, Plan B, right? We’ve gotta get the team ready regardless. We’re expecting him to show up.
“He shows up? We go. If he doesn’t? We go. There’s two ways to look at it. And we proceed and we really get to work in building our foundation of what we want to do, getting all our principles in, all the things that we want to do, and play the style of play we want to play regardless.”
Perhaps the best summation of the situation, however, came from Harden’s longtime friend and teammate P.J. Tucker, who was asked whether he thought Harden would be back anytime soon.
“That ain’t for me to answer,” Tucker said with a laugh and a shake of his head. “I have no idea.
“I hope they figure it out soon. But if not, it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.”
James Harden skips 76ers media day to take trade demand to next level – SB Nation
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