SMELLing through the crap

While the Los Angeles Times is a very credible news source, sometimes it can be necessary to ensure that us citizen journalists know that the news we trust every day still has it’s “truthiness” (thank you Stephen Colbert). Thus, when I was given this article (Trump’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud trip up White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer) I went to work.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Before I even read the article, I looked over the site. I had to make sure it wasn’t a fake news site disguised to look like a real one, as has—rather successfully—achieved. Thankfully, it was actually the LA Times website in both URL and general page design, so that was a step in the right direction.

Next, I checked out the writer, Michael A. Memoli. Since he is a writer for the LA Times, he already has some credibility, but I went to his biography page to check it out. It reads, “Michael A. Memoli has worked in the Los Angeles Times’ Washington, D.C., bureau since 2010, where he now covers the White House and the 2016 presidential campaign. He has spent the last 11 years covering national politics based in D.C.” This gives him a lot more credibility, since he has experience as a journalist with the LA Times, as well as covering politics and this specific election cycle and the current administration. Although I cannot deny that looking at his name and picture I thought it was slightly faked, but he has authored many articles about Washington and politics, and although he does seem to have a more liberal slant, he definitely has experience in the field.

Courtesy of LA Times
Courtesy of LA Times

Now, finally onto the article. I looked at his sources. He has no anonymous or unnamed sources, and uses quotes from high ranking Washington officials. He does say “a reporter” in the beginning of the article, but that was most likely because he couldn’t catch a name, not that the reporter wanted to remain incognito. Other than that, he directly quotes Sean Spicer, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

He uses these quotes from Spicer as his evidence, so there is no question about where he gets his proof for the things he says. However, Memoli, at the beginning of the article, says “induced further heartburn for the nascent administration Tuesday, as his press secretary struggled to explain and defend the unproven claim.” This is a heavy slant for a supposedly news article, as the editorializing is evident. I looked at his other articles as well, and they all have a similar leaning as well. Unfortunately, this is a bad sign for this article being 100% crap-proof.

It does not get better from there. If we look at what he did not include in the article, it seems like quite a lot. He completely left out the entire rest of the press briefing. He didn’t include what else was discussed in the briefing, really only including a select 30 seconds of what he wanted.

So, he tried. And for the most part, it was a good article. Yet, it does appear that this is not going further than the echo chambers it was aimed for.


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