In the age of COVID, it’s hard to get through a full hour of TV news without hearing somebody talk about the worrying rise of ”misinformation.” Unfortunately, media’s definition of misinformation includes things that may not be false at all, but are instead just things that they don’t want people talking about.
In media-speak, “combating misinformation” does not mean debate; it entails to a lazy combination of dismissal and censorship.
Case in point: Hunter Biden’s laptop. This was a pretty bad story for then-candidate Biden, and by extension, it was a bad story for his friends in the media. Then, in came the “experts” to save the day. A handful of former intelligence officials who frequently made guest appearances on CNN and MSNBC penned a letter claiming that the whole laptop story had “all the hallmarks” of a Russian disinformation campaign — which is a fancy of saying there was no evidence to prove that it was, but it sure seemed like maybe it could be.
The Director of National Intelligence and the FBI disagreed with this baseless claim by a bunch of former government employees. But the media, seeing the letter for the political tool that it was, ran with it and spent several weeks warning everyone who’d listen that the entire Hunter Biden laptop story was a fake Russian conspiracy theory.
That’s how the misinformation game works. When inconvenient news stories pop up, the media go expert shopping and find people who’re willing to go on TV and call those stories “misinformation.” Social media companies follow suit and slap warning labels on related news articles, or even remove them entirely.
The whole ordeal has very little to do with protecting people from dangerous falsehoods. It’s about narrative control.