So, normally when I read a headline that catches my eye, the first thing I do is check the source. If it is a normally unreliable and/or sensationalist site, I’ll move on. Especially if it is the only source I’ve seen for said story. So, when I noticed the headline “Donald Trump’s Phone Conversation With the Leader of Pakistan Was Reckless and Bizarre”, and saw that it was from Time (not known for such provocative headlines), I was curious. Certainly if an event had taken place on the world stage that involved the President-Elect and it was both “reckless” and “bizarre”, the liberal media would be having a field day with it…calling for him to step down before even taking office and such. But this was the only place I was seeing this story – and even that was not headline news. So what gives?
I fell victim to ‘click-bait’ and read through the story. What I found is part of the ongoing problem we are having in this country with “fake news”. Let me explain. The first form of organized, professional journalism in this country was newspapers. You can certainly argue that they’ve had political leanings and biases from the start, and you’d be correct, but they did one thing well: The clearly delineated between “news” and “opinion” – that’s where we get the term “Op/Ed” for “Opinion/Editorial” and it was often a separate section of the paper. That line has blurred, never more so now with the advent of the internet. If I write an opinion piece for whatever web site, it shows the headline, my byline and the name of the outlet – say “Time.com”. Most people don’t look any further – thereby confusing “Op/Ed” pieces with legitimate news stories.
Which brings me back to this article. Ultimately, I have to assume that this is indeed an “Op/Ed” piece, but I have to do so by looking at he facts and comparing them to the rest of the media’s response to those facts. In this instance, the writer takes umbrage with a particular line (from an alleged transcript of the phone conversation provided to Time by the Pakistani authorities) in which Trump says he was “ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.” He reportedly added: “You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way.”. Hmmm. That was the “reckless” and “bizarre” behavior? Really? Last I checked, Pakistan was an “ally” of the U.S. Granted, there is a whole host of problems with that relationship (if you remember when we killed BinLaden in Pakistan we neglected to mention it to the Pakistani’s because we were afraid of leaks in their military), however, is it ‘bizarre’ to try and cultivate a relationship with a nuclear power in an unstable region that is being strongly courted by Russia and China? I think it would be Reckless and Bizarre to do otherwise….don’t you?
Once again, the moral of this story is simple: Don’t be fooled by the headlines. It’s not easy to put all of the pieces together for yourself some times, but if you just believe the headlines, even if you allow them to just shape your overall positive/negative attitudes, you are doing yourself a grave injustice and falling in to the trap they’ve set for all of us.