In the battle against fake news, we must also be aware of what is misleading news and clickbait headlines. Case in point, the headline from atop the Newsmax website on February 9 2021, printed in red “emergency” letters for attention, hammering at the fact POTUS Joe Biden, in a “Power play”, is firing the US Attorney’s that were installed by former President Donald Trump.
The intent of the story is true. What has been buried and sensationalized in the content, and the context, is our focal point.
In reality, the story is no big deal whatsoever, certainly not critical headline news. As noted deep within the story, which is not Newsmax reporting but re-worded from the original CNN report, “In 2017, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked 46 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys to take their leave.” US Attorney’s being dumped when a new administration comes to power is absolutely nothing new. Also, what Newsmax failed to include in their story is the fact Jeff Sessions also dumped most of the Obama era AG’s immediately. In the Biden era case, they are being asked to resign, but thus far none have been told they have to vacate their offices right away. The Sessions order was, in many instances, a “resign and get out right now” command.
This is no more a “power play” than what happens every time Administrations change. New regimes are keenly aware of loyalties, which play a major role in every government. Newsmax, however, will not point out the similarities because it then deflates the level of news “shock and awe”. In contrast, the original CNN report carries the proper “matter of fact” headline without the added sensationalized bias.
Newsmax, in order to feed their relatively miniscule audience, cannot rely on mere facts. The carnival atmosphere is what works for them, and in the process, this cheapens the honest news value and points to a desire to control the narrative instead of simply report the news. Then again, Newsmax is not a true news platform, more of a collage of opinionated hucksters spewing whatever will garner them the most attention. Of course, their desire to be part of the misinformation bullhorn is on the verge of costing them, and others, more than a few dollars in legal costs and penalties. Read my commentary on the Smartmatic and Dominion legal actions for background.
The devil is always in the details. In a time when fake news outlets such as Newsmax are being called on the legal carpet for disinformation, propaganda and outright falsehoods, the news consumer is charged more than ever with researching their news, and refusing to be swayed by clickbait headlines.
Newsmax certainly isn’t alone in their need to catch your attention with something flashy. However, their hyperbolic manner of delivery, without question stolen from the decades long success of bird cage liner such as “The National Enquirer”, is just the doorway opening to their desire to keep readers and viewers heading down a path of well planned and, what they hope is profitable, propaganda.