Reports of Comey, Spicer hiding in drapes and bushes demonstrates media’s disregard for truth

Greg Nash
The media’s No. 1 goal in 2017 is not to be accurate, measured or professional, but to go viral to reap all the benefits that go along with it.
Even if that means reporting information that isn’t accurate. 
{mosads}Exhibits A and B for Friday’s lesson involve a report that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hid in bushes to escape from reporters, and a separate incident in which former FBI Director James Comey allegedly tried to hide from President Trump by blending in with some drapes.
Creates quite the visual, doesn’t it? 
A White House press secretary cowering in fear in the White House scrubs with his team hoping he doesn’t have to take any more questions from reporters staked out nearby on the White House.
An FBI director who, at 6 feet 8 inches tall, could play center at any Division I college, wanting to publicly avoid shaking hands with the man his bureau in investigating.
In Spicer’s case, the story originated in a Washington Post report that said he was huddling “in the bushes.” The Post later corrected, well after the story went viral, that Spicer was “among the bushes.” Spicer was attempting to get a quick huddle with his team and was trying to evade reporters at that moment, yes, but hiding in the bushes was not part of the plan.
But that’s the funny thing about corrections, as a lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on, or so the old saying goes. And in the world of social media, a lie can go around the world and into everyone’s social media feed a million times before the truth can get its pants on.

Not a big deal though, right? Who cares if Spicer was in the bushes or among them? A semantic argument, nothing more, we move on.

Except we don’t move on.

Saturday Night Live falls in love with the original Spicer-in-the-bushes narrative and turns it into its opening skit of the night watched by millions live and tens of millions more on social media.

Now we have a double-viral situation based on what the president would call “fake news.” But we’ve seen this movie before with Sarah Palin and Tina Fey, where the latter said the former declared, “I can see Russia from my house.” 
But Americans are smart enough not to believe Palin would say something so silly, aren’t they? Nope. In fact, 87 percent of those surveyed in October of 2008 by Zogby thought that quote came from Palin herself.

“I can see Russia from my house,” follows Palin to this day, just as Spicer’s legacy will be him (or Melissa McCarthy as him) scared and hiding.

Here’s the best part: The Washington Post has run stories since celebrating the fact that its inaccurate story was made into an SNL skit. And even today, the paper ran the headline, “Spicer in the bushes. Now, Comey in the drapes. What is this, ‘Veep’?

Yes, Comey in the drapes. That’s based on a New York Times story based on an account by Lawfare Benjamin Wittes that the then-FBI Director didn’t want to be called out by Trump during a public ceremony.

“Mr. Comey — who is 6 feet 8 inches tall and was wearing a dark blue suit that day — told Mr. Wittes that he tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room, in the hopes that Mr. Trump would not spot him and call him out,” Wittes claimed.

The curtains were decidedly a different shade of blue. If Comey really didn’t want to be there, he could have said he had more pressing business to attend to with few noticing.

But now the story is out there in a big way well beyond the Times and into the viral-sphere.

The Washington Post is happy because its false exclusive got the Saturday Night Live treatment.

Saturday Night Live is happy because tens of million of people have watched the McCarthy sketch based on a false narrative.

Trump haters at home are happy because their views of Spicer and the administration, in general, are satisfied the way Chinese food temporarily satisfies an appetite for an hour or two.


The truth?

Sound journalism?
That’s so 20th century.
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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