The Fergus Falls fiction was exposed by two residents of that town, who wrote an article in Medium listing the “top 11 most absurd lies” in Relotius’s piece, which was titled “Where They Pray For Trump on Sundays” and was intended to enlighten Europeans about America’s bizarre Trump voters. …
You enter Fergus Falls through “a dark forest that looks like dragons live in it”? Nope.
The city administrator straps on a Beretta to go to work? Nope.
The same city administrator has never been in a relationship with a woman and has never seen the ocean? Nope. Amusingly, the Fergus Falls residents included in their Medium piece this photo of the city administrator with his live-in girlfriend. At the ocean.
American Sniper is still playing at the local cinema? Nope.
To enter Fergus Falls High School, one “must pass through a security line, through three armored glass doors, and a weapon scanner”? Nope.
Someone put up a sign saying “Mexicans Keep Out”? Nope.
It goes on and on. We aren’t talking about spin or hyperbole here. The reporter made most of his article up out of whole cloth to suit his own prejudices, and those of his readers. …
Officials at Der Spiegel are wringing their hands over how this could happen at a magazine once famed for its scrupulous fact-checking. … Stories are reviewed “sentence by sentence for accuracy and plausibility.”
What is going on here is not fact-checking, but plausibility-checking. Is it surprising that the editors at Der Spiegel found Relotius’s absurd smears against the people of Fergus Falls to be plausible? No. Bias reinforced bias, bigotry confirmed bigotry.
This phenomenon is not restricted to the European press. Here in the U.S., we have seen many instances where news outlets like CNN have reported “facts” that were entirely fabricated. Those “facts” likewise passed the test of plausibility — that is, they tended to make Donald Trump and his supporters look bad. This is, I think, one of the key mechanisms through which leftist bias is institutionalized, and the press repeatedly embarrasses itself by printing falsehoods.
Fake, fake, fake. Just constructs of the PC narrative, fed to us as fact.
Gefälschte Nachrichten, by the Z Blog.
That’s why no one at Der Spiegel, or anywhere else in the German media, noticed the fraudulence of Claas Relotius. He was writing the things his coevals and superiors said at luncheons, cocktail parties and in the office. His story about slack-jawed yokels in the American heartland ticked all the boxes popular with the left-wing cultural outlook. He was not sent there to report on the place. He was sent there to confirm what his employers already knew about Middle American and Trump voters.
This is why Western media is something worse than propaganda. The person hired by the state or hired by the corporate marketing department has self-awareness. They know their job is to polish the apple of their superiors. The tricks they employ to do that are done with a knowledge and forethought. The guy telling the public that his employer, the pesticide company, is deeply concerned about the environment does so knowing full well that no one believes him, including his family.
The media is a different thing. They really believe their own nonsense. They think they are part of a special class of human, a priestly class that not only reports facts to the public, but provides moral instruction. The mass media is so intoxicated by their own self-righteousness, they lack the ability to question their own actions. When Claas Relotius came back from the bush, reporting exactly what his bosses knew was the case, they had no reason to question it. It was too good to check.