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‘Trump TV’ Will Participate In White House Press Briefings

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters. 

Right Side Broadcasting Network’s (RSBN) announcement that they will be participating in White House press briefings is raising new questions about whether President-elect Donald Trump intends to bypass traditional media as President and create a press corps more favorable to his administration.

During their live coverage of President-elect Donald Trump’s “Thank You” rally in North Carolina on December 6, the show’s host Joe Seales announced that the network is “going to become a 24-hour network very soon.” Seales also said the network will “be in the White House” and “be at the press briefings” during the Trump administration:

According to Foreign Policy magazine, to get accredited to report in the White House, “a reporter first needs to be approved for a congressional press pass by the Standing Committee of Correspondents, elected by accredited reporters.” RSBN must also meet a number of other requirements along with their application to be credentialed as a reporter in the White House:

Among other requirements, congressional reporters must demonstrate that they work for a publication whose “principal business is the daily dissemination of original news and opinion of interest to a broad segment of the public” and is “editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government.” The White House also requires an additional Secret Service background check.

Trump could, however, circumvent press rules and procedures by allowing a non-credentialed reporter to ask questions during the briefings, which is exactly what happened in the last Republican administration. Jeff Gannon of the right-wing Talon News was “admitted on a day-to-day basis” into the White House briefing room where he was “repeatedly allowed to ask — usually friendly” questions to the Bush administration.

It is unclear whether RSBN has applied or meet any of the standards set by the rules governing the press galleries, but their relationship with Trump makes their announcement problematic.

The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers has described Right Side Broadcasting as “the unofficial version of Trump TV since last summer,” noting the Trump campaign had “teamed up with Right Side to produce pre- and post-debate analysis shows that streamed on Trump’s Facebook Page.” Borchers additionally noted Right Side Broadcasting CEO Joe Seales had previously told Reddit users to address mainstream media outlets by “continu[ing] to discredit them.”

The announcement also comes as right-wing media figures are urging Trump to exclude mainstream news outlets from press briefings. Fox host Sean Hannity has repeatedly questioned why journalists from CNN, NBC, Politico, and the New York Times “have a seat in the White House press room,” claimed “it’s time to reevaluate the press and maybe change the traditional relationship with the press and the White House,” and urged the Trump administration to get rid of the White House press office and “start over.”

Given Trump’s long adversarial relationship with the press, it appears he is taking this advice to heart and attempting to push out mainstream journalists in favor of reporters made in his own image.

IMAGE: U.S. Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump is shown on video monitors as he speaks live to the crowd from New York at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Fake News Outperformed Real News On Facebook At Height Of 2016 Campaign

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters. 

An analysis by BuzzFeed News found that during the 2016 election, fake news stories generated more engagement on Facebook than did the top election articles from major news outlets.

BuzzFeed’s analysis comes amid growing criticism of Facebook’s lack of effective action against fake news. It was recently revealed that Facebook shelved plans to combat the epidemic of fake news stories due to fear of backlash from conservatives because the move would have “disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds.”

That fear of conservative backlash resulted in further fake news stories, which then generated “more engagement” on Facebook than did “the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others,” a Buzzfeed analysis has found:

In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found.

During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

[…]

This new data illustrates the power of fake election news on Facebook, and comes as the social network deals with criticism that it allowed false content to run rampant during the 2016 presidential campaign. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently it was “a pretty crazy idea” to suggest that fake news on Facebook helped sway the election. He later published a post saying, “We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here.”

Amid this criticism, The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey interviewed Paul Horner, a “38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire.” Horner described the rise of fake news in 2016 and said the Trump campaign even helped push it:

You’ve been writing fake news for a while now — you’re kind of like the OG Facebook news hoaxer. Well, I’d call it hoaxing or fake news. You’d call it parody or satire. How is that scene different now than it was three or five years ago? Why did something like your story about Obama invalidating the election results (almost 250,000 Facebook shares, as of this writing) go so viral?

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.

You mentioned Trump, and you’ve probably heard the argument, or the concern, that fake news somehow helped him get elected. What do you make of that?

My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.

(Twitter via Mediaite)

Why? I mean — why would you even write that?

Just ’cause his supporters were under the belief that people were getting paid to protest at their rallies, and that’s just insane. I’ve gone to Trump protests — trust me, no one needs to get paid to protest Trump. I just wanted to make fun of that insane belief, but it took off. They actually believed it.

I thought they’d fact-check it, and it’d make them look worse. I mean that’s how this always works: Someone posts something I write, then they find out it’s false, then they look like idiots. But Trump supporters — they just keep running with it! They never fact-check anything! Now he’s in the White House. Looking back, instead of hurting the campaign, I think I helped it. And that feels [bad].

The entire interview is worth reading.

It’s clear now that Facebook must take concrete steps to combat fake news — regardless of the conservative or liberal criticism the company might face. Join Media Matters in asking Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to fix their fake news problem by signing our petition.

IMAGE: A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Samsung S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic