Did Twitter elect Donald Trump?
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It's one of the hundreds of media topics mulled at a world gathering
Twitter's rapid dissemination of bogus conspiracy theories and slanders was central to Donald Trump's election, according to a new academic analysis. Or, wait, maybe it wasn't, according to the same analysis.
You'd have to be in San Francisco today and through the weekend to be sure, as the American Political Science Association annual meeting plays out. Thousands of academics, ranging from A-list stars to doctoral students looking to make connections and find work, are there from around the world. They're tackling many hundreds of sessions on subjects big and small, including the media.
There are many dozens of papers and panels merely with "media" as a central organizing theme. While scanning only a small percentage of the summaries last night, I was able to watch most of the Ohio State-Indiana football game, Cubs-Braves baseball, Yanks-Red Sox baseball and a U.S. Open women's tennis match between an American and Tunisian.
Sharon Meraz of the University of Illinois at Chicago will inspect the "the role of Twitter in affording the spread of fake news across the entire arc of the 2016 US presidential election. This study builds on the emerging and developing dual theoretical premises of networked gatekeeping and networked framing through examining the subprocesses of contagion, virality and memetics as they relate to the spread of fake news on the social network of Twitter."
Its impact? "It is unclear how Twitter created and affirmed the spread of fake news reports, and it is important to understand the role of this network uniquely and relatively to other social network sites."
"Measuring the Erosion of Local Political News" from Danny Hayes of George Washington University and Jennifer Lawless of American University (both big-time) inspects how "The local news environment in the United States has withered in recent years."
Despite conventional wisdom about the resulting growth of less knowledgeable citizens, they'll contend that real understanding of the media changes is incomplete and outline how they're examining the volume of newspaper coverage of governors, legislatures and municipalities in 50 metro area to examine changes in the news environment and the impact on political engagement.
Doesn't float your boat? What about "Cable News Coverage of Refugees 2011-2015: Who, How Much, and Why It Matters" via Shawna Brandle of Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York?
And, if this media stuff is too pedestrian for you, try "Reconsidering Ontology: Hegel without Metaphysics," "Legitimacy in Knowing: Performative Aspects of Thinkers in Kojève's Politics" or "Philosophy and Prudence in Hans Morgenthau's Political Realism."
You have a few spare hours? Here's the easy way to navigate the program of an academic bacchanal.
"Glenn Beck announced that he laid off a sizable portion of the workforce at his production company and conservative-leaning news outlet on Thursday, citing the "structural challenges facing media companies today." (Poynter)
"Not to be cold," wrote Daily Caller, "but Beck’s media empire has been imploding for awhile now."
There's no ideological bias in the marketplace destruction. The Village Voice, once the epitome of a great alternative print weekly, is showing the door to 13 of 17 union employees. (The New York Times) It had just disclosed the death of the print edition.
Big August for tech
"Investor enthusiasm ahead of the launch of the new iPhone lifted Apple shares to a new record high, and helped make technology the best performing sector of the US market in August." (Financial Times)
The ignominious end of David Fahrenthold's career?
Yes, yes, the guy sort of revolutionized the use of social media in reporting. He won a Pulitzer Prize. He's been a bete noire for a deceitful president. He's got the reputation as a terrific person. And, yeah, you'd probably want to clone him if you were an editor.
And the native Houstonian and fellow Houstonians at the paper decided to send doughnuts to the hard-working counterparts at the Houston Chronicle. He called some place and charged it to his card. Poynter's Kristen Hare detailed the lovely gesture and affectionate response. (Poynter)
But then, alas, alack, this correction:
"An earlier version of this story reported that Fahrenthold's wife denied the doughnut charge. He tells us he got the story wrong. She got a text that the charge had been denied, She did not deny it herself. He regrets the error."
Can he survive this? Is this his sugar coated Waterloo? Will he be soon begging for a copy editing job at an oil industry lobbying firm in D.C.? Nah. Even in an inconsequential misstep, he proves an honorable soul. No Arpaio-like pardon is necessary.
OK, a name change for our "Morning babble" feature at the suggestion of reader Glenn Dyer of Sydney, Australia. So new name, same incisive and revelatory (not) summary of homogenous morning cable news content.
"Trump & Friends" opened amid floodwaters in Rosenberg, Texas as it focused on the damage of Harvey and the strengthening of Irma, which could also make landfall as a so-called Category 5 storm. (Its weather person even opted for a respected European tropical storm model to suggest the looming danger, so much for the usual red, white and blue nationalism)
CNN's "New Day's" Alisyn Camerota continued co-hosting from Houston, with an Army Corps of Engineers official offering a primer on controlled releases but warned that another big rain from Irma could be disastrous for the city. With their backdrop a neighborhood of single family homes now presumably mostly deserted with all the standing water inside, the official said at best it would take weeks for the water to drain.
At MSNBC's "Morning Joe," it was the usual script of Trump, Trump, Trump and more Trump, with issues including his relationship with his chief of staff, the "chaos" generated by ongoing tweets, "making a fool of himself," his 34 percent Gallup approval rating and his still taking calls from Steve Bannon.
And, as usual, its reliance on newspaper disclosures was deep, with The Washington Post providing much of this morning's talking points via a piece filled with White House factions' grousing, mostly about Chief of Staff John Kelly. (The Washington Post)
ESPN's "Film Room"
College football's opening night featured No. 2-ranked Ohio State at Indiana. The game was on ESPN but also on two other ESPN channels, including ESPN2, where you watched six experts, including prominent former coaches, watching and analyzing the game in real time.
You did feel like a fly on the wall of a private meeting (and some of it got way more technical and "inside" than a normal broadcast). And there were far more quick replays and rewinding of video to make points about technique, execution and tactics.
"Trying to throw that fade flat to the boundary"…"if you're on the sideline, you're working the referee hard"…"They got a mismatch and went to it on the back side"…"At some point here, there's going to be a double move"…"They're running empty (backfield) and still going down the field"…"They're playing with a Head-Up Six technique"…"Look, Ohio State is misaligned!"
Its bloodlessness was its allure. If it had shortcomings, it was the unceasing nature of the analysis. It was a bit like a three-hour Trigonometry class. There was no relief via more personal tales about the participants. It was a window onto how coaches, without a need to sugarcoat and thus verging on the cut-throat, watch a game.
How the media frames deadly attacks
Is there any basic difference in how the recent attacks in Barcelona and Charlottesville were covered? A research trio suggests that, yes, that in those two incidents and others "only the attacks perpetrated by Muslims were routinely called terrorism."
The effort comes from Bryan Arva, a political science doctoral student at Penn State; Muhammed Idris, a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University; and Fouad Pervez, a partner at Blind Fox Analytics. They outlined their notions on The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog and more of their actual research is here.
Amazon to pay gamers
"Amazon.com Inc. will pay commissions to gamers, artists, chefs and others on its Twitch Interactive video-streaming service for selling products to their fans through its retail site." (Bloomberg)
"Think of it as video-game broadcasters hosting virtual Tupperware parties. Except they’re more likely to hawk headsets and consoles than salad spinners. At least for now."
Tit for tat with Hillary emails, Trump-Russia?
Does the conservative press, notably Fox (hello, Sean Hannity), persist with the Hillary Clinton email stories largely to distract from Trump's Russia mess?
Firebrand new Fox contributor Tomi Lahren told Hannity, "“How about we make a deal. How about when the mainstream media stops covering Russia day in and day out, maybe we can drop the Hillary email scandal. But until then, I think I’m going to stay on it.” (Yahoo)
Missing the forest for the trees
The lackadaisical White House press corps is missing a story just a few feet outside the James Brady Briefing Room.
"Saying they could 'live out here in the wild for months' if they had to, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. reportedly spent Wednesday rounding up supplies of comic books and candy bars as they prepared to hide out that night from special prosecutors in their makeshift White House Rose Garden fort."
We thus urge Robert Mueller to check out The Onion.
That's it for the week. It's a traditional Labor Day weekend of, ah, kids soccer in Aurora, Illinois. First of at least four games for the Chicago City Soccer Club U9 Red team is 9 a.m. tomorrow. Eliot Warren is expected to play goal (sporting new lime green goalie shirt) and central defender — and perhaps kill the ample time between games (little does he know) at the DuPage Children's Museum. Happy holiday.