Mainstream Media's Veil Has Been Lifted And It Isn't Pretty

“We have…alternative facts,” said Kelly-Anne Conway, a senior advisor to President Trump, during a televised interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press.

By Erika Naomi9 min read
Pexels/lil artsy

It was January 2017, and Conway was being questioned on one of the administration’s first scandals post-inauguration: Press Secretary Sean Spicer, after being sent to the podium for the first time, claimed that Trump had “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” Todd pressed Conway on Spicer’s statement by sharing evidence that seemed to contradict his claim — ultimately prompting the now infamous quote. Todd responded emphatically, “Alternative facts aren’t facts, they are falsehoods.”

The mainstream media (MSM) went crazy. The sound bite traveled across news networks and social media accounts like wildfire. It was perfect; one of the Republican’s top officials had essentially admitted to denying actual facts in favor of alternatives. Trump’s rhetoric (which, coincidentally, included accusing the MSM of reporting “fake news”) had dug the hole, but Conway’s quote was the nail in the coffin — the public shouldn’t trust anything coming from the Trump administration. 

If They Couldn’t Trust the President, Then Who Could They Trust?

Around this time, I was under the impression that the only mainstream media outlet willing to report on “fake news”— citing yet-to-be-confirmed details from unreliable sources — was conservative outlet Fox News. Without realizing it, I had consented to being placed in an echo chamber of progressive media outlets telling us what was real news and what was — as the popular saying goes— misinformation. These outlets positioned themselves as the “followers of science,” the “fact checkers,” and the producers of rational, expertly researched reporting.

A very noble idea. If only it were true.

Admittedly, my epiphany came later than some. During the height of the Covid pandemic, I finally started to see the cracks. I was getting frustrated with the swiftness at which certain media companies and “seasoned” journalists dismissed any theory on the virus — or anything related to it — that didn’t line up with the press releases being sent out by the government, its health agencies, or the W.H.O. (despite real-world data sometimes telling a different story). Of course, it’s prudent not to print articles about things that have yet to be confirmed, but there were too many double standards around what was (or wasn’t) considered relevant information. Every outlet center-left had taken a strong position on “following the science,” a term relished by liberals and a theoretical “gold star” for those who felt they were of a more intelligent and educated breed. But while conservatives were “doing their own research,” liberals were doing quite the opposite. In the end, it seemed that “follow the science” really just meant “follow the script.”

When theories of a lab leak started to spread, the voices of authority — from the White House’s Anthony Fauci to the W.H.O. and every "expert" in between — responded like bulldozers. Quickly, anyone who entertained the idea (despite evidence pointing to it being a strong possibility) was being labeled as tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists (they have since changed their tune). Meanwhile, the scientists involved in uncovering the original lab leak theory felt they were not only being silencedbut smeared. Typically, this would be the kind of story that true journalists would salivate over, working around the clock in hopes of being the first the break it. It had everything: mystery, foreign adversaries, scientific evidence, scandal, and motive. Yet — save a piece by Australian journalist Sharri Markson — it was totally and completely dismissed.

At the same time, various “experts” on Twitter were attacking people in their field for asking countering questions, based on what would otherwise be considered relevant data and research. Meanwhile, theories with a similar level of data were fully supported, as long as they followed the narrative: Covid is very dangerous (even for the young and healthy), the virus was only going to become more of a threat (certainly not less), natural immunity was never going to provide significant protection or measure up to that of the vaccine (spoiler alert: it did), and school closures should remain in place as they were not proving to have a significant impact on our kids (another position that saw a significant reversal).

Though the U.S.’s role in funding gain of function research at the now infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (situated in the city from which the virus originated) could be brushed off as an innocent partnership in scientific research, in Canada, it was revealed that in July of 2019, less than a year before the pandemic, a lab in Winnipeg — the country’s only Level 4 lab — had experienced a pretty significant event. Two Chinese scientists were walked out of the lab due to a breach of security so suspect, it’s hard to comprehend why it wasn’t looked into further. Details were scarce, with the event being described as a possible “policy breach” and an “administrative matter” with “no threats to public safety at this time.” But as Covid spread around the globe, it started to raise some flags.

The two scientists had their security clearance revoked for stealing samples of deadly viruses from the lab and sending them to Wuhan.

As the pandemic took its grip, Canada’s Public Health Agency continued to keep the public in the dark about why the scientists were walked out of the lab in the first place. It wasn't until 2021 that the media started to report further details on what actually happened. The two scientists in question had their security clearance revoked as a result of stealing samples of deadly viruses from the lab and sending them to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (curiously, only three months later, in October 2019, the WEF and Bill Gates held a “Pandemic Response” live simulation exercise, sparking some to conclude it was a pre-emptive measure for the Covid-19 pandemic itself, and possibly, a direct response to the security breach in Winnipeg). The Chinese scientists were eventually fired, but not until July 2021, two years after the security breach, and only when news of the story broke around the world.

Whether this prompted the U.S. to finally release its report detailing evidence that showed a strong possibility that Covid not only came from a lab leak, but potentially a deliberate one, we do not know. But it was yet another eye-opener on how the media could get things so wrong, while being far too trusting of the governments and agencies they were aligned with. Much like the Wuhan lab leak theory, even after the Winnipeg lab incident became public knowledge, the media seemed mostly uninterested in reporting on it further. Perhaps the risk of being accused of pushing conspiracy theories was too high (a rather effective tactic should you ever want to dissuade journalists from investigating something).

Shortly after the U.S. intelligence community released its report on the lab leak theory, many of the “expert” voices on Twitter fell silent. Whether they simply retreated because their time in the sun had come to an end or because they were ashamed of their own misguided behavior during the pandemic is hard to say. Prior to the report on the lab leak, many of these experts (and even some citizens) seemed to be absorbing pro-authoritarian attitudes. This was the result of a successful fear-based campaign taken up by most scientists and medical professionals and further amplified by the media. Many had cheered on Draconian lockdown measures (even at a time when most of us felt they should be relaxed), including those that were proven ineffective or even nonsensical, like closing parks, outdoor masking, the 6ft rule, quarantine hotels — the list goes on.

When the Ontario, Canadian government suggested that people should carry papers proving they were commuting as essential workers (after giving police authority to pull citizens over at random to ensure they weren’t leaving the house to socialize), many experts agreed. The consensus was that we had to do whatever it took to get this deadly virus under control — even if it meant turning entire nations into prisons. Thankfully, there was enough pushback from the public and law enforcement to ensure the “show me your papers” phase didn’t happen. And though it would have been a clear violation of our freedoms, those on the left only seemed comfortable opposing it under the pretense that it might give way to racial profiling (subjectively worse, I suppose). Meanwhile, as the government response continued to signal an excessive level of fear, the lab leak theory seemed more and more plausible.

When the vaccines were rolled out in 2021, the MSM was quick to push the message out to the masses. They positioned those who agreed to get vaccinated as “responsible believers of science” and branded those who didn’t as stupid and selfish. Yet, hesitation should have not only been expected but understandable given the Covid vaccine had skipped most of the usual testing protocols, thanks to President Trump’s rollout of Operation Warp Speed, a White House-driven mandate to produce a Covid vaccine as quickly as possible (the one thing coming from the Trump administration that liberals decided they could trust).

In a world where everything is politicized, the pandemic served as the perfect divider for those incapable of ideological compromise.

As a result, some people felt it perfectly acceptable that friends, family, and neighbors — even those who worked from home — should lose their jobs if they refused the jab, while others cut off their unvaccinated loved ones, citing threats to their health and safety (in a comedy of errors, some of those who didn’t get vaccinated refused to mingle with those who did, citing the same). In a world where everything is politicized, the pandemic served as the perfect divider for those incapable of ideological compromise and a textbook crisis for opportunistic bureaucrats to test the limit of their powers.

Meanwhile, the MSM ran with the new headline of the day: “A pandemic of the unvaccinated.” This seemed to embolden some journalists who were growing frustrated with the “anti-science” crowd (i.e. those who refused to follow public health guidelines). Alternative treatments like ivermectin were being sought out from those who were “doing their own research,” which quickly became the laughingstock of progressive news outlets. Although a simple Google search shows that ivermectin is used to treat various infections in humans, most media outlets made reference to the drug as strictly “a horse de-wormer.” In September 2021, Rolling Stone took it one step further by publishing a piece claiming that ivermectin overdoses were causing emergency room backlogs in the State of Oklahoma. Too ridiculous to be true, still, the article was (predictably) shared with both glee and anger by everyone who had a bone to pick with the anti-science crowd. Today, if you look up the article, the headline has changed: “One Hospital Denies Oklahoma Doctor’s Story of Ivermectin Overdoses Causing ER Delays.” It goes on to feature a painfully-written correction above the article, which attempts to whitewash the incredulous journalistic standards which led to the original story being published. In the end, the doctor cited in the story had essentially made the whole thing up, and the journalist from Rolling Stone (clearly invested in the narrative) didn’t bother verifying any of it.

When these attitudes persisted even after it was proven that the vaccine did not stop transmission of the virus (as they had originally claimed), and the effectiveness continued to wane with each new variant, even those who had been staunchly pro-vaccine had to admit that maybe these vaccines weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Still, many dug their feet in deeper, cementing their view that the virus was very dangerous, the vaccines worked as intended, and we should use all means necessary to inoculate the entire population. Then, as it became more apparent that the vaccines weren’t working as intended, some grew terrified. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to stoke more fear about the virus, experts colluded with media to push the latest consensus — there was always a new variant emerging, and it was almost certainly going to be worse than the one before it. Now that they had relaxed most public health measures (to the horror of some), the only thing left to do was to keep up with vaccinations for as long as recommended. This continued even as real-world data seemed to show that the virus was becoming less virulent, and that the vaccines provided protection almost exclusively to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems (quietly however, health units started scaling back their vaccine schedules to eventually only include the two groups).

The Blind Leading the Blind

Meanwhile, the progressive movement saw its agenda balloon to feature trans rights more prominently. With it, left-leaning media outlets, medical experts, and academics joined the chorus of voices supporting medical interventions for minors who wanted to transition. However, as time went on, it became clear that, in this case, some may have been following their feelings more than they were the science. In fact, as more data has become available, it seems possible that these interventions may actually do more harm than good. When notable celebrities who had publicly announced a change in pronouns — including Demi Lovato — reverted to their old ones shortly thereafter, the alarm bells started to sound. With more cases of de-transitioning expected to come to light over the course of the next few years, it proves that gender dysphoria can be misdiagnosed and even confused with symptoms stemming from other mental health disorders (including autism). Adding to this, children of celebrities seem to be coming out as transgendered or non-binary at a statistically impossible rate. This points to another possibility — that gender identity can sometimes be influenced by environmental factors, catching on like any other trend and manifesting as a phase (perhaps closer to goth than gay). 

The fear of sharing any opposing opinions related to the trans movement is real. A school in Ontario, Canada, went so far as to allow a trans woman to teach children while wearing absurdly oversized prosthetic breasts. At no time in history would this have been considered appropriate attire for a teacher, however, in recent years, we have learned that being accused of discriminating against trans people comes with serious risks — not only your reputation but also your livelihood (as J.K. Rowling can attest to). 

Yet — despite being evident to many — sharing this viewpoint within progressive circles is met with heavy resistance. In a perhaps predictable yet hilariously ironic turn of events, while attempting to publish this article on Medium, it was quickly flagged and removed. The reason? It was in “violation” of their rules; specifically, they stated they “do not allow content that may undermine the dignity and rights of transgender and/or non-binary individuals” or the promotion of “hateful, extreme, or controversial content.” Yikes, here we go again. Censoring articles simply because they go against a particular school of thought — and publishing only those that adhere to it — is quite Orwellian and really solidifies the entire premise of this article. I imagine that, in a few years, when the hysteria around this particular topic has died down, many of these media companies will change their tune. They’ll carry on as if they didn’t willingly participate in what seems to be a social experiment — one that’s influencing our young people by promoting certain ideas and censoring any dissenting opinions that surround them.

Email sent to me by Medium’s Support Team regarding this article.
Email sent to me by Medium’s Support Team regarding this article.

The Media Needed a New Boogeyman 

In the wake of 2020 (likely sensing some BLM fatigue after protests grew out of control), the media saw the trans rights movement as the perfect opportunity to pivot from the hard lines drawn during the pandemic. New rules were constantly being added to the proverbial “Guidebook on Trans Inclusion,” and many were following along blindly. Often assuming the role of activists over journalists, it was only a matter of time before the media showed their indignation once again.

In 2021, I came across a story about a group of journalists who had gone so far as to discredit themselves after attempting to smear a woman, who attended a spa in L.A with her teen daughter, after she had spoken up about an incident of indecent exposure in the changing room. The journalists had suggested that the whole event was staged by the mother in order to demonize trans people, a theory that was quickly presumed as fact and echoed across left-leaning publications who, despite lacking evidence, swiftly labeled it a “hoax.” In the end, the defendant was found guilty and charged (briefly fleeing until they were finally arrested). During the investigation, police also uncovered a history of sexual assault.

Prior to this hoax accusation, there was another, more notorious one — most notably by the president himself. This time, the soundbite that ran across the MSM was one of Trump asserting (and not for the first time), “It’s a hoax!”. The story crafted by the media portrayed Trump’s statement as referring to the pandemic. And though many of his supporters may have agreed, the angle of that story was what you might call misinformation. What Trump was actually referring to (which could have been easily double-checked by anyone willing to do so) was the latest media reports, which implied that his team was mishandling the pandemic response. Two very different things, with two very different implications.

We all feel a need to be on the right side of whatever is happening — except that the “right side” often changes depending on your ideological allegiances.

When I myself was presented with this information, through a heated Twitter exchange, I was embarrassed by my own naiveté – but of course, I was not alone. I’m sure if you were to ask almost anyone who dislikes Trump, they would tell you with certainty that he called the pandemic a hoax. Once the story is out there, people are unlikely to seek out any corrections (why would they, when they liked the idea of it being true?), and so, the debunked “facts” remain as truths and become solidified into our own version of history (a strategy that many have come to rely on). This quote from the NBC article stands out: “Trump has weaponized the word ‘hoax’ throughout his presidency, using it to belittle and discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference as well as his impeachment trial. He also has a long history of distrusting experts, most notably his own intelligence community and government scientists.”

In retrospect, it seems that Trump was right to have some distrust in the information provided by these experts — and it’s quite concerning that journalists didn’t maintain a healthy dose of it too. Yet, we are all complicit in our own way when it comes to perpetuating falsehoods and pushing partisan agendas, whether we realize it or not. We are under no obligation to pick sides on any given topic, yet most of us do. From Ukraine to Israel, to upcoming elections, or the various scandals involving the rich and powerful, we all feel a need to be on the right side of whatever is happening — except that the “right side” often changes depending on your ideological allegiances (and thus, which information you choose to believe).

The challenge is people can come across the exact same information and have a totally different interpretation of what it means. We may neglect certain pieces of information in favor of others, which further shapes our opinions and what we believe to be true. So, when coming across a piece of information that satisfies a predisposition, maybe even triggers you, double-check your sources. There’s a good chance that the journalist reporting on the story felt the same, and for reasons of their own, decided not to bother.

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