BuzzFeed’s grotesque and unverifiable report about what information/blackmail material the Russians have on Donald Trump has certainly caused a stir in the media into today. But, it is certainly no coincidence that the report was published last night, less than a day ahead of Donald Trump’s scheduled press conference (the one that had been pushed back by Trump previously).
I’ve spoken in the past about a communications theory the media has decided to adopt as policy – agenda-setting theory. The idea behind the theory is that if the media takes a story and makes it seem more important, then the audience will regard it as such.
Donald Trump’s long-awaited press conference, the first major press conference since he became president-elect, has been long scheduled for today. It is absolutely expected that someone, somewhere was going to publish something to try to take the spotlight away from anything positive he might say and shine a light on the controversial nature of his ascendancy.
Now, as far as the story itself goes, BuzzFeed’s writers admit that there is no way to really verify the information. Yet, the outlet chose to publish the story anyway. It is likely that no one else would have published this story, so the idea that BuzzFeed needed to get the information out first is pretty silly. It comes down to a media agenda, and their agenda has always been pretty clear – control, not just set, the narrative.
Trump’s reaction to the news, covered by Jay Caruso a short time ago, is distinctly Trumpian, and yet filled with the emotion one would expect from someone being accused of the things that set social media a-flutter last night.
BuzzFeed wasn’t the only outlet attempting to control the narrative ahead of the press conference today, however. CNN was in line to do the same thing. A story they dropped yesterday says just as much.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 11, 2017
The media was always going to focus on Trump’s ties to and alleged support from Russia, and this was going to be the story to solidify that coverage, had BuzzFeed not intervened.
What’s so remarkable about the spectacle is what BuzzFeed has actually ended up doing here. By publishing unverifiable reporting on rumors about Trump, they have both hurt the “Fake news!” movement and helped widen the gap between the media and the American people who don’t trust them anymore.
All in an attempt to sway what coverage Donald Trump would be getting.
This is what happens when the news becomes something you try to shape, rather than stories you just tell. We have a media complex that has decided it must be the one to tell you what is most important and how you should view a story. It is no longer about just telling a story. It’s about telling you how to interpret them.
And people are getting sick of it.