The Smear: Sharyl Attkisson Talks Fake News, Hidden Political Agendas in New Book
What, exactly, is a smear?
That depends on who you ask. One man’s smear is another man’s truth. In simple terms, it’s an effort to manipulate opinion by promulgating an overblown, scandalous, and damaging narrative. The goal is often to destroy ideas by ruining the people who are most effective at communicating them. What you may not know is that a lot of this manipulation is done through methods that are utterly invisible to the average consumer. Paid forces devise clever, covert ways to shape the total information landscape in ways you can’t imagine. Public ideas are meticulously orchestrated to appear random. Their goal is to fool you.
Today’s smear artists are sophisticated strategists. Well-paid front men for rich and powerful interests. They research and monitor targets using every available weapon of modern technology. They employ surreptitious tactics to exploit vulnerabilities. Execution is crucial. They must persuade people to form strong opinions. The audience must get angry or become suspicious so they’re motivated to take action. The message must be repeated so many times in so many venues, it’s unthinkingly accepted without question. It must take root and burrow deeply into the public consciousness. Some smears involve entirely fabricated material. But many believe the most effective smears include an element of fact to provide a patina of credibility.(Pg.81)
Another common trait of smear artists: they’re polarizing figures who often find themselves in conflict with others on the same team. (Pg.87)
Step One: Mine and Pump
The wheels are set in motion when political, corporate, or special interests catch wind of a news story that may shed a negative light on them or their agenda. They use a wide range of tactics to obtain as much information as they can about the story in progress so they can identify pressure points.
Step Two: Connect
Smear outfits often hire ex-journalists for their contacts in the news industry and compensate them generously for connections to their former universe. These ex-journalists know who’s weak and who’s susceptible to pressure tactics in their former news organizations. Who to call. Who will buckle. Who can they use to discredit the planned story and the reporter who’s on it.
Step Three: Deploy and Discredit
Now they’re ready to deploy. For example, PR flacks representing a pharmaceutical company trying to stop a negative story may contact a news outlet’s sales department and complain, or threaten to pull advertising. They contact the story editors directly to argue against the story. (Pg.87)
I run into a longtime, national investigative journalist in Washington, D.C. He quickly turns the conversation to the sorry state of news. “But I think the pendulum will swing back the other way,” he remarks. “Really?” I ask. “Sure,” he says. “It has to. It can’t sustain itself like this. It’ll come and go.” For now, one thing you can count on is that most every image that crosses your path has been put there for a reason. Nothing happens by accident. What you need to ask yourself isn’t so much Is it true, but Who wants me to believe it—and why? (Pg.320)
Sharyl Attkisson is an American writer and host of the TV show Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson. She is a five-time Emmy Award winner, and a Radio Television Digital News Association Edward R. Murrow Award recipient. Wikipedia
Sharyl Attkisson is a nonpartisan investigative journalist and an independent contributor to JustTheNews.com. She is a five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting. Attkisson is also author of two New York Times best sellers: “The Smear,” and “Stonewalled.” Attkisson is host and managing editor of the Sunday morning national TV news program Sinclair’s “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson,” which focuses on investigative and accountability reporting. It is distributed to 43 million U.S. households on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Telemundo and CW stations.
For thirty years, Attkisson was a correspondent and anchor at CBS News, PBS, CNN and in local news. She has received national recognition for reporting on Red Cross fraud, Republican fundraising, K-Street lobbying, the Bush “TARP” bank bailout, earmarks, prescription drug and vaccine dangers, green energy waste, Fast and Furious and Benghazi. She is one of the few journalists to have flown in a B-52 on a combat mission and in an F-15 fighter jet Combat Air Patrol flight. She is a fifth degree black belt Master in TaeKwonDo.
New York Times Bestseller
Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition … Google Books
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Shutterstock (4393845e) Sharyl Attkisson, Investigative Journalist Loretta Lynch testifies at her confirmation hearing to be the US Attorney General, Washington D.C, America – 29 Jan 2015
Edited by EZorrilla.