The 'oops' model of disinformation must end

Through practices like corrections, retractions and social media follow-up posts, it may be that mainstream news organisations are able to preserve the appearance of journalistic integrity even while they get away with spreading disinformation to a majority of their audiences.

When retracting false claims, apparently to preserve their journalistic integrity (or, rather, just the false image of it), publishers may be only reaching a tiny number of people with their corrections. There is also the issue of false coverage or false "fact-checking" at a decisive moment, such as an election, followed by retraction or correction after the decisive moment has subsided, as can be seen with the story of Hunter Biden's laptop.

Always deception at a critical moment

Many media sources will assert certitude at times when decisions are being made by people on an issue, to purposefully press them into taking a position when it matters, like with the allegations of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq nearly twenty years ago, or chemical attacks in Syria more than five years ago. They don't mind later casting doubt on allegations, as long as the moment when decisions are being made has passed and they got their result.

Another example is the triumphant US strike against ISIS-K in Afghanistan, which followed a lethal suicide bombing against US Marines at Kabul Airport. The revenge strike was presented in the press as some sort of victory, only for it to later be quietly revealed that the US strike hit no terrorists but managed to kill an entire family, seven children included. What the American journalists did during that series of retaliatory drone strikes was about as good as drinking the blood of those Afghan children when they died, lapping up the US government's triumphant statement, and they had no shame later. Apologies and corrections are worthless, as their act of vile propaganda at the cost of real lives and the deceiving of their audience about an American revenge operation had already been done. To this date, there is no indication that US revenge strikes in response to the deaths of their Marines killed anyone other than innocent people.

When it comes to outrage-generating headlines relating to decisive elections or world conflicts, what we see is every dirty tactic being used by the press to convince people to support a narrow agenda or side. A lot of it is later passed of as mistakes, like showing pro-regime rallies in a country and miscaptioning it as opposition rallies, although they will only do the same again and again in similar conflicts. But, in every case, they make sure the damage is done and the public is thoroughly misled at a decisive moment before making any correction.

Red-handed journalists

When the media engages in false or misleading coverage, and later discretely apologises or tidies up its mistakes once it knows nobody is looking, it does the equivalent of what many nations keep doing on the foreign policy front when they enter conflicts. That is, despite repeatedly making everything worse and getting everything wrong, they keep giving themselves another chance to get it right, like a doctor who kills a hundred percent of patients he operates on. Although every attempt at intervention in other nations by Western military forces has been an unmitigated disaster for the last thirty years or so, and much of the Western media coverage of such conflicts has consisted of endless lies, still they try. And, they will try to convince us, it is all just innocent mistakes. They will go back later, offer a half-apology here and there, delete this or that offensive lie that killed so many people, and then move on after washing their bloodied hands in blood.

Yes, bloodthirsty interference and attempts to change the regime abroad are innocent mistakes by the well-meaning and sweet people of the United States, just as misleading the people about the change of regime at home is also an innocent mistake by sweet journalists. That is what you believe, if you are the kind of dupe they are looking for.

It would be good if some laws governing journalism forced news sources to thoroughly publicise their own errors in subsequent articles or segments. They should be forced to provide self-denigrating coverage that must reach as many people as their false information did, in order to compensate.