The homepage of Breitbart.com around noon eastern
I was astonished to see the Breitbart headline in the screenshot above, but it changed when I clicked on it. The story-page headline reads Nancy Pelosi Calls Ben Carson “Disturbingly Unqualified,” which is probably a more precise way to describe her than “white Democrat leader.” Beware autoplay video with sound, should you click on that link yourself. The story is short enough to quote entirely here:
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is calling the decision to tap Ben Carson as head of Housing and Urban Development a “disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice.” Pelosi says the country deserves someone with “relevant experience” to protect the rights of homeowners and renters.
In her statement released Monday, she says “there is no evidence that Dr. Carson brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across America.”
Trump says, “Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.”
There’s a lot missing from this report, including what Carson’s qualifications might actually be. If you want those kinds of nuances, you’re better off with the Times. It’s kind of weird that Breitbart would just reprint a statement from the House Minority Leader with none of its own commentary or counterpoint, save that quote from Donald Trump. But all the commentary they need is in that homepage headline: White Democrat Leader Calls…
Humans are the only animal with the power of speech. That’s probably good, since you don’t want the dog following you around saying hey, are you hungry? all day. It’s also not really true; lots of animals communicate with sound, from birds to monkeys to weirdo meerkats. But man is the animal whose speech moves through time. We talk not just about whether we see a big snake but also about the time we saw it, about what it means that things were once one way they were and how they should be in the future. The meerkat has little idea of should. Talking is rad, is what I’m saying here, even when other people do it. Today is Friday, I have a brand new bite plate and attendant speech impediment, and I’ve also got some bang-on links re: the power of speech. Won’t you stare silently at a screen with me?
Andrew Breitbart, whose picture is _much_ easier to find on the internet than Conor Friedersdorf's—I'm just saying.
Marshall McLuhan once defined “news” as events that we know about even though they don’t directly affect us. His construction highlights an important aspect of the form: because you learn about news from reports and not from observed phenomena, the credibility of the reporter becomes paramount. Basically, unreliable reporter is to news as schizo-affective disorder is to lived experience. It so happens that the growth of the internet combines vastly more news outlets with vastly reduced reliability, so that getting your news from the web is the equivalent of either having a crystal ball the lets you see into every corner of the world or of staring into your aquarium and believing it is a crystal ball that et cetera etc. You just don’t know. Thus is internet news particularly at the mercy of its reporters’ ethics, and by extension particularly vulnerable to insane, slanderous conspiracy theories. Just ask Atlantic reporter Conor Friedersdorf.