The waning days of the US coronavirus outbreak have prompted plenty of work-related reflection.
If the coronavirus pandemic has been a boon to global streaming services, which saw their subscriber numbers climb in the past year as homebound audiences stayed glued to their screens, that’s only accelerated a trend already taking hold in the Russian VOD space. According to TMT Consulting, the Russian VOD market grew by 66% in […]
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails during the coronavirus pandemic were released this week through the Freedom of Information Act, and the media have shown little restraint in delivering him softball questions on the subject. CNN and MSNBC’s hosts seemed uninterested in pressing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director on questions raised by the contents of the emails, such as whether he wrongly dismissed the possibility that the coronavirus emerged from a laboratory leak in Wuhan, China.
MSNBC is hosting a “Vaccinating America” coronavirus special in the Lawrence O’Donnell hour tonight. O’Donnell will interview the president, followed by a town hall with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Politico Playbook reports they committed a “journalistic no-no” in offering to pay for an audience (like he can’t draw one?)
It’s apparently about assembling some er, vaccination diversity in the crowd. You might have to pay the anti-vaxxers to attend? Since MSNBC pretends there are no leftist anti-vaxxers?
RENT-A-CROWD FOR FAUCI? — Tonight, MSNBC hosts a coronavirus town hall forum with Anthony Fauci. To find a mix of attendees with different vaccination statuses, the outlet hired MediaBarn, a company that specializes in focus groups and surveys.
News organizations do not typically pay attendees to take part in live audiences — it’s a journalistic no-no. But in the invitation sent out by MediaBarn, the company offered to pay people $100 to attend the event in Alexandria, Va.
After we asked MSNBC about this , MediaBarn updated its online invitation with a “correction” stating that they would not be paying audience members, and that it was “incorrectly sent out.” Now we’ll have to see if they can still fill a room for Fauci.
We can guess that this “town hall” is going to be much, much softer on this president than NBC’s Savannah Guthrie was with President Trump last October. We counted 25 liberal/oppositional blasts at Trump. It was screechy.
Facebook is fact-checking posts that claim the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, a theory gaining traction in the scientific community—particularly after science reporter Nicholas Wade published a piece on Medium last week explaining why he believes the lab-leak theory is the most likely explanation.
Facebook is warning users that articles describing evidence for the theory are “Missing Context” and is steering them to a 2020 fact-check saying there is little evidence for a non-natural origin of the virus. Wade’s story is accompanied on Facebook by a link to an April 2020 fact-check. The fact-check, which is riddled with grammatical errors, quotes two academic articles and five scientists on Twitter who believe the theory is false. Reached for comment, a spokesperson directed the Washington Free Beacon to Facebook’s COVID policies. Those policies ban content that claims COVID was manufactured or bioengineered.
It’s the latest example of Facebook’s aggressive approach to content moderation. The lab leak hypothesis became a political flashpoint when senior Trump administration officials and Republican lawmakers voiced concerns about a lab in Wuhan that worked with coronaviruses. Though mainstream media outlets called the hypothesis a conspiracy theory, the theory is gaining traction as efforts to pinpoint the virus’s natural origin founder.
Wade’s Medium piece outlining the circumstantial evidence for the lab leak hypothesis received widespread attention when it was posted on the popular blogging platform last week. Wade’s piece temporarily disappeared from the site on Tuesday afternoon, although at press time it had been restored. Medium did not respond to requests for comment. Medium’s rules on COVID-19 content explicitly ban “conspiracy claims” that COVID was “engineered in a lab.” They also ban references to COVID as a “far-reaching conspiracy or cover-up.”
Facebook acknowledges its practice of limiting the reach of content that it finds objectionable, including content its fact-checkers label False or Partly False. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment on whether it artificially limits the reach content it labels as “Missing Context.” An examination of accounts that had posted the article showed significantly lower engagement with the story than with other stories posted in the same time period.
In its recent ruling on former president Donald Trump’s ban from the platform, Facebook’s Oversight Board endorsed the use of downranking to avoid “amplifying speech” that doesn’t meet its standards.
Scientists and intelligence agencies are still investigating the origins of the virus. No one has managed to disprove theories saying the virus originated in a Chinese lab, yet companies like Facebook and Medium are attempting to limit debate. Facebook previously limited the reach of a New York Post report on Hunter Biden, which the platform falsely labeled as “misinformation.”
Chuck Ross contributed to this report.
A year marked by the coronavirus pandemic, economic turbulence, and widespread protest has given increased urgency to conversations about racism, social justice, and inequality. That, in turn, is forcing the documentary world to rethink the traditional ways of doing business, according to industry leaders. “You can’t completely blow everything up, I don’t think. We have […]
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