Six Steps to Build a Faux News Story

D.C.-based journo Julian Sanchez has articulated what many of us have been thinking for the last few years: that there is a new news cycle at play. He calls it, appropriately, the “new news cycle” and invokes, without actual mention, a few hot-button news ghosts of the past (birthers, deathers, Panthers) and present (mosque/community center/jihadist headquarters).

From his blog post yesterday:

The steps are:

1. Faux Story

2. Why is the Em-Ess-Em ignoring this huge Faux Story?

3. After days or weeks of flood-the-zone coverage across multiple conservative media outlets, some significant portion of the base is convinced that the faux story is true and/or significant.

4. Mainstream press takes note of (3) and speculates about the political and electoral consequences

5. Panicked Democrats react as though the faux story is true and/or significant

6. See, we told you it was a huge story!

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Of course, this does not represent all new “news” stories. There are, occasionally, still news pegs and happenings that drive the cycle. But it’s a nice take on those stories churned out of the FNC mill.

We might add a point 4.1: newspaper ombudsmen apologize for not covering the story after their desk is deluged with handwritten and chopped-up-magazine-pasted notes.

And a 4.2: the CJR team sits in the Executive Editor’s office and wrings their hands about what angle to take on the story that shouldn’t have been.

And a 5.1: the “Em-Ess-Em” (ugh, them again) reacts to the Democrat reactions.

And a 5.2: Halperin, Allen et al take to the airwaves. Whoopi and the gals weigh in.

Oh and heck, a 5.3 also: someone unexpected, usually a Republican, veers off message and acknowledges the whole thing for what it is, “small potatoes.”

Anything you’d like to add?

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.