“In LA, CBS Station Pretends There Was a Real Kwanzaa Parade,” Tom Blumer writes at NewsBusters. Note to CBS’s L.A. affiliate: while you may cover Hollywood on a regular basis, you’re not supposed to be in the make-believe business; best leave that to your parent company’s entertainment division. Google the names “Dan Rather,” and “Mary Mapes” for more on what can go wrong when CBS employees attempt to cross the streams* and cook the books:
Twitchy tells us that blogger “Sooper Mexican estimated that four people attended the post-parade “Black Lives Matter” rally at Leimert Park. In an update, however, he downgraded this estimate to three.”
A procession of a few vehicles lasting 10 minutes is not a “parade.” It isn’t even a motorcade.
Three or four people listening to aggrieved speakers droning on about how “black lives matter” (others, apparently not so much) isn’t a “rally”; it’s a collection of unhinged soapbox rants.
Yet readers of the CBS-LA report who don’t get information about the failed enterprise from another source will believe that a legitimate “parade” and “rally” took place with and implied respectable numbers of participants — despite what the station’s own reporter tweeted.
One of those other sources of information about the event will apparently not include the Los Angeles Times. A search on “Kwanzaa” at the Times indicates the the paper stopped covering the embarrassing event in 2012. In 2011, the Times claimed that “hundreds” gathered for that year’s extravaganza, but the photo provided with the writeup only showed about a half-dozen people in some kind of dance formation, with perhaps a half-dozen or a few more onlookers. After 2012, even the Times apparently reached its limit on the degree of sham reporting it would tolerate. CBS-LA would do well to follow suit in the future.
Looking at the photos in Tom’s post of the miniature Kwanzaa “parade” and comparing them to CBS’s “reporting” is to see the visual definition of the late Michael Crichton’s Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect in action:
Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.
Tom’s post at NewsBusters includes everything but video. For the sake of completeness, here’s motion picture footage of both the event, and the reporter covering it:
Update: “An imaginary parade for an imaginary holiday,” Kathy Shaidle writes. “It’s actually the most fitting ‘celebration’ of Kwanzaa I’ve ever heard of.” Shades of David Mamet’s Wag the Dog screenplay:
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean [DeNiro]: Well, if Kissinger can win the Peace Prize, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find out I’d won the Preakness.
Stanley Motss [Hoffman]: Well, yes but, our guy DID bring peace.
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Yeah, but there wasn’t a war.
Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.
* And arguably Katie Couric as well, while we’re on the subject of crossing the streams between socialism, activism, and American winter holidays.