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When Misinformation Isn’t

The same people who said to shut up and put on a mask claimed it was disinformation and a wild conspiracy suggesting COVID was the result of a lab accident.

Andy Bloom

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The “majority” has to stop telling the actual majority their beliefs are misinformation. Time has proven that what begins as “conspiracy theories” may be the ultimate truth. There is no better example than the origins of COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began, suggesting the virus came from anywhere other than a wet market and anything but a bat or pangolin were greeted with taunts of “misinformation”, “disinformation”, “racist”, “conspiracy theorist”, “science denier”, or worse.

There is a lengthy list of people shunned by the “scientific community”, the media, and government officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, or who had their social media accounts suspended or terminated for spreading “misinformation” about COVID-19. A surefire method to draw the ire of those in power or get a Twitter account canceled was to suggest COVID originated in a Chinese lab leak.

Shortly before concluding his tenure as Director of NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Fauci, arrogant to the end, was a guest on a New York Times podcast Sway with Kara Swisher. There he repeated his oft-made comment, “I feel, as do the overwhelming majority of scientists who have knowledge of virology and knowledge of evolutionary biology, that the most likely explanation for this is a natural leap from an animal reservoir to a human.”

In April 2020, at a White House press conference, Fauci said, “There was a study recently that we can make available to you, where a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences there and the sequences in bats as they evolve. And the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”

During the press conference, Fauci referred to a paper titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” published in Nature Medicine.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic recently released a memo exposing Fauci’s and others’ emails. It shows that Fauci failed to disclose a conference call in early February 2020, during which he commissioned the paper to disprove the lab leak theory. The emails also show Fauci had final approval of the work before publication.

In December, the Subcommittee issued a report stating COVID most likely occurred due to a lab leak.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in a classified document prepared for the White House and key members of Congress, the U.S. Energy Department concluded that the pandemic was most likely a result of a lab leak. That’s a shift for the department, which was previously undecided about the virus’s origins.

The Energy Department’s conclusion is the result of new intelligence. It’s significant because the department has considerable scientific expertise and oversees a network of U.S. national laboratories, some of which conduct advanced biological research.

Although the Department of Energy reports with low confidence, the FBI maintains that the lab leak theory is the most plausible explanation with moderate confidence.

“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said during an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. “The FBI has agents, professionals, analysts, virologists, microbiologists, etc., who focus specifically on the dangers of biological threats, which include things like novel viruses like covid and the concerns that they’re in the wrong hands. Some bad guys, a hostile nation-state, a terrorist, a criminal, the threats those could pose.

“So, here you’re talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans, and that’s precisely what that capability was designed for. I should add that our work related to this continues, and there are not a whole lot of details I can share that aren’t classified. I will just make the observation that the Chinese government seems to me has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing, the work that our U.S. government and close foreign partners are doing, and that’s unfortunate for everybody.”

Wray and others strongly imply that if we don’t know where COVID-19 came from, it’s because of the Chinese government’s measures to hide the truth.

There is additional new research that demonstrates that for all the fuss made about wearing masks, they did little to stop the transmission of COVID. Failing to wear a mask was another societal no-no and also an easy way to get booted from social media for disinformation.

The same people who said to shut up and put on a mask claimed it was disinformation and a wild conspiracy suggesting COVID was the result of a lab accident.

Of course, they were the same people screaming “Russia, Russia, Russia,” and “collusion” for two years before the pandemic.

I’ve written at length about freedom of expression and the First Amendment. It has to be okay to have different ideas and to express them without fear of being ostracized or canceled.

My liberal friends talk about conservatives censoring because, somewhere in America, parents have taken control of their children’s education. Meanwhile, people were booted from social media for saying things that proved true in the light of day. People have been fired because they were silly enough to say, “all lives matter,” which made them “racist”.

The New York Times and Washington Post have yet to return their Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on Trump – Russian collusion, a charge for as of yet; nobody has been indicted.

The only misinformation about Hunter Biden’s laptop was from those who claimed it was fake and Russian disinformation to impact the election.

I’m waiting for all 40,000 hours of video at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th to be released before I decide if it was a “violent, deadly insurrection,” or “a bunch of tourists walking around”, or, as I suspect, not quite either.

Who knows? Maybe my children will discover that the Earth will survive the temperature changes that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez predicts will doom the planet in 12 years.

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1 Comment

  1. R. Katz

    March 16, 2023 at 6:42 am

    Mr. Andy Bloom,
    First, can I say, just purely as a writer (whether political or not, writing storytelling, I am FLOORED by your eloquence in positing tough questions with a true willingness to debate and discuss, in the great tradition of this country. I was quite nostalgic when you mentioned Ronald Reagan and Tip’Neal. Here’s what I want to ask and understand.
    -I may not agree with many friends who over the years have passionately argued for the GOP because they are ‘fiscal conservatives.’
    -This is NOT a steamrolling of that idea.
    -However, what is deeply disturbing is the perpetuation of – for example – putting quotation marks about the “violent insurrection.” In my humble view, this has to stop. It is so dangerous, and I believe, a massive danger to the Founding Fathers intentions, to CONTINUE the ‘big lie’
    -Reasonable and sophisticated people like you, offer people like me a genuine safe space to debate.
    -I understand raising AOC; I understand the extremity.
    -But every one of needs to take the time to do several things:
    ***I believe it is the duty of all Americans to **READ THE DEPOSITIONS IN THE DOMINION V. FOX” case.
    -Under the cover of being an ‘opinion show’, Tucker, Laura, Kilmeade ,LITERALLY talk about ‘hating Trump.’ They are texting each other in real time: “we have shut this down. it’s ridiculous. we have to get this f’ng guy out of our party.’ No one has suggested nor presented evidence that these were ‘tourists’ But Fox’s non-stop, recitations are terrifying. Can you imagine facing Officer Sicknick’s wife and children, and saying “a few bad apples, but it was just tourists.” Brian Sicknick is dead. The physical and emotional trauma is so severe, many people who were doing over desks, to save members of congress, suffer such PTSD as to no longer be able to function.
    -Does ANYONE really believe (*backed up by facts) that the 312% rise anti-Jewish violent hate crime is NOT connected? “There were good people on both siders.” I’m not here to laud or vilify antifa. However, the number of conservative Republican Police Chiefs across the country, are utterly horrified : they know, truth or no, whatever is spoon-fed is no longer opinion: it is received by eager viewers as FACT..
    -Look at the blueprints of congress. Look at the amount of ‘tourists’ who tactically new where every camera was. Look at text exchanges with the Proud Boys, the tiki march chanting “Jews Will Not Replace Us.” Just as I would denounce and Dem or Independent, why the f-ck are spineless folks like Kevin McCarthy literally choosing what I call the “OJ narrative.” OJ just had to tell himself over and over again, he didn’t murder anyone until he convince himself.y
    -The party of ‘values’ SEATS George Santos. The evidence is so overwhelming – not hearsay , hard evidence, that far beyond his lies, he criminally procured campaign funds for personal reasons. He exploited his donors and then ghosted them. People like to say ‘that guy’s nuts.’ No, that’s unfair to people with mental health issues. This is way beyond politics. ***Me and all of friends, immediately condemned the John Edwards mess. He was a beloved figure. But for me, if I’m ‘America First’ NOT ‘Party First’ (which I am), ALL OF US should recognize that a person who campaigned on his mother’s time in Auschwitz… and then apparently died AGAIN on 9/11 — this not FREE SPEECH. This, as we know, is why we fight for free speech, but no judges (left or right) will say it’s OK to yell ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater.
    -i truly wanted to show an openness to GOP’s debt ceiling plan, medicare/medicate plans, moving more companies here at home, and investing in our labor force. ***HOWEVER, I WILL NEVER GET THAT FAR. Sadly, I can’t consider those things, when snake oil salesmen on Fox are LITERALLY texting each other – desperate to get the ‘maniac’ President to drop it. 7 mins later, as stated – in order to not make the audience me – KNOWING LIE about the ‘rigged, phony, election.’ 68 court cases thrown out – not a single one (heard by so many conservative judges) – found to have anything nearing evidence convincing to say the election was rigged,
    -These same people – we know now as FACT – were scrambling… begging people like Mark Meadows and Kevin McCarthy to open their eyes, and recognize, the murder of police officers CAN NOT BE DEMOCRATIC OR REPUBLICAN. Yet, Tucker/Hannity/Dobbs/Ingram, STILL **lied to their audiences about the most controversial election that was rigged, but literally at commercial stake, the same exact people PLEADING with the 45th president to help shut it down.
    -I call bullshit on a ‘few bad apples.’ The President literally said “January 6 will be wild.” Are we really going to sell ourselves that he ‘couldn’t have meant THAT.’ Of course he did. Just like all the ‘good people on both sides’ making me terrified , gleefully walking with torches “JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US. The following IS NOT OPINION, IT IS FACT: before the Nazis first steps toward a ‘pure race,’ they’re started with a an intimidation. Walking through neighborhoods chanting ‘JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US.’
    -;I am glad I have MANY GOP friends who thankfully and forcefully are speaking out about the GOP playbook. it is NOT about the debt ceiling, it is NOT about smaller government. My GOP friends openly express, ‘we know dog whistles when we hear them.’
    -I find it not on irresponsible (at best) that, Kevin McCarthy is so truly spineless, he was willing to yield to the extremists in his party, bc he was so desperate for POWER. Was he desperate to respect the constitution? Was he desperate to take a good hard look at the nearly 400% increase in VIOLENT HATE CRIME – toward Jews. toward gays. people of color..’ The thing about actual statistics, gathered by bi-partisan unervisty researches, are merely providing the data. DATA, does not need an opinion. As sure as the the sun will rise, DATA, is the best disinfectant.
    -There is an extraordinary falsity that also has to be called out: ‘Christian Evangelicals Unequivocally Back a shared interpretation of ‘Judeo-Christian values’ that ‘America was born into.’ How is it possible that certain American Jews buy into ‘Judeo-Christian values.’ The DATA does not bear out. Publicly, yes. Private, people MUST take their blinders off: the same people talking about the harmony of shared values are LYING. Read their unprepared statements. Hear them MOCK Jews both in America and Israel. It could not be more clear, the sanctimonious hyperbole about protecting Jews is 100% fabrication. When doors are closed, the very same people continue to talk about Jews going to hell. the farthest on the right, busted by dug old mails or tweets, lays out a pattern that is all about votes and ZERO principle.
    -The GOP has ***deliberatley chosen*** to make 2024 about the ‘CULTURE WARS.’ I tell you I would lean int if they said: 2024 is about fiscal responsibility, about reduction overregulation, taking a deep hard look at true government reduction. I’m sure where I would shake out, but there would be complete openness to hearing each side and deliberating.
    –However, the choice instead being to race bait, continually CLAIM people throwing bricks into Jewish children’s bedroom – on the side the bricks “ALL JEWS WILL DIE.”
    -Sadly, I believe, true Americans will recognize, the GOPs strategy (without f’g question) is to convince the blue and red states, about the impact of drag queens. Censoring James Bond books. Removing books like ‘MAUS’ – ‘not appropriate for a child.’ Oh really? Did you know, MAUS – being a graphic novel – according to polls has caused millions of children with White Christian Supremist list to go to their parents and say “You really think this Holocaust did not happen?”
    -The truly unAmerican, loathsome lying attempting to say the sudden uptick in drag queen legislation is ANY different that the two ignorant homophobes who lured Matthew Shepard to a field, beat him so badly he couldn’t speak or so, leave him hanging like a scarecrow on a wooden fence, only to be found in a coma – and DIE at 22 years old, because THE GOP WILL NOT NOT NOT NOT condemn murderous violence.
    -How can I consider the GOP alternative Omnibus (which I would), when every one of these bills — barely between the lines — is an endorsement and encouragement to beat the living shit out of drag queens, out of two girls holding hands at the prom.
    -How can Spineless McCarthy and almost the entire GOP conference, live with themselves, SEAT GEORGE SANTOS, and go on Fox and call it a ‘distraction.’ The people I see here in NYC and Queens – they are lifelong Conservative Republicans … those buses that went to DC were NOT filled with ‘liberals and antifa.’ Absolute lie. They were overwhelmingly filled Republicans who hold dear to them the Constitution, and now understand even vulnerable older people were bilked of money. Retirement savings ‘campaign donations’ that went to Santos personally.
    -Apparenty the GOP wants that vote NO MATTER WHAT. Even if that vote is a signal ‘you won’t be prosecuted’ to the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers.
    -A party can not ‘disavow’ racist anti semitic homophobic notions in a cozy interview, while simultaneously handing the arsonist a lighter an a week.
    -When will the GOP of old, the Reagan GOP, when will they have a voice:? Why is Mike Pence ONE OF THE ONLY GOP members who openly says he defied the President because the President was WRONG. I’m no fan of Pence, however his loyalty to his oath – regardless that it put him danger ‘Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence.’ HOW THE F-CK are GOP members – invested deeply the closely conservative Republicans — how can they staySILENT, Fox pundits —- in THEIR OWN WORDS – again this not a ‘liberal conspiracy.’ People simply need to read the texts and read the Murdoch deposition. How is that no one in the GOP going door to door to show the MAGA folks the the 45th President and Fox News are patronizing, text each other about how ‘unsophisticated their audience’ and sleep at night, perpetuating a ‘tourist group at congress’. Venezuela tapped voting machines. The real truth is – if you read those texts – the gaslighting by Fox hosts is about not losing shares. Is about counting on their audience being ‘somewhat trashy and uneducated.’
    -Woud John McCain seat George Santos? George w. Bush? Dick Cheney? Bob Gates. Would they seat a guy raising money by crying at a mic imagining his mother escaping Auschwitz, looking at the TV ‘knowing his mother was in the South Tower.’ HE CO-OPTED THE DEATH OF 4,00O AMERICANS IN 0RDER RAISE MONEY. HE USED AN EXTERMINATION CAM TO RAISE MONEY.
    -But goddam : this is a perfect answer to the INARGUABLE FACT, that the USA GOP encouraged the beatings;stabbings mugagings of Jews. The murders of gay people. have you looked at the stats on JEWS ASIANS and GAYS during ’45s reign? Numbers are numbers.
    -I BY NO MEANS feel that Biden is some perfect figure. Nor do I feel that the MANY shady Democrats get away with so much that the People don’t even know.
    **I realize this a very long rant. I want to say that MANY of us are open minded and NOT married to the Dem party line.
    -But we will not discuss or debate these issues until the muggings, beatings, bullying, and murders of Jews, Gay, People of color. recede and stop.
    -There have been a number of truly sincere R’s and D’s who genuinely want to make life better.
    -Endorsing white supremacy, violent anti-semitism (the exact prelude to the Holocaust in Berlin 1939), legally disallowing equal safety to gay americans – how can we have the luxury of scrutinizing both parties fiscal plans, UNTIL WE STOP HERO WORSHIPPING one man who LITERALLY CALLED THE GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE ‘I JUST NEED YOU TO FIND 11,000 VOTES.’ THERE IS NO NUANCE THERE, HE ACTIVELY TRYING TO COERCERE PEPLE TO JOIN HIM THIS LIE. Fake electors?
    —maybe the GOP should soul search and think about WHY THEY LOST instead of refusing to accept it.

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BNM Writers

How KDKA Transformed Overnights to Grow Its Future and Reach Younger Audiences

“The overwhelming feedback has been positive. It makes us local, it gives us a bench … it makes the radio station’s brand bigger and connects us in different areas.”

Garrett Searight

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A photo of the cast of KDKA Next Take and the KDKA logo
(Photo: KDKA)

In February, venerable Pittsburgh news/talk station KDKA announced a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh that would see students from the college host a weekday overnight program.

The program — KDKA Next Take — is heard from 1-5 AM and replaced the nationally syndicated Red Eye Radio in the Audacy-owned station’s lineup.

A product of the imagination of Audacy Pittsburgh Senior Vice President and Market Manager Michael Spacciapolli, he believes the show has been a success in its early run.

“The show certainly offers a different perspective on the way that this generation looks at the world and from their viewpoint as opposed to other hosts who are in a different time in their life than them,” Spacciapolli said. “So we certainly are able to share a different point of view from them, while at the same time utilizing those points of view on social and getting them to really engage the radio station from a social perspective and hopefully engaging in and not just speaking to, but engaging people in that demographic, as well.”

Needing to attract younger audiences has been at the forefront of the news/talk radio industry for quite some time. Another issue discussed by leaders of the format are often centered around where stations will find the next crop of young talent.

With the partnership with Pitt, KDKA took the initiative to seek out those who might be interested in a radio career, rather than hope those potential employees found them.

“I’m always looking for great talent. Everything I do and in every aspect of the radio station, I’m looking for the most talented people. I’m always looking for where is the next great talent in everything we do,” said Spacciapolli. “This gives me the opportunity to have them working with us on an everyday basis and learning everything they do — from their work ethic, to their thought process, to their ideas. It gives me an opportunity to have our own ‘bench’ and have an opportunity to see where talent could come from in the future.

“There’s going to be talent there that we are potentially going to take a look at in different roles. Do they leave Next Take when their time is up on the show and do they immediately become full-time hosts? Probably not. But can they become part-time hosts? Sure,” he added. “Can they become producers? Absolutely. Can they become reporters? Can they become part-time reporters? Absolutely. Working with us gives us the opportunity to certainly move in that direction much more quickly and confidently than we would have previously.”

For decades, overnights were a proving ground for aspiring hosts. The daypart allowed for opportunities for young hosts and provided a low-pressure timeslot to experiment and hone your craft. But with the rise of automation and syndication, those positions have largely fallen by the wayside.

However, Audacy Pittsburgh looked at the partnership with the college and saw opportunity. The collaboration allows a younger generation access to the station that is largely dominated by older hosts and listeners.

Additionally, it provided even more local coverage to a station that prides itself of being “The Voice of Pittsburgh.” That factor wasn’t lost on Spacciapolli.

“A big part of my vision was it gave us the opportunity to be local, gave us the opportunity to be local overnight, which for me is how we win in this business is being local, staying local, talking to people in Pittsburgh about Pittsburgh, and this gave us the opportunity to do that on a pretty big scale and with fresh content every day.”

It would be natural for a full-time or even part-time employee of the Pittsburgh news/talk station to be jealous that a four-hour program was being given to college students. But that hasn’t been the case, Spacciapolli shared.

“The overwhelming feedback is very positive … Because there’s no expense it’s not like it’s somebody else could have been doing it. It would have continued to be syndicated if we weren’t able to do it through the partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. So it just makes the radio station’s brand bigger. It connects us in different areas and hopefully grows the brand and gets the brand younger.”

The program is recorded live-to-tape earlier in the day before airing in the 1-5 AM timeslot, which allows for some fine-tuning and takes the pressure off the radio novices, while also allowing them to helm a show instead of working in the wee hours of the night while trying to focus on their studies.

Spaccipolli shared that an overnight program hosted by college students interested in one day working in the industry doesn’t have to be proprietary to KDKA. He said there’s one deciding factor in the success of the endeavor.

“It’s about the relationships and the partnerships. And, fortunately, I have a great relationship with the University of Pittsburgh, they’re a great partner. I was able to get deep enough into this relationship with them and find ways to potentially make this work,” he stated.

“This is not easy. It’s not something you can pull off easily because, traditionally, I think, people think about it and they think, ‘Oh, there’s got to be significant expense.’ And in this situation, there’s not because that wouldn’t have fit our model for where it is and what we’re trying to do with it. So there isn’t that expense. You’re not gonna be able to make it work everywhere. Fortunately, we were able to do it here.”

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Jordan Peterson Has a New Model for Higher Education

“We built a social media network into the platform and we hope that it will be the best social media network that there is.”

Rick Schultz

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A photo of Jordan Peterson
(Photo: Jordan Peterson)

Is it time to give higher education a makeover? Yes – according to one of the world’s preeminent thought leaders — Jordan Peterson — who is changing the game for higher levels of learning.

A segment this weekend on Fox News Digital highlighted famed psychologist and author, Jordan Peterson, as he discussed his new mission to educate the masses in a new and innovative way through his new start-up, the Peterson Academy.

“So what have we got with Peterson Academy?” he began. “Well, it’s a University in that we feature the best University professors in the world. And I have the privilege of being able to call on such people and to make them a good offer and to have them participate avidly and to teach only what they really want to teach in the way they want to teach it.”

Peterson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, has written three books that have sold more than seven million copies. A simple online search will turn up many of his most notable philosophical monologues, covering such topics as morality, finances and culture. His massive worldwide following allows him to call on the best of the best to teach through his new venture.

“We bring them down to our studio in Miami or go to their home country to film them and we’ve produced, I think, the best courses that have ever been filmed. Not only in terms of their academic content but also in terms of the production quality. So very high-quality production levels, using animation and background images and all filmed in front of a live audience,” Peterson noted. 

Collaborating with students is old hat for Peterson. Throughout his career, he has taught some of the most highly regarded courses at Harvard and the University of Toronto. In addition, he has published more than a hundred scientific papers with his students and co-authors. And his material will not be the run-of-the-mill brainwashing many think their children receive at typical colleges and universities.

“Very focused courses. No politically correct nonsense,” Peterson said of the course material at Peterson Academy. “The opportunity for people to obtain a bachelor’s degree to begin with. We’re not accredited but we’re working on that, and we have ways of dealing with that that I can talk about.”

Due to government collusion through the student loan industry, costs for higher education have skyrocketed in recent decades. As many experts have pointed out, rising tuition costs are caused by the government’s insistence on saddling teenagers with astronomical debt loads. All to the benefit of mostly far-left universities and their personnel, who live off the taxpayer largess.

“We hope to bring down the price of a bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s degree equivalent by, like, 95 percent. And I think we can do that,” Peterson said optimistically. “But more than that, we have stellar lecturers and we have stellar courses. We have accreditation processes, examinations let’s say, that teach while the examinations are occurring.”

In his mind, however, the new organization will add much more value than just nuts and bolts education. 

“More than that, we’ve understood as we’ve assessed what a university does, that you think of a university as professors and lectures and exams. But that’s a small fraction of what a university does. A university provides young people a place to mature and a place to develop a new community of peers. And hypothetically a place to find a mate. And those are very valuable services that people don’t think about as the university,” Peterson said. 

The Peterson Academy is founded by Peterson and Mikhaila Fuller, and students can enter their email address on the website to be notified of the organization’s official launch. The site slates June as the official launch.

“Universities bring bright, young people who are ambitious together and they can meet each other. And so they form social network, they form romantic relationships. That’s part of the reason the universities can get away with charging, like, three hundred thousand dollars for a four-year degree,” Peterson told Fox News Digital. 

As part of his other work, The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast frequently tops the charts in the Education category. Peterson often creates memorable sound bites with his direct, common-sense approach to many of the more complex societal issues. For this, he has garnered a loyal tribe of followers, eager to hear his take on some of the more thorny issues facing the world. He has taken that same networking approach to begin building a following for his new university.

“We built a social media network into the platform and we hope that it will be the best social media network that there is. And for a variety of reasons I think we’ve taken the best features of the social media networks that currently exist,” he said. 

The Peterson Academy is tentatively set to launch this month, targeting a unique audience that seeks thoughtful, truth-based higher learning.

“We’re going to have a very specialized audience, right,” Peterson said. “It’s only going to be people that want to be educated and want to be educated in a manner that isn’t politically correct.”

Peterson told Fox News Digital, his new online university will “help people fulfill their desire to get a true education that they can’t find in today’s ‘demented’ and ‘unsalvageable’ universities, all at a much more affordable price.

As the world lurches back toward freedom of thought and educational choice free of liberal biases, Peterson summed up his organization’s thesis Saturday on a post on X.

“I would like to extend my thanks to the modern university (@Harvard and @Columbia in particular) for doing everything they can to make my endeavours both necessary and successful.”

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Do News Media Members Need a Copywriting Refresher?

Broadcast news, with very few exceptions, has gone over to the side of the cute and cuddly, the shiny and shocking, the “poke you with a stick to get your attention” society.

Bill Zito

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A photo of a dictionary page

We are in a banner year here already and we are barely halfway done. 2024 has already seen the 96th annual Academy Awards, the 75th Emmy Awards, the 77th Tony Awards but of course none of them can outshine last month’s release of the 57th edition of the Associated Press Stylebook for use of news media members everywhere.

(Yes, kids it’s out there. Buy it, collect it, trade it with your friends.)

I kid because I love. I think somebody has to set some rules so it might as well be the AP. Yes, I realize there’s also the Chicago Style Guide as well as a few others but really, there are Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, and their associates as well but I didn’t read those either.

I think the guides are great references and maybe they are the ultimate authority in a lot of cases but I’m fairly sure a scarce, few platforms outside of the giants in print pay them the mind they once did. I myself, stand in AP’s corner because they still shun the Oxford comma as any fine, upstanding outlet should be doing.

Besides, in TV and radio writing (Yes, TV News uses the written word on occasion) most everything said on air is written in all capitals while all accurate and dignified terminology is exchanged for sayings and slang like, “Creep,” “Accosted” and “Gunned Down.”

It’s the more outlandish words that get the attention of the audience and nobody is really concerned anymore with proper capitalization, tense, or even proper pronunciation.

(Yes, an overstatement on my part but with more than a hint of truth to it,)

In the new edition of the AP’s guide, there is much devoted to the use of words relating to law and justice, when and how to refer to those convicted of crimes and suspected of them as well.

Progress is good, right?

When is a criminal not a criminal but instead a person convicted of a crime?

Is it an assault weapon or is it not and does it matter when it comes to the story or the headline?

Is the teen a juvenile or is the child a minor and is using the wrong one hurtful or dehumanizing?

A rose by any other name…yes, yes, we get it.

Consider another identifier or descriptor that style guides might suggest if we followed them without impunity.

Is Mike Tyson a boxer who is also a convicted rapist or is convicted rapist Mike Tyson also a boxer?

I’m okay with growth and development in speech and description if for no other reason that over time it has gotten most of us to stop using words we shouldn’t be using and to start identifying people and circumstances as what they truly are.

Having never been formally schooled on AP style as I was not educated or raised as a journalist I’ve always played fast and loose with my writing and struggle with anything beyond the very standard first and second references and abbreviations.

Don’t get me started again on the Oxford comma as I’m still stopping random people on the street and asking people when and where that pretentious and superfluous bit of claptrap came about.

I offer nothing but praise for the noble newspaper reporters and editors as I largely consider the talented among them to be the last bastion of civilization in journalism.

Broadcast news, with very few exceptions, has gone over to the side of the cute and cuddly, the shiny and shocking, the “poke you with a stick to get your attention” society.

To reiterate, I like when there are rules and guidelines, as long as they are there for the right reasons. If you’re promoting accuracy and clarity, I’m on your team. If you’re latching on to an agenda, public interest pressure or political correctness which muddies the waters of truth, you and I have a problem.

I have often found myself at odds with some writing styles, sayings and/or manners of speech when it comes to reporting in general and it’s not always about grammar or AP stylistics.

Unless you can prove immediate malice or criminality, I take great exception when a journalist tells an audience a police officer gunned down a suspect especially referring to an officer involved shooting. It’s cool NYPD Blue talk but it’s misleading and inflammatory. Let’s wait for the investigation, okay?

Alleged is a great word. Overused, misused, a crutch used by those inexperienced and demanded by jitter news management who have no concept of the parameters of slander, defamation and libel.

Person of Interest and Suspect, both names of TV shows which is why the news media often gets them wrong when reporting about criminal activity. It’s certainly easy enough to check and learn how and when to use these words before you hit the air.

And finally, a personal favorite and one we can all remember and enjoy:  You don’t have to be the New York Post to call the police officer a cop to know that it’s not disrespectful.

Somebody somewhere once told somebody in news that cops don’t like to be called cops.

Of course, there are exceptions. As an ex-cop I can tell you that real cops don’t mind being called cops. Those who insist on being referred to as police officers at all times probably never got their uniforms dirty.

A cop is always a police officer, but a police officer is not always a cop.

Or to put it differently:

A Journalist is always a Member of the Press, but a Member of the Press is not always a Journalist.

Not long ago, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) lobbied hard (and succeeded) to have the media refrain from using the term, committed suicide, when describing a person taking their own life. The argument being that it tainted the act with criminality, contrition, or fault. The AP updated its guide to reflect the terms, completed suicide or the more often used, died by suicide and encouraged journalists to make use of these wordings along with “killed themselves” or “took their own life.”

As the husband of a wife (a retired police officer) who committed suicide, I have no objection to writing, saying, or hearing those words in describing the tragedy. In my viewpoint, it is what happened, and were it to be reported in the news, alternative language would not have made a bit of difference. I also have worked extensively with AFSP and other suicide prevention organizations over the years and I disagree with them on this point. But that’s all it is, a difference of opinion and a matter of perspective.

The idea of an organization, a political lobby, or corporate entity pushing the free press into a viewpoint or a particular way to tell a story does not leave me with feelings of comfort. That’s a larger concern of course when it comes to regulated style, less worrisome are where and when to use capital letters, accents, or quotes, but the ideas are still worthy of scrutiny by any of us who report what’s going on. 

The truth is still the truth and the masthead and byline, or their broadcast equivalent must stand by the story they are telling and the way they are telling it.

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