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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
, 15 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Yesterday The Daily Caller deliberately buried its lede on Papadopoulos' wife—you had to dive deep to see Mueller was investigating Papadopoulos as an Israeli agent. I found the buried lede, tweeted about it, and the tweet went viral. Today the Washington Post is running with it.
2/ This is not the second but the third time I've found a deliberately buried lede in stories by The Daily Caller. Each story was reframed to be helpful to Trump and obscure the fact The Daily Caller had accidentally uncovered information deeply damaging to Trump and his allies.
3/ The Daily Caller is not a media outlet. It's a propaganda organ so *devastatingly bad at what it does* that it on numerous occasions has accidentally offered the very best reporting on the Trump-Russia investigation to be found in the United States. There's a lesson there.
4/ I teach my journalism students that the old polarities are dead—even subjectivity and objectivity, even the clear divide between real and fake news—but that a smart journalist can become a better and more responsible and accurate journalist by appreciating what has happened.
5/ We laughed when Tommy Lee Jones said, in Men in Black, that The National Enquirer had the best reporting on Earth—literally. But that scene must be taught to journalism students in a complex way that most conventional journalists would fail to appreciate or might even scorn.
6/ Different journalistic modes—even different journalistic ethoi—produce different types of information. Some is factual, some is a mix of fact and fiction, some is instructive almost exclusively because it's counter-factual. Information transfer is a devilishly complex concept.
7/ The Daily Caller isn't a fake news outlet—but it *is* a propaganda outlet terrible at what it does. Propaganda is an immoral journalism-adjacent research methodology that on occasion accidentally produces a type of info conventional journalism understandably wouldn't look for.
8/ I read The Daily Caller regularly because when it reaches for propaganda and misses it sometimes develops extraordinary anti-Trump scoops that it then must deliberately bury deep within its stories. Its Simona Mangiante interview was *total BS*—and extraordinarily instructive.
9/ The Daily Caller interviewed Mangiante because it believed she'd offer a narrative that would support Trump's war on the FBI and the simultaneous war being waged on TV and radio by Trump's allies. But it doesn't know the Trump-Russia story well enough to see the danger there.
10/ Post-internet cultural theory and experimental digital journalism—both of which I teach—underscore that only by transcending received journalistic polarities can we maximize the accuracy of American digital journalism. So yes, I'm proud that I regularly read The Daily Caller.
PS/ I'd urge not just The Washington Post but all U.S. news consumers to first gain the maximum amount of "field" knowledge of the Trump-Russia investigation and then stay attuned to all sorts of different journalistic modes and ethoi to maximize our collective access to scoops.
PS2/ How to bury a lede:
1. Get an interview that nets one piece of new, relevant, non-self-serving info.
2. Keep it from your headline (90%+ of readers are headline-only).
3. Mention it at the end of a sentence in graf #1.
4. Mention it in graph #9 of 46 grafs—and never again.
PS3/ Lede-burying isn't only about graf placement—it's about lede identification, heads, sub-heads, story structure. Trump-Russia journalists with "field" knowledge would see Mangiante had given The Daily Caller *one* lede. A graf #9 mention—of 45 grafs post-#1—is a buried lede.
PS4/ I called The Daily Caller lede-burying "deliberate" because the lede was mentioned at the end of graf #1 and in a mini-graf (graf #9) and never again in 46 grafs. Had it only appeared in, say, graf #43, you might say The Daily Caller "missed" its lede. They *missed* nothing.
PS5/ That's another reason I know The Daily Caller is propaganda posing as news—it buries ledes with plausible deniability. Journalists craft stories around ledes—no journalist would handle this lede as TDC did, but if attacked it can say graf-placement exonerates it. It doesn't.
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