In a totalitarian system where the news is closely coordinated to produce particular narratives, the narrative is always false but there can be interesting tidbits between the lines.
That’s usually the case with ex-Buzzfeeder Ben Smith whose job is writing a media spin column for the New York Times which pretends to “explain” things when it actually tries to reframe them or advance a particular narrative. But here comes an interesting bread crumb.
On Friday afternoons this fall, top American news executives have dialed into a series of off-the-record Zoom meetings led by Harvard academics whose goal is to “help newsroom leaders fight misinformation and media manipulation.”
Those are hot topics in the news industry right now, and so the program at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy drew an impressive roster of executives at CNN, NBC News, The Associated Press, Axios and other major U.S. outlets
A couple of them, though, told me they were puzzled by the reading package for the first session. It consisted of a Harvard case study, which a participant shared with me, examining the coverage of Hunter Biden’s lost laptop in the final days of the 2020 campaign.
The rest of this is the usual political spin.
Shorenstein’s research director, Joan Donovan, who is leading the program and raised its funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, said that the Hunter Biden case study was “designed to cause conversation — it’s not supposed to leave you resolved as a reader.”
The Knight Foundation’s politics are exactly the ones you expect.
The Hunter Biden element here is only interesting insofar as it’s the focus of a session of a program funded by a left-wing foundation that trains the media on how to suppress conservative narratives and scandals focusing on their political allies.
The real lede here is that the media’s suppression efforts are being coordinated. But that’s not what the media sees as the story.