Two weeks after a so-called “advocacy journalist” pretended to be a conservative billionaire in a call with Wisconsin's lefty hatin’ governor, a couple of activists pretended to represent a fake Islamist group in a meeting with righty hatin’ NPR executives.
What’s going on out there? This:
Reality media has evolved into the new gotchaism. | This was inevitable. Reality content is far more exciting – and commercially valuable -- when the cleaning lady turns out to be the CEO, the volunteer turns out to be a multimillionaire, and the liberal donor turns out to be a conservative front group with a secret camera.
Mainstream media is more than happy to let activists and propagandists create news. | Remember those quaint times when news outlets considered not running stories that originated from unsavory sources like the National Enquirer? Cute. Those days aren’t just over, they’ve been replaced with a new ethic of anything goes. Today a surreptitious video posted on YouTube can carry just as much weight as the trench coat-donning reporter on the scene. In today’s hyper-competitive news media market, the questionable means to good content has become just another aspect of covering a controversy.
Disingenuousness is a PR problem waiting to happen. The goal of gotchaism is to catch corporate execs, politicians, thought-leaders and institutions being true to the agendas their opponents accuse them of hiding. You’re going to see many more hidden-identity stunts like the NPR sting, and more investigations like the one that uncovered prominent professors who had been paid by Gaddafi's PR machine to write positive things about Libya’s democratic potential.
The new era of opposition outing isn’t targeting just your actions. It’s challenging the validity of your public persona.
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