Monday, April 24, 2017

Redrum "News" - A Quick Way to Kill Your Credibility

     There is a disturbing trend occurring among liberals these days.  In many online communities, there are more fake news stories than you can shake a stick at.  Here, we’ll take a look at one specific piece of garbage news and the website that posted it.  Then we’ll finish in the next post with some food for thought about filling up on junk – whether it’s junk news or junk food.

     Recently, there was a story that made the rounds in social media about Trump’s imminent impeachment 1i that was so worthless that it should be labeled fake news 2.  There are many problems with this story, which we’ll reprint for you here.


A new report by The Guardian just broke the entire Trump-Russia scandal wide open! The U.S. has in their possession “specific concrete and corroborative evidence” proving there was collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials.

According to The Guardian, the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) began watching Trump’s team in 2015 after they noticed unusual “interactions” between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials.

Read an excerpt from the report below:
The problem is U.S. Intelligence agencies never did anything with the information, apparently they “were asleep.”
[The European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr. Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this. The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”
“It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.”"

     For this article, we will use the large, general mainstream media (MSM) outlets as a proxy for a baseline accuracy standard that reporting websites should aim for.  Not every mainstream source will be accurate in every story, and not every mainstream media source will be as good at informing its viewers, as the Farleigh-Dickinson polls (discussed and cited below) showed.  Mainstream sources do, however, adhere to journalistic standards; employ fact checkers; and issue corrections, retractions, and apologies.  That is a huge difference between the MSM and sites like this.  The inflammatory garbage that sites like this serve up as “journalism” is so far below what even Fox does that using MSM as a general standard works just fine 3.

Related Content from the Diogenetic Light

Articles in the Fake News Series:

     First, the story offers no support for the headline’s conclusion that “Impeachment is Just Around the Corner.”  Headlines are an integral part of a story and can be used just as much for propaganda as the main body of a story itself, as we also point out here.  In fact, the story itself does not even have the word “impeach” in it!  The severely partisan headline alone should because to suspect this story is not credible, especially since no major news outlet has reported anything of the sort recently.  Let’s ask ourselves, if there were credible evidence that there was an upcoming impeachment, would any network not report it?  Even Fox would cover it, if for no other reason than to put their hyper-conservative spin on it.

There is absolutely nothing in the story that indicates impeachment is coming at all. There are 3 good reasons for that too:
(1) Republican President,
(2) Republican House of Representatives, and
(3) Republican Senate.
Why claim that impeachment is coming when you don’t mention impeachment at all in the story? Can you say “click-bait”?

     A second problem with the story is the sourcing 4.  The source of the Redrum story is from a Guardian article ii.  Redrum mentions that it came originally from the Guardian, but fails to give proper credit with a citation or reference.  Citing one’s sources allows readers to double check the accuracy of the facts you give based on those sources.  A lack of citations and references should properly be seen as damaging a site's credibility.

      Redrum even goes as far as using an extended excerpt of the news story but calls it a report, which then creates an issue of ambiguous and poor writing.  The Redrum story is itself a report of a Guardian news report.  Also, there have been many news reports and intelligence reports that discussed Trump’s Russian ties.  Is this excerpt from the news story, or a report within the news story from a spy agency?  Since there is no proper link to the original story, it becomes difficult for people to assess the accuracy of the Redrum story, or, for that matter, what actually happened.

     Another problem is the nature of these so-called news sites.  The proper category for this kind reporting is a “digest.”  A digest is supposed to contain a condensed version of other literary works.  A digest is supposed to offer value to a reader by removing excess material that still gives the reader an accurate understanding of the digested piece.  A digest can be extremely useful for research.  Redrum’s headline, however, puts an idea in a reader’s head that is simply unsupported by the article, so it’s not properly digesting the news story.  Redrum’s shoddy reporting actually makes it necessary to fact-check their report and to go to the original source because they do such a poor job.  Thankfully, there is Google search to make it possible to look up the original source, but even that is extra time wasted because of their poor reporting.  Instead of adding value by saving the reader time, they actually increase the time required to have an accurate understanding of what was originally written.

Related Content: 

Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts, by NPR



     On July 27, 2017, Redrum posted an article titled “Kellyanne Conway Seen Leaving Scaramucci Office With Disheveled Hair to Conduct Fox News Interview.”  As one should expect, there are significant issues with this story as well.

This is the photo from the story.
Is this fair?
Are we such cavemen that we cannot see women as human beings?
How deplorable does a propaganda site have to be before we reject it?

     The title and screen shot are definitely trying to imply that Conway was engaged in some sort of sexual shenanigans with Scaramucci.  However, the story is about the leaking of Scaramucci's financial disclosures.  The article does not say a single thing about any kind of sexual impropriety at all.  This is out of line for a number of reasons.

     First, Conway could be Quasimodo and it would have absolutely no bearing on whether the policies she proposes are good or bad.  Isn't she allowed to have a bad hair day?  To look-shame anyone is to treat them as a mere object or a piece of property.  This dehumanizing goes against everything that liberals stand for and is shameful.  It should not be accepted in civil conversation by anyone - liberal or conservative.

     Second, people are believing the innuendo of the headline and not bothering to read the story.  There are comments that engage in look-shaming and slut-shaming Conway, and those are the majority of comments seen when this article is posted.  (We declined to screenshot comments for this update because so many were vulgar.)  What is the point of having an article if people don’t bother to read it?  Why bother learning how to read if one chooses not to read?  Why do we liberals accept such rampant stupidity amongst ourselves?

     Beyond that, there are many other reasons in the other articles from this series on fake news that we've written that we will not repeat them here.  In the end, this site does more than post propaganda.  It enrages people based on partisan lies.  It misleads our fellow liberals and locks them in a bubble that is just as partisan and fake as the conservative bubble that we've been dealing with for decades.  In short, this is toxic and we should call this out whenever we see it.

Now, back to the original article and its problems.


     There are more issues than just improper reporting here, however.  Media sources like the Guardian are dependent on advertising and subscriptions for revenue to continue investigating and informing the world.  Redrum “news”, is short-circuiting that by inserting itself between the real source and the reader.  Redrum has advertising on it, and so it is trying to make money as well.  Instead of doing something to offer extra value to the reader, however, they are stealing and repackaging the work done by other people while actually decreasing the value of the information presented.  Liberals are supposed to be the political faction of fact-based reality and basic morality.  We should not tolerate this kind of intellectual theft.  Also, for us liberals, we need good reporting to have an accurate picture of the world.  Without a shared reality and understanding of real facts, our nation’s lingering wounds from this election will never heal but instead will fester until it destroys us.

     Beyond the intellectual property theft, which is enough reason to avoid this source altogether, there is also the issue of accuracy.  Redrum proudly proclaims that they do not purvey fake news and that all their articles are fact checked.  Let’s take a look at their history and one story they reported to see if this claim is true.

How does Redrum purport to fact check the material they report?
Do they have reporters on the ground, are they verifying with other news agencies or reports?
Or are they just lying?

     Our investigation of Redrum was not difficult.  It is a WordPress blog site and its history is all there for anyone to see.  Being a blog does not automatically damage the site’s credibility.  We here at the Diogenetic Light operate as a blog, and the Daily Kos, one of the most widely read liberal web sites, is also a blog iii.  What damages one’s credibility is dishonesty and shoddy reporting.  One of the first things we noticed that was unusual was Redrum’s website address:

     The unusual website address is due to the way this blog began and can be inferred from the site's history.  One thing about a blog is that it can’t change its web address.  So, we started looking through the history of this blog.  It started out as a blog that was collecting stories of missing and kidnapped people.  Its inaugural post was on May 15, 2016 iv.  For a while, they reported pretty exclusively on missing people but began to branch out with other stories about serial killers.  It seems that missing people, kidnappings, and serial killers were not drawing enough of an audience to generate their desired ad revenue, so they began to branch out further 5.  On September 14, 2016, for example, they posted this wonderful story about 22 corpses befouling the Flint River 6.

They even claimed that Jimmy Hoffa was believed to be among the recovered corpses.

     There are so many problems with this story that it nearly requires a roll of a dice to decide where to begin.  For starters, let’s go back to their plagiarism problem, for starters.  This story was not written by Redrum originally; it was written by News4KTLA, a known fake news website v, except here there was absolutely no attribution to the original writers.  Beyond the intellectual property theft, let’s take a quick look at the factual accuracy of Redrum’s report.

     In the first paragraph, Redrum says there were 22 bodies “in the lake,” and that the “corner’s office” was investigating the identity of the victims.  The title of their story says the bodies were in the Flint river, not a lake.  Also, CEO’s, in their corner offices, don’t usually conduct investigations.  Coroners, however, do.  It also tries to tie the alleged dead bodies to the Flint water crisis.  The Flint water crisis had nothing to do with dead bodies in the water.  The water became toxic due to switching the city from water out of Lake Huron to the Flint River without using proper corrosion control methods.  If they had any questions about the facts of this article, Snopes did a nice job of fact-checking it back when this story was first making its rounds.  This is not just dishonest reporting, it also obscures the reasons for the absolutely preventable suffering of thousands of people in Flint, MI.  It adds to the bias that the people of the Detroit Metropolitan area are incompetent and corrupt.  This false stereotype goes back decades to when Detroit was a predominant center of black culture with Motown.  Don't be fooled, if we search the history just a little, then we will find racism at the core of this venally vitriolic vilification.  As liberals, not only should this disgust us for the dishonesty but also because it needlessly contributes to the unnecessary suffering of others.

     In the last paragraph, Redrum says that at least 4 of the bodies had been there 40 years or more.  This is just stupid, even for a hoax.  A corpse will not last that long.  As Scientific American relates here, bodies don’t last that long, even in the water.  It took us all of 10 seconds to Google search the question and about 4 minutes to read Scientific American’s explanation.  So much for fact-checking, and so much for anyone using this site having any credibility.

     Apparently, serial killer stories still weren’t enough to grab a decent readership, but, as luck would have it, they posted a story about a delusional man who shot a UPS driver but thought he was shooting president-elect Trump.  That story must have attracted many viewers because a couple weeks later, on January 15, 2017, they ran (plagiarized? stole?) a story on a boycott of Trump brands.  A couple days later they ran another story with an anti-Trump slant, and, within a few days after that, the transition to an anti-Trump click-bait site was complete.

     In the end, Redrum “News” is just a click-bait garbage website that willingly steals content and posts known fake news and propaganda.  People who read from this web site risk having their minds misled by lies.  People who post from it risk losing their credibility.  For everyone, garbage websites like this waste everyone’s time.  The next time someone posts an article from a click-bait site like this, please consider better ways to spend your time other than reading such garbage: reading a news story from a reputable source; reading a book; calling or sending a message to a friend or loved one; catching up on a TV series that you like; calling your local Senator or Representative; volunteering with a social activism cause; volunteering with a political party (don’t like the Dems, then check out the Greens!); trimming your toenails; and, last but not least, cleaning lint from your belly button.  All of those would be a better use of your time, though some would undoubtedly be better than others.

Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to leave comments below.  You can also share with the buttons below, or, if you want to get the latest posts right away, you can click on the "Follow" button at the top right of this page.

If you need a break from all the nastiness and chaos, and you need a laugh, you can check out this piece here:
North Carolina Bans Bigfoot from Public Restrooms

If you're interested in learning how liberals can get better at messaging to win the war of ideas, check out the 4 part series starting with:
Don't Call It TrumpCare

Written by Jeramee Sikorski
Terry McDevitt Bakke also contributed to this story. 

1I strongly hope that people do not go to the website. I spent more time there than I would prefer, and would hate to see them get any more web traffic than they already have.

2Some organizations that specialize in evaluating news bias and fake news are more charitable and thorough. For example, some have a category that specifically looks at article titles that misrepresent the content of a story through the story’s title. After reviewing Redrum “News,” we believe that is far more charity than this pathetic click-bait site deserves.

3Before any liberal partisans accuse me of trying to make Fox look respectable, no, it’s not. I’ve developed a pretty decent spin (and bullshit, in the technical sense) detector. Nearly every time I read a Fox news article that someone posts as support for some proposition, I find multiple issues with the article ranging from extreme spin to outright falsehoods. It’s gotten so bad that I no longer remember reading a Fox News article that I didn’t have to fact check and then find wrong on either fact, analysis, or extreme bias. Fox is not a credible source of news.

4We here at the Diogenetic Light make a concerted effort to both fact check and cite our sources. While we don’t adhere to APA style or Bluebook, we ensure that readers may see our sources if they choose. If we ever miss a cite, let us know in the comments or email us, and we’ll fix it.

5Full disclosure: we don’t know for an unequivocal, absolute fact that the only motivation for the change in reporting, or even the existence of this blog, is just to generate ad revenue. However, given the shoddy and fallacious reporting coupled with what we know as bloggers, the inference to the best evidence strongly suggests nothing less than a pecuniary motivation.

6Nope, not going to bother linking this story. This website is garbage and does not need more traffic. You can also find it at the original 4-ktla website that originally peddled this fake story.

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