“…become a wiser consumer of information, in an increasingly artificial and paid for reality,” said investigative journalist,” Sharyl Attkisson in the TEDx Talk posted below. This intriguing talk has had over 1 million views.
Attkisson is “a five-time Emmy Award winner, a recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting and a fourth degree black belt in TaeKwonDo,” says Amazon.
In under 11 minutes, Attkisson – whose work the Daily Business News on MHProNews has cited numerous times, lays out real and hypothetical examples of how research, studies, news, and social media can all be astroturfed or manipulated by special interests, that seek to advance their own agendas.
Without denying the potential value of other journalists, fact-check sites like Snopes, or that Wikipedia may have good information on it, Attkisson lays out evidence of the methods she’s uncovered by he research that are used to twist what may seem on the surface to be sound information.
Astroturfed spin can then skew what reporters, fact-checkers, or research sites produce, she explains.
It is all done to shape the view of reality of readers and viewers, says Attkisson, to accomplish someone’s or some organization’s hidden agenda. She mentions – among the tools that are used by astroturfers – nonprofit groups that are funded by semi-hidden third parties that seek to advance and agenda for their own obvious gain.
Noting that Kevin Clayton touted their use of nonprofits in the video on the page linked here, we will return to other points of how her TEDx talk applies to manufactured housing shortly.
Clues to Spot Misinformation
But first, what are the clues that someone might look for to spot manipulated information?
When one hears an echo chamber effect from several sources that all say the same thing, does that make the information reliable? Or is that echo chamber itself a flag for Astroturfed and manipulated information that seeks to advance a hidden agenda?
Here’s her TEDx video.
Quotes and Pointers For Savvier Consumption of News and Views
“Hallmarks of astroturfing include the use of inflammatory language” says Attkisson. Examples she gives include ‘crank, quack, nutty, lies, paranoid, and conspiracy.’ For the multiple award-winning Attkisson, evidence is what should matter.
- “Astroturfers claim to debunk myths that aren’t myths at all.” She explains that use of charged language “tests well” with audiences.
- Without using the phrase ‘ad hominem attacks’ that is precisely what she is describing that is often done to target people, personalities, or organizations – when facts are not being examined, or are being deliberately ignored. Demonstrable facts and evidence should be the focus, says Attkisson. People can better draw valid conclusions based on facts, not hyperbole or highly charged but deceptive dodges.
- “Most of all, Astroturfers reserve all of their public skepticism for those exposing wrongdoing, rather than the wrongdoers.” Instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority, says Attkisson.
- By following her tips, she compares it to taking off your smudged glasses, properly cleaning them, and realizing how foggy the vision has been.
In this video, Attkisson says she can’t resolve the problem, but hopes people will be motivated to take of those proverbial glasses and wipe them, to become a wiser consumer of information, in an increasingly artificial and paid for reality.
With that tee up, let’s look at a specific example of how this applies to manufactured housing today. Because the nation is in an affordable housing crisis. Yet the most proven solution is being largely marginalize and ignored. A partial explanation for how that is being accomplished is suggested in part by her TEDx Talk video.
How Attkisson’s Lesson Applies to Manufactured Housing, Impacting Business and Homeowners Alike
MHProNews opens with that this Monday morning, 3.11.2019 for very specific reasons. Let’s give one example. The money trail that funds the left-wing activist group MHAction reveals traces back in part to funding by Warren Buffett connected foundations and nonprofits, such as the Tides Foundation. MHAction was decried by others who hold a similarly ‘progressive’ agenda, because they have made false claims, said the president of the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League (GSMOL).
On seemingly the opposite side of the fence from MHAction is the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). That Arlington, VA based business trade group says it represents “all segments of factory-built housing.” But it very obviously gets a large amount of funding from Berkshire Hathaway owned brands, like Clayton Homes, 21 Mortgage, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), Shaw Carpeting, and others. MHI and MHAction each are getting dollars from the same deep pockets that originate in Omaha, NE.
The net result of MHAction or MHI interaction – or lack of the same – with the media on specific issues often helps shape news coverage. The question that journalists ought to be asking, using Attkisson logic, should include what is the agenda behind the money?
Yesterday, in an analysis by industry expert and MHProNews publisher, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, he made the point that if Buffett wanted the compelling facts about manufactured housing to be clearly known, he has the resources to make that possible. Yet, more than 15 years since he has purchased Clayton Homes and other part of the industry, manufactured housing is at a lower sales level than it was when he made his acquisitions and billions in investments.
A logical conclusion from the known facts and evidence is that Buffett, Clayton et al want to keep the industry depressed, as they buy up pieces at a discounted value while avoiding antitrust scrutiny. See the full analysis linked here.
Time and again, what MHI and their surrogates do is continue to spew their party line, while ducking authentic discussion or debate over their practices and clearly poor results. Attkisson’s TedX talk helps clarify the methodologies used by MHProNews, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) and others like the newly formed National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) who tired of MHI excuses, after years of failed performance.
Attkisson’s tip will help bring into focus some of the larger forces at play that influence our industry, and the nation at large. That’s this morning’s “New Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes, and Factory-Built Housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, commentary.)
NOTICE 2: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two browsers do.
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