Concerned that the product their peddling is so transparently dishonest it’s turning away consumers, media outlets are turning to bullshit tracing to vet the quality of its misinformation. In recent weeks, CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have hired dozens of bullshit tracers in an effort to ensure their deceptive stories are backed up by rock-solid sourcing.
“If you’re going to put something out there that is misleading or untrue, you’ve got to make sure when you trace back the bullshit, it holds up to scrutiny,” said one CNN producer. “Too many times we see our stories fall apart after some non-journalist digs a little deeper below the surface, or provides some context.”
The move comes after both CNN and the Washington Post have settled defamation lawsuits brought by Covington Catholic teen Nick Sandmann. Sandmann is now 2-0 in his defamation battles against a number of high profile media outlets.
“What this shows is we have to do better. Not that we need to stop being deceptive, or that we need to tell the whole story rather than just the tiny bit that suits a narrative we’re pushing, but that we need to make sure our bullshit is impenetrable. If the reader can cut through it, then we’re not doing our jobs,” said a Washington Post editor.
While the New York Times has not had to endure the wrath of the Sandmann, its own bullshit reporting has been called out by respected historians and high-profile editorial staff.
“The truth to bullshit ratio is something that is very important to us,” said a Times editor. “We’re constantly striving to find that balance between what feels right versus what is born out by facts. We think bringing in these bullshit tracers is going to help us strike that balance of misinformation backed up by an adequate amount of honest reporting.”
Not everyone is thrilled to have the content of their reporting traced for exposure to bullshit. Rumors abound of a mutinous NY Times newsroom where young journalists resent having their lived-experience reporting subjected to tracking and scrutiny. Some are openly hostile toward the bs tracers, claiming they create an unsafe work environment.
“Maybe someday we’ll have a return to normal, but for now, the bullshit tracers are necessary because the threat is too great,” said the Times editor. “The Sandmann could enter at any moment and haul us all off to never-never land.”