Today, “sources say” that tRump tweeted the following:
Which is absolutely ridiculous, because often a news site will introduce their sources, and then simply refer to them as “sources” or they’ll protect the identity of the source (so they can be a source later, or so they don’t get killed or fired). I’m not saying that there aren’t news media outlets who fake their sources. But a blanket statement saying that the phrase “sources say” is indicative of a lying journalist can’t possibly be true.
I started to search a few media sources off the top of my head, and here’s what I found:
But to be honest, I couldn’t think of very many. I don’t look for news, I don’t know what news sites are out there and I wanted to have a clearer picture of how often they use that phrase.
So I searched for a list of news sources, and chose the first result
Keep in mind that this list was compiled in 2014 or something and Trumpistan has turned the world on it’s head, so some of these publications may have shifted their alignment.
Anyway, so now I had a list. And after I removed the dead links from the list, I ended up with 71 news outlets.
Tracking the results was easy with Airtable. It’s a cloud-based database that looks like a spreadsheet. I basically use it for everything.
With my fancy database, I entered the names and URLs of each website and indicated their alignment (according to Daily Kos in 2014)
And then I began the laborious task of searching each of these sites with Google, for the phrase “sources say.” A lot of people don’t know that you can put quotation marks around your search term so that you don’t end up finding every page that has the word “sources” and every page that has the word “say.” Imagine what a mess that would have been. You can also limit the search to ONLY what google finds on one domain, so for this project, I entered the following term into the search bar:
"sources say" site:alternet.org
I added a column to my database to track how many times the phrase appeared in each news site.
Here are the results:
The worst offender was Newsweek, with 36,900 appearances of the phrase. According to tRump, that means that Newsweek is “fake news” which is funny because no one really thought they were real, right?
The only two outlets that passed tRump’s news purity test were Earthfiles and Exopolitics.
Funny, I’ve never heard of these. Kos has them listed as conspiracy sites, but according to the #NotMyPresident litmus test, these must be the only media outlets that aren’t tainted by “fake news.”
So I decided to poke around their websites and see what else I could learn from these oh-so reputable resources.
Earthfiles describes themselves as “an award-winning news website where experts, eyewitnesses and viewers share the latest updates in earth and astronomical mysteries. Beginning in 1999, Earthfiles now has more than 2,000 science, environment and Real X-Files reports in chronological sequence that include more than 20,000 images and documents in the growing Archive and ever-increasing current news. The in-depth reports go beyond the 6 o’clock news. Earthfiles Reporter and Editor, Linda Moulton Howe, is an Emmy Award-winning TV producer, investigative reporter for radio and internet and author who goes directly to the men and women at the forefront of science and environmental breakthroughs and to firsthand eyewitnesses of high strangeness.” (capitalization was left intact)
Whatever “high strangeness” is, I think I just witnessed it. Still, seems harmless enough. Here’s the top news piece listed on their front page, just beneath an ad for a book about how all the nazis turned into Muslims.
Hmmmmm, tRump says they’re reputable because they don’t use the phrase “sources say” but I’m not convinced. Maybe the other “not fake news” site will be more interesting.
It’s definitely more interesting, what with claims that The Vatican and the US Military are working together to hide aliens from outer space.
What do we make of all this? Is tRump trying to tell us something?
My data tells me that the conspiracy sites use the term “sources say” less than any other type of news media, at only 697 per publication. The second runner up is Left-wing publications, with an average of 945 appearances of the term.
The Neutral and Center aligned publications were the worst offenders (and honestly, I don’t know what the difference between Neutral and Center would be, but whatever. This isn’t really science. It’s fake science, trust me. Neutral sites had an average of 5286 instances of “sources say” and Center-aligned sites had an average of 3425.
Also, according to this non-scientific data, Right-aligned sites averaged 2071 “sources say” moments while Left-aligned sites averaged 945.
So, according to tRump, the top 5 most reputable news sources are
- Earth Files
- Rolling Stone Politics
- Center for American Progress
So there you have it. And if you’d like to access my Airtable Database to check the numbers, you can click on the images below: