I have a new column at Columbia Journalism Review on how bored reporters and social media can hype fake controversies and spread misinformation. Here's how it begins:
When Rick Santorum suspended his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on Tuesday, he removed any remaining doubt that Mitt Romney would be the Republican presidential nominee. The result is a news vacuum that can easily be filled by spin and misinformation.
Consider the ridiculous debate over comments made on CNN about stay-at-home moms by Hilary Rosen, which dominated the news cycle and the political Twittersphere yesterday. As NBC’s First Read points out, while “manufactured controversies are nothing new in American politics,” what is new “is how much faster and professionalized—due to Twitter and the drive to make something go viral—these manufactured controversies have become.” Such controversies can be especially potent as we enter what First Read calls “silly season.” When few competing stories exist and political reporters are starved for material, any whiff of scandal or controversy can create a feeding frenzy. A bored media is dangerous for politicians.
Read the whole thing for more.