Last week, several prominent members of corporate media outlets held a seminar on “disinformation” at the University of Chicago. The symposium, called “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy”, featured media figures such as CNN’s Brian Stelter, The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, and The Dispatch’s Jonah Goldberg. The premise of the conference was to emphasize the need for a trustworthy media and to show how “disinformation” is dangerous for democracy.
Members of the University of Chicago’s right-of-center newspaper, The Chicago Thinker, attended the event and grilled the hosts about their own deviation from the facts. Daniel Schmidt, a U of Chicago freshman and writer at the newspaper, asked Applebaum about mainstream media’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story, adding that those outside of the “Fox News bubble” likely did not have a strong understanding of the situation and that it likely affected people’s voting decision in 2020. “Do you think the media acted inappropriately when they instantly dismissed Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation, and what can we learn from that to ensure that what we label as disinformation is truly disinformation, and not reality?”, Schmidt asked.
WATCH The Atlantic’s @anneapplebaum refuse to answer @RealDSchmidt‘s question about Hunter Biden’s laptop during @UChicago’s “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference! pic.twitter.com/1OgXBBiiI0
— The Chicago Thinker (@ThinkerChicago) April 6, 2022
Applebaum deflected the question. “My problem with Hunter Biden’s laptop is, I think, totally irrelevant.” She continued, “It’s not whether it’s disinformation. I don’t think that Hunter Biden’s business relationships have anything to do with who should be President of the United States, so I don’t find it to be interesting.”
It is notable that The Atlantic, despite Applebaum calling the laptop story uninteresting, ran pieces smearing anyone who rigorously covered it as purveyors of “disinformation”. After the clips from the symposium went viral, Applebaum blocked The Chicago Thinker on Twitter.
— The Chicago Thinker (@ThinkerChicago) April 9, 2022
Stelter also received a pointed question from Christopher Phillips, another writer at The Chicago Thinker.
— The Chicago Thinker (@ThinkerChicago) April 7, 2022
Phillips called out Stelter and CNN for smearing SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a rapist, Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann as a white supremacist, as well as perpetuating the Trump-Russia collusion and the Jussie Smollett hoaxes, all while dismissing the Hunter Biden laptop story as “Russian disinformation”. Phillips asked Stelter directly, “With mainstream corporate journalists becoming little more than apologists and cheerleaders for the regime, is it time to finally declare that the canon of journalistic ethics is dead, or no longer operative?”
Stelter, like Applebaum, deflected the question, calling Phillips’ legitimate grievances about CNN a “popular right-wing narrative.”
Continuing with the theme of the “disinformation” seminar, Stelter then talked about how the media needs to “protect democracy.” Stelter even gave an anecdote about how CNN and New York Times journalists quit their work to help a wounded Fox News correspondent in Ukraine, suggesting that this supposed good deed has anything to do with the corporate media’s repeated lies and malfeasance.