Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I think this is very naive. Russia lists a number of true things about its opponents but it only includes the truths that fit the story it wants to tell. The same goes for China, and even the U.S.

What people here are asking is: "what is the story Wikileaks is trying to tell". Before they thought it was that "government is not trustworthy and needs a watchdog". Now it's possible the story is "Don't trust anyone who disagrees with Trump or Russia", and that's concerning.

This problem is instantly saolved if you have more than one source. The answer to this is not "IGNORE WIKILEAKS," and the suggestion that it is makes me doubt your motives, the answer is "READ MULTIPLE SOURCES."

There are far more than enough actors with far more than enough relevant information, and certainly the capacity to distribute that information, to fill in the gaps.


You can't do that when Wikileaks is the only source.

The problem is that other sources are not willing to perform the kinds of investigations and do the sort of publications Wikileaks and few others are willing to do.

When Snowden approached CNN, the Times and a number of other large media outlets they attempted to report him to the Feds rather than report on the domestic and global mass surveillance programmes.

The incentives, partnerships, timelines and ethics of major media outlets prevent them from speaking truth to power.

If the story was incomplete do you honestly believe we wouldnt find that out? I dont.


1) Wikileaks provides evidence of wrongdoing

2) You respond "Its possible evidence that proves this isnt wrongdoing exists"

Your position seems to be roughly meaningless and the only justification I see to take it on is ideological.

It's plausible that WL is selectively holding back documents on e.g. Russian activities in Syria. No one would have the power and incentive to leak those documents separately, so WL could portray an incomplete story.

It's not plausible that WL unfairly portrayed Podesta and the DNC by incomplete leaking. The leak targets have both the power and incentive to clarify any serious misrepresentation by releasing the context they already possess.

Somehow, I keep seeing people give the Syria example, then claim that we should disregard even the US-domestic leaks because "there could be context we don't have!" It doesn't make much more sense than saying "sure, the murder suspect didn't offer any defense, but maybe he has an alibi he never bothered to mention!"

The CIA could surely filll in the gaps if they wanted to, at the very least through leaks to any of the media organizations that would like to see them succeed.

Exactly! People say: "I think Wikileaks is not a neutral party". Dude, NO ONE is a neutral party. This thing doesn't exist! All sources have bias!

> All sources have bias

Some are more biased than others. I think that's actually what people are discussing: how biased is Wikileaks? How heavily curated is the information they are releasing? Throwing up your hands and saying everyone is biased is a lazy answer to a difficult problem.

Right. But it's curious that "How biased is CNN?" gets shut down any time it comes up as a serious topic. From the whitewashing they did on the genocide in Bahrain (after accepting money from that government) to the misleading coverage of Syria, Snowden's mass surveillance disclosures, US torture program, Iraq War - to its current poor coverage of the humanitarian crisis being caused by the US intervention in Mosul.

It would be wonderful to discuss the role that different outlets play and different biases come in. But it's difficult because any time the topic comes up "faithfuls" from all sides come in and it starts to look more like a sports or religion debate than it does an illuminating conversation.

Yeah, Wikileaks has some biases.

I actually think they are incredibly important biases. Also, I don't think they are nearly as "anti-American" as some panic about.

There is now some data showing one way CNN is biased --Breitbart and Fox News seed the media environment with disinformation, and eventually mainstream outlets pick up that disinformation. (Torture is a good example - the right really wanted to bury discussion and largely did).


Another way to say this: only one side is willing to blatantly lie. Luckily media outlets are starting to realize that and moving to coverage of the truth not just what people say.

This is whataboutism. (it may be inadvertent)

Firstly - On HN people do bash the media, but its based on the context of the conversation.

So on a discussion on wikileaks, very few people are going to make the side jump to criticizing the other media channels.

I don't think it is whataboutism in general. (It probably is if it's specifically targeting the HN thread, but that's now how I read it.) It's not just waving at someone else's misbehavior, it's noting that a double standard (examine bias in case A, acknowledge but ignore it in case B) is producing an agenda.

In mainstream discussions, there's a pattern of discussing WL bias against a baseline of whatever American mass media says. To repurpose a point from up-thread, that creates a situation where "how biased is WL?" is both a legitimate question and a misleading distraction.

If you want to create an informative media diet, you might ask "how biased is each source, in which direction?" You won't find objective truth, but asking that at least lets you curate inputs so that you won't have important information from any side go completely unmentioned. Lots of people I know do this, adding up equations like "NYT and Intercept both skew left, but one is largely pro-government and one anti-. BBC is moderately pro-government, but since it's a different government it reports US news better." Asking about Wikileaks is vital in that context.

If you want to distract from unpleasant facts, you might ask "How biased is Wikileaks in the direction of Russia?" And then the answer is treated as inherent bad - the more biased, the less attention should be paid. "All news is biased" is defeatism, but "all news is biased, how biased is Wikileaks?" is still manipulative because it ignores the magnitude of non-WL bias. I see that trick used a lot when US politicians and reporters cover Wikileaks, and it smuggles in an that we don't need to seek balance, just exclude a few too-biased voices.

My purpose was to talk about biases of media outlets in general rather than discuss the biases of one particular media outlet (Wikileaks).

Wikileaks has important biases. So does CNN. Wikileaks does important reporting. So does CNN.

Of course these are just two outlets. I don't mean to focus just on the two.

(Of the two I think Wikileaks would be the most missed, were it to disappear.)

My point is that it is incredibly important to discuss and take into account the biases of the outlets information is being published by. This is how I intended to discuss the bias of CNN and if you look you will see I brought this up under the context of the parent comments of my own. Namely, it is not quid pro quo.

Every news medium, even you as a human being, makes intentional and unintentional selections on what to publish or not. As long as the published documents are not fakes (and independent sources verified them), motives are secondary.

If what is published is true, projecting motives in the publisher are an obvious attempt to distract from the message by questioning the messenger. The message is a fact, your interpretation of the messenger is at best guesswork, at worst fanfiction.

What exactly is difficult here?

Are there? Because the only big ones I hear about are Wikileaks.

(I certain that more groups exist, but really, I can't name any others.)

The media.

I think a lot of what's being construed as political bias from Wikileaks is simply optimizing for maximum impact. They want their leaks to be felt, to have real-world results. If they were to just dump everything months before the election, they'd be long forgotten by the time the election had come and gone.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact