“Trump lawyer accuses Clinton of murder in tweet” is a headline we ourselves see in a tweet. Clickbait, right? Instant clickbait, the kind we chastise ourselves for clicking on, too weak not to peek when really, we should be saving our precious reading time and gray matter for say, a longform piece, some progress on a book we’re reading, anything other than what we’re about to click on.
With a heavy but silent sigh, we click. The headline, we discover, was lacking in a bit of crucial specificity—probably because it would make it too long, and also, would you click on something along the lines of, “Trump lawyer Michael Cohen tweets a badly-designed meme created by a group called Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children that alleges Clinton murdered an ambassador”?
The question is not quite as rhetorical as it may seem because a few orgs did follow that route, minus the “badly-designed” part of the headline. That would be editorializing, and we should let people decide for themselves whether the meme’s production quality was worse than usual.
It’s just like how the neutrality of the “lawyer/accuses/Clinton/murder” setup allows readers to decide for themselves whether or not they should take seriously the claims splashed across a meme that is then shared by a Trump lawyer on Twitter accompanied by his own text that reads, “This picture says it all!”
Because that’s what we’re all here to do, right? Provide the requisite information to help readers figure out if this meme’s claims are correct or not? Or is it to inadvertently help mainstream yet another conspiracy theory?