Quote of the Day: “Viral” Is Not the Same Thing as “True”

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From an unnamed colleague of Dave Weigel:

“Too good to check” used to be a warning to newspaper editors not to jump on bullshit stories. Now it’s a business model.

If you didn’t follow the great Elan Gale Twitter hoax over the weekend, click the link for more. Weigel’s point is that just because something “goes viral” on social media is no excuse for publishing a story about it without bothering to perform even basic fact checking. Sure, that would mean fewer dumb pieces of clickbait and thus fewer clicks, but if getting lots of hits is now an all-purpose excuse to shrug your shoulders when something turns out not to be true, maybe the sites that buy into this business model should start calling themselves something other than news outlets.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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