Pump-and-Dump Journalism

Twenty years ago, executives at Enron engaged in a very ballsy, very elaborate pump-and-dump scheme. What followed was one of the most spectacular collapses in corporate history. Named “America’s Most Innovative Company” six times in a row by Fortune magazine, Enron subsisted on little more than a steady diet of deception and hyperbole. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for Enron.

For the uninitiated, a pump-and-dump scheme involves boosting the price of a stock through the dissemination of knowingly misleading information. Today, in the age of cryptocurrencies, pump-and-dump schemes are as common as they are dangerous.

Sadly, a similar type of scheming has also made its way into the world of reporting. Welcome to the age of pump-and-dump journalism, where stories, no matter how outrageous or erroneous in nature, are juiced up for an extended period of time, then, once cracks start to appear, dropped in an unceremonious manner.

Although right-leaning political commentators and news websites are often guilty of spreading plenty of falsehoods, a number of prominent, left-leaning outlets simply excel in the art of pumping-and-dumping. Democracy dies in darkness, we’re told. What about objective reporting? It appears to die in broad daylight.

Take “Russiagate,” for example. Or, as Matt Taibbi so accurately labeled it, this generation’s WMD.

In 2019, The Mueller Report found “members of the Trump Campaign” did not conspire or coordinate “with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Glenn Greenwald, who was then at the Intercept, went even further. Mueller, he argued, “did not merely reject the Trump‐Russia conspiracy theories. He obliterated them.”

The findings were bad news for many reporters on the left, especially Rachel Maddow, a journalist who has made a very lucrative career from the promulgation of propaganda – ironically, the very thing she appears to abhor.

For years, Maddow spread false rumors, hour after hour, night after night. Millions of viewers were invited to follow her deep down the Russiagate rabbit hole. The sensational stories, totally divorced from reality, certainly helped boost her show’s ratings. This was classic pump-and-dump reporting. Sell the people lies, profit from these lies, then move on like nothing happened.

More recently, due to the pandemic, many parts of the United States, like many parts of the Western world, were forced into extended periods of lockdown.

However, as numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown, prolonged lockdowns have proven to be highly ineffective. Nevertheless, objective data simply cannot compete with subjective beliefs. When it came to the promotion of prolonging the lockdowns, CNN was, perhaps, the worst offender of them all. The news network quickly became a mouthpiece for people like Andrew Cuomo, who really seemed to get a thrill from telling people to stay inside. As the data clearly demonstrates, the lockdowns proved to be a very costly failed experiment.

Nevertheless, in the age of pump-and-dump reporting, facts simply can’t compete with feelings. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who currently finds himself under fire, repeatedly advised all Americans to stay indoors and to wear masks at all times. If possible, he pleaded, wear two masks. Why? Because an individual has less chance of getting the virus if they wear two masks. Oh, wait, double masking is not backed by science. Again, though, do facts really matter?

And what about the virus, where did it originate? Did it escape from a lab? Don’t be ridiculous. Oh, wait, it looks like it did. For well over a year, people who have questioned the Wuhan wet market narrative have been ridiculed. Some people were forced out of their jobs. Those very same people now appear to have been correct all along. As we now know, the wet market played no role in the origin of the virus. When people like Nicholas Wade and Nicholas Baker, two science reporters with impeccable credentials, talk, commonsense tells you to listen. Both of them believe that the virus appears to have escaped from a lab. The Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis, no longer a thing to ridicule, appears to be grounded in complete reality.

With pump-and-dump journalism, profit is all that matters – increase viewership figures, subscribers, the amounts of retweets and comments, and increase the company’s bottom line. Reporting, which includes journalism, has become cheap entertainment. And, as you know, some of the greatest forms of entertainment are completely divorced from reality. Now, some of the most prominent journalistic pieces are completely divorced from reality.

In many ways, a number of prominent media outlets have applied the Enron philosophy to the world of reporting. From the origins of the virus to the benefits of double masking, pump-and-dump journalism has now become common practice. Start with the desired conclusion, and work your way back.

Is it any wonder that trust in traditional media is at an all-time low?