Written by: Maksim Spivak (Diablo Valley College)
Editted by: Aimee Casey (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)
In March 2017, the corporate media devoted extensive coverage to the junk food news story of Kim Kardashian West being robbed in Paris at gunpoint in October 2016 while the independent media provided coverage of Russia’s involvement in the hacking and interfering in the US presidential election. Dr. Carl Jensen defined “Junk Food News” as stories that, while entertaining and engrossing, have zero news value to the public and distract from substantive news stories that do have value to the public. The story of Kim Kardashian getting robbed is non-newsworthy because it is sensational and entertaining, but has no impact on the lives of the American public. The Russia hacking the election story is news worthy because it was confirmed that a foreign power to swayed our presidential election and therefore undermined our voting system and democracy as a whole.
Starting in October 2016, the corporate media devoted considerable time to covering Kim Kardashian West being robbed at gunpoint in Paris. Kardashian was staying with her family and security detail in a luxury apartment while attending Paris Fashion Week. On October 2, Kardashian was in the apartment alone when five intruders dressed as police officers broke into the apartment. The intruders bound and gagged Kim, held a gun to her head, threatened to shoot her. The intruders raided the apartment and took cell phones and an estimated $10 million in jewelry. Kim was badly shaken but physically unhurt from the incident. She went completely silent on social media for over a month – her main communication method with her fans and primary revenue source – before discussing the incident and her experience at length in the March 19, 2017 episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians.
March 2017 was a critical month for the American public with the questions being raised about the legitimacy of the US presidential election and the military strikes against Syria, and instead of providing news that matters the corporate media gave extensive coverage to Kim Kardashian being robbed at gunpoint in Paris in October 2016. The media speculated on everything about the robbery: who was behind it; what was on the phones that got stolen and if the private information on the phones would be sold to news outlets; if the robbery was a publicity stunt to drum up ratings for Keeping Up with the Kardashians show; how the Kardashians, who are infamous for sharing everything on their shows and social media, would change their stance on over sharing; if the robbery and social media blackout would affect Kardashian’s net worth. There were so many questions and details to pick apart, that the media has a revenue producing story for months. On October 2, 2016, CBS documented the robbery in the news story “Kim Kardashian West Robbed in Paris at Gunpoint”. On March 15, 2017, Vanity Fair provided a “special report”, in a lengthy article titled “Kim Kardashian Says She Believes Paris Robbers Were Watching Her Snapchat”. The article discussed why Kim’s flashy social media posts made her such an easy target for thieves and how it was likely that the thieves knew that she was home alone because of her and her sister’s Instagram and Snapchat posts. On March 14, 2017, The Sun published “Kanye believe it? What is Kanye West’s net worth? Rapper’s debt revealed in wake of Kim Kardashian Paris robbery” and documented the speculation on the claim that the robbery was a publicity stunt. On March 27, 2017, The Daily Beast wrote “Did Kim Kardashian’s Father’s Ghost Try to Warn Her About Paris Robbery?” about Kardashian’s mother believing there were warnings from beyond the grave of the impending robbery. On March 20, 2017 The Washington Post, in an article titled “Kim Talks about her Harrowing Paris Robbery” rehashed the details of the robbery and stated Kardashian’s views on why the details of the robbery should be shared on her show. On March 16, 2017, People Magazine, in “Everything We Know about Kim Kardashian West’s Paris Heist” released answers to all the “burning and lingering” questions fans had that were discussed by Kardashian on her show.
In March 2017, while the corporate media devoted considerable time to covering Kardashian’s Paris robbery, independent outlet NPR covered the investigation of Russia’s interference and cyber meddling in the November 2016 presidential election. On March 20, 2017, Camilla Domonoske, writing for NPR, published the article titled “The FBI Is on the Case — And Other Takeaways from the House Intel Hearing”. Domonoske’s article focuses on the FBI officially investigating Russia for the hacking of computers and emails of US political organizations, specifically the Democratic National Committee. The hacker, with the online name of “Gucifer 2.0”, released damaging emails that were posted to websites such as Wikileaks. The US accused Russia of using the hacks to interfere with the US presidential election because Russia has used hacks in the past to influence elections and public opinion in throughout Europe and Asia. The article further discussed the House Intelligence Committee’s divided approach of investigating the hacks – Democrats said that the hacks were in and of themselves a crime and Republicans believed that the hacks were not a crime but the release of information was the crime.
The article “The FBI Is on the Case — And Other Takeaways from the House Intel Hearing” is important because it confirms that the FBI is investigating Russian cyber meddling of the US presidential election and possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump. The investigation had been going on since July 2016, but was not officially confirmed before March 2017. Confirmation of the investigation prior to the November 2016 election could have significantly changed the outcome of the election. “Ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., exemplified this approach in his lengthy opening remarks. He included a timeline of interactions between the campaign and Russia and questioned whether changes to the GOP platform, among other things, were “coincidences” or signs of collusion. If the latter, Schiff said, that would be a “shocking betrayal of democracy.””. On discussing if Russia changed the outcome of the election, FBI Director James Comey said: It was definitely a “success”, in Russia’s eyes, on at least one front — it “introduced chaos and division and discord, and sowed doubt”. This is incredibly troubling because the Russian hacks cast doubt on the legitimacy of democratic elections and were compounded by casting doubts on the loyalty of the US President to the US and not to Russia. In his first couple of months as president, Donald Trump has signed many unpopular executive orders that hurt the American public and benefit the wealthy or seemingly have no benefit to anyone in the American public. One has to wonder if Trump is working for the American public, the wealthy, or for Russia. If it is proven to be the latter, the fallout would result in the loss of credibility for the president, the country, and democracy as a whole.
Junk food news is meant to distract the public from news worthy stories that have real meaning to their lives. The US news cycle pumps out many sugar coated and sensational stories that make censorship unnecessary. The news coverage of Kim Kardashian being robbed in Paris has stayed on the news for over six months and has caused news worthy stories, such as the Russian hacking of the presidential election, to not receive the coverage that is justly due.
Maksim Spivak was born in Kiev, Ukraine and emigrated to the US in 1999. Maksim currently works in the access control/construction industry and has recently returned to school to become an electrical engineer. In his free time Maksim enjoys working on his cars, boating, and spending time with his wife, family, and friends.