Bob Simon was the consummate parachutist, an expert in crisis journalism, who covered wars in Asia, the Middle East, and Central America. When I visited him in his Tel Aviv office in 1992, he had just finished writing a book about his capture by the Iraqis during the 1991 Gulf War. He seemed restless. I said, “It’s only been four months since the last crisis [Moscow, December].” He shrugged, “Hey, we’re talking news.” From my first interviews with foreign correspondents in Paris in 1983, when talking about dangerous places, the common theme was always luck. Being lucky or unlucky.
Bob Simon died yesterday when a livery cab cashed near West 30th Street in Manhattan.
He had marvelously brought us the news for nearly 50 years.
The phenomenon that we’re catching here is that search engines are working as they’re designed to — they’re supposed to surface the most fresh, recent, relevant news articles. But The New York Times or other credible, authoritative, independent sources are going to debunk a conspiracy theory like the Fort Detrick conspiracy once and they’re going to move on. And Beijing’s propaganda apparatus does not need to move on — they can churn out a vast array of content that hammers this theory over and over and over again.
The issue is that Chinese state media, which isn't really beholden to resource constraints or audience feedback, can churn out a large volume of propaganda on a conspiracy it wants to promote. The high volume of material makes it easier for Chinese publishers to take advantage of the way search works to promote fresh content.