Tweets and headlines matter. It’s a journalistic fact that majority of people either only read part of an article, and that’s if they even make it past the headline.
Evidently, Newsweek didn’t take that into consideration with this tweet.
The full title of the piece is, “New Cancer Drug Could Cure John McCain’s Glioblastoma Using A Virus.”
The whole point of the article is to discuss a new study on a drug that could help fight Glioblastoma. This is a rare form of cancer that Sen. Ted Kennedy, Beau Biden, and Sen. John McCain share in common. The piece explores what the cancer is, what it does, and what the study is looking at.
Clark Chen, a neurosurgeon from the University of Minnesota, was interviewed by the Newsweek reporter, and poised the idea that former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice not to run for office (because of his son’s death) could have contributed to the Trump presidency.
Let’s unpack all of this, shall we?
Is the title misleading? Technically not — there is a claim made that Biden’s choice not to run lead to Trump. Is the picture misleading? Again, technically not — McCain does have this particular kind of cancer.
The problem is you cannot put those two together without sending an entirely different message.
The combination comes across on first glance as a piece focusing on how McCain’s cancer gave way to Trump winning the White House — which makes no sense.
On a first read through, I assumed Newsweek was actually referring to McCain as “the cancer.”
Someone would have to read the entire piece to figure out what the article is actually trying to discuss. The tie to Trump is only referenced once in the entire piece, in the second paragraph, as part of a lead-in. McCain is mentioned only twice, both times very briefly, and never in relation to Trump.
Maybe someone can try to justify this as a great case of clickbait. Hey, I did fall for it: I opened the page, read the entire piece (multiple times), and now am engaging in it. It’s not the first time Newsweek has slipped up, as the Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams points out.
But when 59 percent of URLs on social media posts are never even clicked (according to a study Forbes reported on), it shouldn’t just be about pageviews. This is just lazy social media strategy. This is dangerously misinforming. And this is unnecessarily politicizing a tragedy.
Gabriella Muñoz is a commentary desk intern with the Washington Examiner and a student at Georgetown University.