Florida news outlets paid off to discredit Brightline?
While we usually talk bikes around here, any form of transit is an important one to us, especially when it can move a large number of people more efficiently.
Also, since both railroads and those who ride bicycles are both inconvenienced by aggressive, distracted, and terrible drivers – albeit, to different degrees – we’re often allies in the same cause.
That’s why we’ve taken an immense interest in a very worrying development from our local media outlets: A good number of them, since 2021, have clearly and repeatedly manipulated their stories about Brightline grade crossing crashes to specifically absolve our nationally-infamous Miami Drivers™ of responsibility.
Let us make this extremely clear right now: There’s only one way a grade crossing crash happens, and that’s when a driver willfully weaves between the crossing gates, onto the tracks. Every grade crossing crash involving a car or truck is the fault of the driver behind the wheel of that vehicle. Period.
But our local media outlets are making every effort possible to make you think otherwise, using the oxygen of publicity to their advantage.
This media bias was identified as more than coincidence back in March of 2022, when the Miami Herald posted a Twitter thread that took direct aim at Brightline for grade crossing crashes. This wasn’t just another article, but a clear attempt to discredit the service – with special effort put into the 14-post thread.
IN TODAY’S MIAMI HERALD: It seemed like a great idea for a region that is starved of reliable mass transit and plagued by traffic.
A high-speed, inter city train.
But almost as soon as Brightline opened its railroad, its trains began colliding with pedestrians and drivers. ? pic.twitter.com/EA1yFTk6Ku
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) January 19, 2022
Granted, most people on Twitter saw through the bias, especially since the Herald chose to lead their thread by embedding a video of a driver who had flagrantly broken the law and driven onto an active grade crossing.
But in the weeks following that thread, more articles began to appear – even in Central Florida media outlets such as Tampa Bay’s News Radio WFLA – which made it clear that the Herald article wasn’t just an outlier. It was just one of many Florida-based news agencies making a distinct effort to create public distrust in Brightline, and their heroic efforts to revitalize and modernize passenger rail in America.
— NewsRadio WFLA ?? (@WFLANews) January 19, 2022
Could it be that all of our journalists are simply suffering from windshield bias? After all, FDOT and South Florida politicians have forcibly made this region so car-centric that it’s hard to avoid said bias, right?
Proof of the media’s willful manipulation of Brightline-based narratives came forth shortly thereafter.
Miami transit advocate Kevin Amézaga keenly noted a pair of Tweets made by CBS 4 Miami, following a grade crossing crash involving Brightline equipment. The first tweet, posted at 8:35pm on the 18th of March, initially placed the onus where it belonged, by indicating that footage from a Brightline train had captured “the moment a driver tries to beat the train at a crossing in Hallandale.”
But within nine minutes, CBS 4 had removed this tweet and replaced it with a version that shifted the onus, simply referring to “a vehicle struck at a crossing in Hallandale” by Brightline.
HOLD ON ONE MINUTE!@CBSMiami deletes tweet that acknowledges truck driver was at fault for crash to instead, in a new tweet blame Brightline.
— Kevin Amézaga (@kevinamezaga) March 19, 2022
These are subtle changes, but they have huge implications in how we, as the people of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, perceive Brightline and rail transit in general.
This isn’t a coincidence. We’re being pumped full of manufactured doubt over high-speed rail by someone who doesn’t want Brightline to succeed fairly. Those in the know have floated the possibility of automobile dealer Norman Braman as a possible actor, but we – as the public seeking transparency – should also be looking at the local airline industry as well.
Granted, it appears as if the great majority of people are intelligent enough not to be taken in yet, but that hasn’t stopped the disinformation train (very punny, indeed). For instance, WPLG Local 10 just tried a new tactic this week: A human interest story.
Was it a human interest story about the railroad engineers who suffer the PTSD of these crashes?
Was it a human interest story about the hundreds of passengers who wind up delayed getting to their destination?
Instead, WPLG interviewed one of the drivers who willfully overtook a queue of cars and was hit, in an attempt to exonerate and humanize them for their actions – actions that caused no amount of trouble to Florida East Coast, Brightline, and hundreds of commuters either bused or detoured because of this one person’s inability to behave in public with their motor vehicle.
Redditors say the right thing about drivers who violate railroad crossings after @WPLGLocal10 creates outrageous human-interest story around someone who survived their own stupidity.
— Bike Share Museum (@bikesharemuseum) April 13, 2022
WPLG even had the audacity to quote the driver as saying “I wasn’t trying to beat the train or anything.” That’s like Putin saying he never attacked the Ukraine.
This isn’t just bad journalism, this is outright irresponsible journalism that’s so obviously bought that it Dave Barry should come out of retirement to write about it – although the dark money influence would ensure his humorous exposé would never get printed – and the propaganda would continue.
So the next time you read an article about a railroad crossing crash – especially if it involves Brightline – read it carefully. Chances are you’re getting a story that’s been paid off by automobile dealers and airlines who realize that people are tired of sitting on their chilled leather seats in gridlock – or waiting to get prodded like cattle onto a 737.
Don’t buy into the bull. There’s a streak of yellow lightning called Brightline, and its setting the stage for an intelligent new wave of mass transportation.
P.S.: My price to remove this article is $10,000. Contact form above. We’re waiting to see how desperate you are. Don’t forget to send Starsky & Hutch in the Striped Tomato.
The money spent trying to get the media to discredit Brightline – instead of the real problem, massive driver entitlement – is so obvious that the money might as well be arriving via Starsky and Hutch ? pic.twitter.com/A6y6gPO5rD
— Bike Share Museum (@bikesharemuseum) March 14, 2022