Worst in Media 2022: Teen Vogue feeds propaganda to impressionable young readers
December 27, 2022
As 2022 comes to a close, Accuracy in Media is wrapping up the very worst media blunders from the year. See yesterday’s piece here, and come back tomorrow to see the next on our list.
Teen Vogue has been, as we’ve been noting, deliberately misleading its teen readers over this past year. That someone runs a propaganda magazine, well, there are plenty of those around, think any of the political ones. But something aimed at teens, something supposedly about fashion and memes, that this is misinforming, providing disinformation, isn’t so cute. Especially as the claim of Teen Vogue itself is that it’s “Educating the influencers of tomorrow”.
Unless the education is meant to be misleading so as to influence that future of course. Which is what we think is in fact happening. Teen Vogue is being run, in part, as a political propaganda outlet. Our proof?
We know that Ron DeSantis is the next great hope of the Republican Party, Well, parts of it at least. So, Teen Vogue lies about Florida’s response to covid. Tells us – and more importantly, its teenage readers – that the death rate was worse there than in other places when in fact Florida did better than the average U.S. state.
When discussing teacher incomes, they repeat the worst of the union propaganda on the subject. Using starting salaries, not average, entirely leave out all those things like paid time off, pensions and so on. They even complain about how teachers have student loans, without mentioning that public school teachers get their loans forgiven after 10 years. Educating teens does mean telling them the truth. They do much the same earlier in the year when they simply repeat union claims about teacher wages without any actual thought or consideration at all.
Even on simple basics, they manage to get politics wrong – neither the House nor the Senate are term limited for example. If you get that sort of stuff wrong what else politically are you ignorant of? As we contend, much of the rest of it is not really ignorance, it’s deliberate misinformation.
We did think that this particular misunderstanding was more amusing than nefarious. The University of Florida is a public institution. So, who runs it and how they do is something subject to politics – that’s what politics is, how public institutions are run. But the complaint is that UF is being run by politics.
Teen Vogue scares the pants of its readers by repeating that old lie about 26% of female students being raped or sexually assaulted while at college. If this were true no one would allow daughters or sisters to go to college of course. Nor would any wish to. The original number of 26% includes “nonconsensual sexual contact” which includes being brushed against. Something that shouldn’t happen, of course it shouldn’t, but it is indeed different from rape or sexual assault in the usual meanings of those words.
The direction of the propaganda is perhaps clearest in this piece. An election guide – good, educate the young about our democracy. But the only election campaigns that any might wish to aid or help? All Democrats? Really? Then why have an election?
There has long been a union campaign to have the special exemption from the minimum wage for the differently abled abolished. Teen Vogue supports this without even suggesting that there might be a reason for its existence. This is not educating.
We even find bias on the subject of education itself. Standardized testing is not to decide that some are better than others. We are all good at some things, bad at others. So, test all to find out which. But apparently those tests its readers are about to go through are bad because.
Given that mission to educate, even we were surprised that Teen Vogue wants to ban advertising from pregnancy crisis centers. The desire is because such centers – resolutely anti-abortion as they are – deliver what Teen Vogue considers to be the wrong education. Which does rather kill off that idea that free speech is the way to arrive at the truth.
We took issue with its attempt at a dictionary on the very reasonable grounds that they got the definitions they were pushing wrong. We know they don’t like capitalism for example, but they can’t even define it correctly.
Yes, things do get worse. Teen Vogue insists that gun makers can’t be sued for negligence and then detail a case in which a gun maker was successfully sued for negligence. Contradicting yourself in your own piece is perhaps a useful education in what not to do.
One piece violates the most important lesson that economics classes try to get across. Everything – but just everything – in life is a trade off. Claiming that we don’t have a trade-off between the environment and good jobs is thus horrible misinformation.
Sticking with the climate they get emissions statistics horribly wrong. They claim that the 1% who make 50% of all flying emissions are “them”. The really rich, the billionaires. When in fact, near all of Teen Vogue’s readers will be members of that global 1% that produce that 50%. Telling the readers that it’s “them”, the others, that are the problem, not you, or us, is misleading.
Then there’s the just plain nonsense, Witches’ spells to deal with the patriarchy? And an article that isn’t, in fact, being run as a joke?
Teen Vogue ranks at No. 449 for news and media outlets in the U.S. It gains 5 million visits a month from this position. It claims that it – as we’ve already pointed out – “Educates the influencers of tomorrow”. We do think that’s a noble goal and it’s one that we share.
It’s just that Teen Vogue is so horribly misleading in the education that it provides. Here we’ve only included a portion of the errors that we pointed out in the second half of 2022. Believe us – or read the archives to see – the first half of 2022 wasn’t any better.