We’re surrounded by fake news. Every link we click on the Internet is more and more likely to contain a story that’s completely fabricated. Written to generate hits and ultimately revenue to the author or to influence people, policy or votes. Dispelling Internet myths is a full time thing whether it be Snopes (accused of having a liberal bias and being fake itself) or fact-checkers who are derided as well.
The shame of it all is that Fake News isn’t limited to the farthest reaches of the Internet but that it is basically all that is provided to us. Every attempt at factual reporting is seemingly offset by providing equal time to an opposing view with equal sincerity if not truth. There is almost nowhere you can go to find truth that is not countered by something that waters it down.
Possibly the worst thing that happened to fact based reporting is the 24-hour news cycle. Because there is more time available than real news to report. Networks fill the time with what’s available as opposed to what’s true. The second worst thing to happen to truth is the election season is omnipresence of campaign surrogates. These surrogates go much farther than spinning, they tell any manner of outright lie and mostly go unchallenged. If they are questioned about a statement, they repeat themselves and keep moving on. The lie is allowed to stand.
In addition to the usual suspects, Fox News or MSNBC. Fake news has spread to every source available. It helps not that most of the major media in this country is controlled by few sources who therefore dictate what is news and what’s not. It’s how a Steve Bannon fades from the news cycle. How a Standing Rock can be ignored. Why the police side of a police shooting is broadcast while the victim is “thugged up” by reporting of their past. It’s how we get a Trump.
I watched an interview this morning on Morning Joe with Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence. In it he asserted that the Trump transition team has moved “faster in the past 40-years than any other team.” On their own network, clips had run within the past few hours of President Obama announcing his entire National Security Team on December 1st during his first term. I saw recognition among the panelists that they knew it not to be true but they let the lie stand. Pence was asked about the son of Mike Flynn, Trump’s nominee for National Security Advisor who’d made a number of racist tweets and advanced fake news. Pence looked the camera dead in the eye and said, “Flynn’s son is not involved at all in the transition.” To be clear, Flynn’s son is currently his father’s Chief of Staff. He has a official e-mail address from the transition team. In what passes as journalism these days, that statement was questioned, the answer repeated, they moved on.
Photo: Peoples World
When the news media allows their guests to lie. They are advancing fake news. When your programming is composed of advancing conspiracy theories (Sean Hannity) and bringing on your regular contributors… knowing they will lie. You are as fake a news source as a teenager looking for hits on the Internet. When you purport that Ben Carson is somehow qualified to lead Housing and Urban Development because he once lived in Detroit and has treated patients from the inner-city. You’ve lessened us all. When you treat Black Lives Matter like a terrorist organization and equivocate them with the KKK. You are a blight on the nation.
It is incumbent on us all, to not trust and verify but verify then trust. We must work a little harder at researching information before we pass it along because it confirms our existing beliefs. There is no need to backup your beliefs with lies when so much truth is prevalent. It’s also important to hold the media accountable when they lie, and when they allow others to lie with their blessings. The media empowers liars and serves as an apologist for the worst of the deplorable, in service to their narrative. Time for a change!
Feature Photo: theweek.com