Friday, December 23, 2016

Fake News

I posted this last week. I've since updated it with a comparative news item from a fake news YouTuber, with a liberal bent. Also, you might like this article that explains just what fake news is. My comments are at the bottom.  Fake news is different from President Johnson fabricating a military incident like The Gulf of Tomkin as he did in 1964. Reporters were not there to verify the facts. Today's fake news is reporters making up facts. 


This is what fake news looks like. I saw this on facebook yesterday and decided to google it. Note the time stamps. Within minutes all of the fake news sites had picked this up. Many of them just cut and pasted the original story. Note the language "harass", "accosting", "trumprage". Read any one of them and you will have trouble finding supporting evidence for those words. 

The list of websites that picked this up early went on for 6 pages. They all have names like "RedState", "WND", "inquistor" and "hollywoodlife". That's your first clue. And watch out for names like The Washington Times. Many are in that "credible yet biased" gray area. Just the fact that they reported it so quickly, without time for gathering any information, should tell you something. That's a major part of their strategy, to blast the internet with their version of the truth and don't worry about facts. It makes it difficult for you to find any professional journalism on the topic. 

2 days earlier, there was a similar incident, where someone videoed themselves getting kicked off a plane because they were speaking Arabic. Sounds like something that a liberal would want to hear as proof that there is a conservative conspiracy against Muslims, being enforced by a corporation. I saw it, but didn't click on it or look it up like I did the Ivanka story, but here's what I came up later.

Note several differences. The name of the person creating the news is mentioned in many of the headlines, unlike the tweeters in the Ivanka story. And it tells you he is "known for pranks". It says he "claims". This is more like Jon Stewart from the Daily Show, starting his show by saying "welcome to the fake news". He told his audience often to listen to other news sources. A fake news site would never say those things.  

You will also notice a mix of mainstream media and fake news sites. What's interesting though is, the story looks about the same in both. For a conservative news site that wants to sensationalize everything, the true story of an Arabic speaking man making up a story to get attention, is the narrative they want to sell. Their audience is conservatives. That's who gives them the clicks. 

So this story about Saleh is actual news. The mainstream media tells you who did it, and tells you what he normally does, so it's pretty easy to figure out his motives. Fake news sites tell you the same thing, and maybe add a little something about how stupid the prank was, or how this proves something about all liberals and how "they" create fake news. But it's not fake news, it's news about a guy faking something. 

The difference between these two is one started with a tweet that was not intended to be picked up, but was then broadcast by TMZ. The other 6 pages of conservative fake news providers watch for things like that and repeat it. It gives the appearance of it being important because it is being reported, and it drowns out actual fact checking news organizations. 


But the worst part of fake news is it legitimizing the kind of lying that has always come from politicians. Fact checking helped for a few years, but now the fact checkers are being called fake. It's true that fact checking often favors Democrats, but only in the sense that they are said to be lying less often. That doesn't account for the fact of whether or not they are actually lying less often. When a fact like; Snopes debunks more conservative news stories than liberal stories becomes evidence that they are bias, we have moved very deep into the post truth world. The data that says fake news is more often geared toward conservatives is now considered illegitimate. The space for a reasonable conversation is now lost. 

No comments:

Post a Comment