Tuesday, March 7

Fake News or Alternative Facts?

America has some new words in her lexicon! Thanks to President Trump’s campaign and new administration, “Bigly” and “Yuuuge” are heard with happy regularity. More sinister are two others: “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts”. Let’s take a closer look.

Of the two, Fake News is the easier to define. A product of print, broadcast and digital media, it has a long, sordid history, known by other names: propaganda, hoax, satire. For news consumers, the media’s intentional deployment of Fake News obfuscates truth and fact for the sake of a political agenda, ratings/circulation and, ultimately, profit. History has shown when taken to extremes, Fake News has started wars, toppled governments, created financial turmoil, ultimately leading to the death of innocents.

Knowing what to look for, Fake News can be easy to spot. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions provides some guidance:

1. Consider the source (to understand its mission and purpose)

2. Read beyond the headline (to understand the whole story)

3. Check the authors (to see if they are real and credible)

4. Assess the supporting sources (to ensure they support the claims)

5. Check the date of publication (to see if the story is relevant and up to date)

6. Ask if it is a joke (to determine if it is meant to be satire)

7. Review your own biases (to see if they are affecting your judgement)

8. Ask experts (to get confirmation from independent people with knowledge)

Unfortunately, too many fellow citizens are too lazy to pursue facts and truth, succumbing to hyperbole, TV comics’ monologs and prejudiced opinion pieces that reinforce their political preferences. With reasonable diligence, Fake News is easily revealed to be a lie.

In the best Orwellian fashion, purveyors and defenders of Fake News would have us believe Alternative Facts is the real Fake News. Counselor to the Presdent, Kellyanne Conway used the term in a testy exchange on NBC’s “Meet The Press”. Since then, established media types have flooded the zone with their preferred definition: alternative facts = lying.

In context, the term Alternative Facts is truth that contradicts the popular narrative, what the established media would have us believe. This explains the eruption of the media to Conway’s retort. In the case of the Meet the Press interview, crowd size on innaugeration day was the issue. Manipulation 
by the media of pictures taken earlier in the day were used to support attacks on President Trump and White House officials contention the crowds were larger than being shown; the media insisting the White House was lying. Subsequent “alternative facts” proved otherwise. Todd’s outraged outburst declaring “…alternative facts are fabrications” foreclosed further discussion. The rest of the established media immediately ran with Todd’s righteous indignation.

One can argue Conway could have been more eloquent in her response, but the alternative facts concerning crowd size made Todd the ‘fabricator’, along with his colleagues who parroted his comment.

Today’s media stars are the Swaggarts and Bakers of a profession once admirably known as Journalism. Preaching their liberal agenda as gospel to a choir of the prejudiced and ignorant, they use the fiction of fake news to keep them cowering in fear, with loathing for their fellow man.

The maxim “Truth is the best defense” is so often repeated it is taken as fact in all cases. Thanks to corporate media’s carpet bombing the public with fake news, Truth now has questionable standing the court of public opinion.

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