By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 3/30/17 (Thu)
So just what is “fake” news? What are alternative facts and what does it mean when someone is “manufacturing” the news?
These phrases began with the 2016 election campaign and it doesn’t appear that they are going anywhere anytime soon.
Fake news is a very broad category and boiled down, it is false information that is twisted and spun to satisfy someone’s agenda.
The best example of fake news would have to be the National Enquirer. Those people go to great lengths to take the tiniest bit of truth and turn it into something fantastic.
Recently, fake news started popping up on the Internet and it seems like every day we see more of it.
People who post these articles, don’t seem to be concerned if they are legitimate news sources or not. In most cases, something will get posted on Facebook that is nothing more than a blogger trying to get hits by generating key words to artificially create readership.
Gullible, naive people get sucked into this trap and actually believe some of these bogus reports.
Since the election, RT, a Russian TV network that is owned by the Russian government, has been very careful about its news content.
As we all know, the Russian government is under investigation for meddling in the U.S. election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign. Yet Trump continues to refuse to answer questions regarding his possible ties with Russia or Vladimir Putin.
You don’t see a word about that on the RT website. So in that case, it’s more of an omission, or perhaps an admission of guilt.
Alternative facts are lies with a positive spin. Trump’s aide Kelly Anne Conway came up with that phrase on the Sunday morning news program Meet the Press.
She said it as she was dancing around a question Chuck Todd had asked her. Almost immediately, Facebook posts were going up blaming the “liberal media” for doctoring the video of Conway saying “alternative facts.”
Unfortunately for those accusers, I saw it on live television so there is no way possible it could have been altered.
Trump’s communication director Sean Spicer presented “alternative facts” in a media briefing when he talked about the crowd at the inauguration; his numbers were verified to be incorrect... alternative facts.
Yet every day on Facebook we see information, sometimes posted by someone we may have known for 20 or 30 years and you just have to shake your head in disbelief.
Most of the time, this information is from a source we’ve never heard of and won’t in the future and this is where those bloggers are getting their readership.
Almost all of the time, the person who posted a bogus report like Obama being born in Kenya, or Obama wiretapping Trump, comments on it then replies to their own comments. To me, that’s like an anonymous letter. It means nothing.
For those of us who work in journalism, this is a very slippery slope and it needs to be addressed sooner than later because if not, it just might become the norm and eventually naive Americans won’t know the difference between truth and made up news to satisfy a political agenda.
The bottom line is people need to stop reading and believing sources that don’t actually exist. They need to figure out what sources to trust.
When I see my Facebook “friends” praising Trump for saving the Ford Motor Co., to knowing more than the generals about ISIS, and I reply, the response is something like I’ve lost my touch as a journalist or Obama is controlling my mind.
People get sucked into this garbage way too easily. The Toronto Star newspaper printed an article suggesting Trump has lied at least 118 times in public and his attorney general Jeff Sessions lied under oath, Each time this happens, their credibility continues eroding.
If you are so hard wired that you actually believe one medium is destroying the other political party, then go to a totally neutral source and get your information.
Foreign news agencies have no stake in American politics. They don’t care. They are simply reporting on what is happening in the United States. Their news is very objective and with the Internet, these sources are very easily accessible and you can read it for yourself.
So is it fake when news organization from Germany to Australia are reporting the same events? They certainly don’t to lose their credibility.