Wednesday, January 10, 2018

True "Fake News"

Do you remember when the term "fake news" came about? The idea came from the left and it was meant as a way to dismiss places like Brietbart from public consideration. Basically, this was an attempted power grab in which they hoped to grant themselves the power to regulate the news media. Then they could dismiss every conservative leaning site as "fake news" and then the machinery of oppression would kick in. The rest of the media could ignore them. Social media could block them. And good liberals would know that nothing those fakers said was accurate... or loyal. It was the creation of an enemies list.

The funny thing was that it struck me right away that this was a mistake because anyone could use this weapon against anyone. That meant the left's weapon could be turned on them. Sure enough, that happened. Within days, anyone accused of anything was calling the charge "fake news" and attacking the MSM sites that reported the charge. The sports world used it. Hollywood used it. Conservative commentators used it. And Trump used it. In fact, he lobbed it at every media site every chance he got. CNN proved particularly vulnerable. The left was horrified... this wasn't supposed to happen.

Well, since then, the left has tried repeatedly to shrink the term back to their original intent with various stories asking what fake news really means, and then attack conservatives in their analysis. None of these have been successful, however.

So anyways, this got me thinking. Is there real fake news? Obviously, there is some. The propaganda put out by Russian hackers or Huffpo or Brietbart is fake news. It is an attempt to create a scandal using opinion (genuine or otherwise) as fact and connecting dots using conspiratorial type mis-logic and wrongful suggestion. But is there something deeper that we are all missing? The more I thought about it, the more I realized there was: most of the news we see today is "fake news."

When you take a tour of most news sites, you are assaulted with a variety of articles that truly deserve the title of "fake news." Let me give you an example. Most news sites are now awash in "Twitter responded" or "the internet responded" articles. Trump said this and Twitter reacted. Ivanka was photographed here and now faces an internet backlash. Etc. These things are not genuine news in any way. What they are is the reporter having gone out to find random people to back up the opinion the reporter wants you to believe. These could be the only three tweets in the world to make this point. And even if they aren't, they are nothing but hot air... opinion is not news until someone chooses to turn their opinion into action which affects the world in some manner. "Bill thought about robbing a bank is not news."

Yet, this is becoming the preferred form of "news" because it's easy. It requires no sources, not research, no vetting, and no knowledge to create an article. It offers nothing concrete in any way. It changes nothing. But it sure sounds good, doesn't it? It sounds as if the reporter has somehow tapped deeply into a majority strain of public opinion and public interest. You now know what the public is thinking and what matters to them, right? Wrong. You know what this report wants you to think... that's all. This is as flimsy as if I wrote, "My neighbor backs me up on this!" Who cares?

"Comedian/Politician/Media Member/Internet freak makes fun of Trump for saying ___" is the exact same thing. So what? The guy at K-Mart said the opposite. Now what? In fact, this is even worse because this is just reporting the insults being flung by the opposition. They aren't even out of character. "Extra! Extra! Dog barks at cat!" Fake news.

I think the key lesson here is that we are already awash in a sea of fake news as untrained hacks half-ass their way through articles by taking quotes from Twitter or identifying the opinions of blogs and presenting them as facts of some sort that result in news, when all they really are is the opinion of the writer spoken through cherry picked quotes.



Anthony said...

The acolytes of scandal plagued politicians (historically Democrats) have been shooting messengers of unwelcome news for decades.

Also cherry picking news is the inevitable result of the abundance of news sources. People can't read everything so they read what tells them what they want to hear about what they think is important.

Since welcome 'news' is cheaper and as likely to draw eyeballs as facts why waste time with facts?

BevfromNYC said...

Interesting topic! I agree with Anthony, social media has extended the reach of "clickbait" to 24/7/365 non-stop status that generates big ad bucks for media. It is cheaper for our traditional journalistic media to put something out there for the clicks first than to wait for the investigation/corroboration/verification process to get it right. And we accept the ambivalent "retractions" when they get it wrong much too often and without consequence. Well, except that they have created their own "fake news" problem of not being believed. And that is dangerous. Crying wolf parables come to mind.

Yeah, you see, when the NYT made their big mea culpa a year ago at how they were really going to report the news warts'n'all instead of just heaping glowing praise on the President (of their political persuasion), it was pretty clear.

Also the click bait that is breathlessly tweeted by the "media" that gets 10K "likes" and "forwards", but then is found to be "fake" that gets 100 likes et al.

Liberal "journalists" are all over this new Wolff book about Trump even though most of it is pure fiction. Maggie Haberman WH correspondent for the NYT even sealed the deal because basically if it sounds like it is true, then it probably is. This is what passes for "journalists" today.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, On the click-baits, most news today is just click-baits. The headlines are misleading and the stories themselves are little more than the headline repeated as a paragraph. I can't tell you how many times I've followed a headline to see if there's a story worth discussing only to discover zero content related to the headline.

Turning the "10k likes" stories into news is another good way to present fake information as fact because too many people mistakenly think that the more people who believe something the more likely it is to be true.

They are loving the Wolff book even though it's obvious garbage because they want to believe it.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I'm talking about the reporter cherry picking support, which is dishonest.

Anthony said...


Quite a few members of the liberal media have noted that Wolff is a longtime fabulist whose book contains clear falsehoods.

However they also note despite Trump's claims Wolff had special access to the White House over a long period of time. Heck, that is why Bannon has been cast out.

Wolff's style is butter up his targets with a few gushing articles, then use the resultant access to write a slashing, salacious book. How he can keep doing that stumps me.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I think we've entered a very strange world where people can sell obvious lies as truth, where supposedly reputable people believe what they want to believe even in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence, where news magazines (Breitbart/Huffpo) make a living off of selling false stories to their customers, and where no one asks legitimate questions anymore.

AndrewPrice said...

Look at the latest too harassment issues.

1. Oprah was destroyed by Seal tonight when he pointed out that she knew about Weinstein all along and did nothing as he raped woman after woman. He similarly damned the rest of the Hollywood women who are now pretending to be heroes. Somehow, not a single person in authority has pointed this out before despite it being super obvious.

2. James Franco, who has been in trouble for pedo stuff before, has been accused of being at least a harasser if not more (and luring underage girls to his hotel room). He actually took the bizarre position: "Well, I'm not going to fight the charges... which 'aren't accurate'... because I believe in the movement that much." I have never heard anything more f'd up than that.

3. Hey, wear clothes if you think the sluts... er, actresses who slept their way to sexy roles in Hollywood are treated unfairly.

4. We are Democrats. We love women. You Republicans hate women. Ignore all the rapists in our midsts.

And so on. Our politics has taken on a surreal quality.

Anthony said...


1) I am not an Oprah fan but Seal didn't say anything of note. I keep seeing they knew thrown around but only rarely do I see evidence they knew. Nobody seems to have provided that sort of evidence against Oprah and none of Weinstein's victims are making that claim. Of course, she covered up for Clinton...

Still Oprah is a wealthy conspiracy theorist whose name is her brand. She or some other talker with no record of responsibility is likely to be the Dem's next nominee.

2). What a crazy creep. Hopefully he will wind up in jail.

3) The protest clothing thing is ridiculous.

4) Since when has a party said anything nice about its rival? Rape is bipartisan.

I agree politics is surreal nowadays. I laughed for days about the '17 hours of gorilla tv a day's joke being taken seriously by some people.

tryanmax said...

I think we've entered a very strange world where people can sell obvious lies as truth, where supposedly reputable people believe what they want to believe even in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence...

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Or, in the immortal words of Howard Ashman, "Tale as old as time..."

tryanmax said...

"Fake News" was a huge mistake on the mainstream press's part. They had skated by without a standard precisely because they were the standard. By asserting #FakeNews, they established a standard apart from themselves and immediately fell vulnerable to it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Good point about the standard. I think it's hilarious to watch how flummoxed they are by this.

Nice quote!

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