Written March 1, 2017
I thought I’d tackle a topic we keep hearing more and more about. Fake news. President Trump really brought light to this topic during his 2016 campaign and continues to call it out even a month into his presidency. But what is Fake News anyway? So you hopefully read this I ask you keep an open mind and encourage you to read to the end for a better understanding of the problem with reporting Fake News.
“Fake news(also referred to as hoax news) deliberately published hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news – often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. Unlike news satire, fake news seeks to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain”(Wikipedia). Fake news and fraudulent articles spread through social media and in printed newspapers or magazines is seen by various people as a form of psychological warfare. It’s a threat to our democracy, it weakens confidence in our democratic values, and it inflames splits people in a society. Bottom line, fake news propaganda is a dangerous to democratic nations.
There are numerous examples of fake news. So many that it has become difficult for the everyday Joe or Jane to discern what’s real or true and what’s fake or false. Here is just a sampling of some fake news reports:
1) President Trump threatening to send U.S. troops into Mexico. After the release of the actual transcripts of the conversation, it turned out that President Trump actually offered to send U.S. assets to assist in Mexico’s fight with drug cartels.
2) Trump Renamed “Black History Month” To “African American History Month”. “National African American History Month” has been the title of the month for decades. Trump’s official presidential proclamation uses the words, “African American History Month” – but President Obama did the same. In fact, since President Carter. Almost all Commanders-in-Chief have used the same language in proclamations.
3) The Great MLK Jr. Bust Controversy. On January 20, Time reporter Zeke Miller wrote that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the White Mouse. This caused a flurry of controversy on social media until Miller issued a correction. He apparently didn’t ask anyone in the White House if the bust had been removed. He simply assumed it had been because “he had looked for it and had not seen it”. It was behind a couple of people standing in front of it.
4) Kelly Ann Conway was reported to be sidelined. Truth is that believe it or not, she has a life too. Just because she wasn’t seen as much as normally, doesn’t mean she got in trouble and was sidelined. In fact she was with her family and was looking for a house.
5) I am forever hearing that President Trump is a racist, misogynist, homophobe, etc. I also hear that his rhetoric is reminiscent of Hitler, Mussolini and Lenin. etc. This is an example of his words have been twisted to fit a narrative:
At a White House press briefing April Ryan, reporter for American Urban Radio Networks, asked Sean Spicer, the administration’s top spokesman, about Trump’s visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington.
“What did the president gain from his tour today?” she said. “You talked about…exhibits that he visited…the reason I’m asking is because when he was candidate Trump, he said things like ‘we made this country,’ meaning white America, and not necessarily black.”
Spicer asked why Ryan believed Trump ever said anything like that. She replied, “No, no, no…I heard him say that.” In a series of social media messages later, Ryan defended her claim, “A question: So what does ‘we built this country’ mean in front of a predominantly white crowd?” She was referring to a rally hosted in Ohio. Ryan, noted the crowd being “predominantly white” as evidence that Trump was specifically referring to white people, even though he never mentioned race.
In reality, after reviewing the clip Ryan refers to, Trump actually said, “We cannot let our First Amendment rights be taken away from us, folks. We are law-abiding people. We’re people that work very hard, we’re people that built this country and made this country great. And we’re all together.”
As a child I remember a little story from Aesop’s Fables called The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It starts out, “There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, ‘Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!’ The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
The boy did this another time or 2 and of course the villages went running. Then, when the boy saw a real wolf he cried out again but no one came. Later that night when the boy didn’t come home they went check on him to be sure he was ok. They found him weeping. “There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, “Wolf!” Why didn’t you come?” As one of “Don’t cry ‘wolf’, shepherd boy,” said the villagers, “when there’s no wolf!”
I’ve seen, heard and read both sides of President Trump’s candidacy and presidency. As I’ve followed along I’ve found 95% of mainstream media and pundits has twisted nearly everything President Trump has done and said. Remembering what I said about the definition of Fake News, “…deliberately published hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news”. This combined with people already despising him has led to more and more people to hate and protest him. I’ve written before that President Trump wasn’t my first or even 2nd choice, however since he was democratically elected he has been proving himself more and more each day.
The public depends on the media to keep them informed about what goes on in the world. Currently they have a worse favorability than Congress. Here’s my question to anyone who reports, writes and even shares on social media. What’s going to happen if something truly goes on that needs to be reported? Will JQ Citizen believe you? There’s one more piece of the puzzle to achieve peace in our country. Along with not attacking and shouting people down, we need honesty. Honest news reporting, honest Journaling, and honest social media posting. If, or when, we do things like this, only then can our country begin to heal.
Thought for the day: Nobody believes a liar…even when he is telling the truth!”