Is Fake News Real? A Rant Pertaining to the Obvious.
The 2016 election cycle aftermath included an idea that “fake news” had been circulating on social media and had swung the election.
“Fake news”, news meant to influence rather than provide pure information, it is real and as old as the printing press. However, only some of what is getting labeled as “fake news” is actually “fake”. A lot of what gets labeled “fake news” is simply “opinion, hypothesis, and carefully selected truths”, and dangerously, some is real information that simply doesn’t fit the narrative of the accuser… and this is where things get complex.
If right-wing news says half-truth X, left-wing says half-truth Y, then accuser A says Y is fake, and accuser B says X is fake, then citizens A-Z are likely to turn to alternative media. When alternative media then itself presents half-truth Z, we have what is known in this business as “a cluster fuss”. The 2016 election cycle was a cluster fuss, but so were the elections of the 1850’s in America and the 1920’s in Germany.
Below we discuss the difference between real information and counterfeit information, how you can tell the difference, and the role mainstream media and alternative media has played in this new era of accusations of “the lying press”.
TIP: Early fake news includes the myth of Spanish Inquisition. There Protestants were trying to slander Catholics. Same story, different century. We are in serious trouble as a nation when we don’t understand: INFORMATION AND ITS COUNTERFEITS: PROPAGANDA, MISINFORMATION AND DISINFORMATION.
How to Tell the Difference Between Real Information, Counterfeit Information, Opinion, Theory, Hypothesis, and Talking Points
Here we have to differentiate between slanted views and talking points, which are just as likely to appear on Fox News as NBC as they are on alternative (alt-media like InfoWars or the Young Turks), and literal fake news (like the bogus websites that make a false or mostly false claim for click bait… which also appears on alt-media).
In some ways, “fake news” from alt-media is no different than what “real news” presents as “news” on a daily basis. It is truth cut with talking points, it contains omissions and speculation. It is trying to weave a narrative around talking points first, and inform second. The alt-media is mostly a pushback against this, and in this respect there is a somewhat karmic element.
On the other hand, “the lying press” is an issues that stretches back centuries. The NAZIs adopted the term to describe the media in their day as a deflection tool (part of their propaganda program), and thus from this frame we need to take two steps back and really give a closer look to alt-media “fake news” and its propagandist elements and the major media and its propagandist elements.
From this 3,000 foot view, we can see that, even when Fox News or NBC drops the ball, and even more so when typically more detailed sources like the Wall Street Journal drop the ball, it is not the same as when alt-media flagrantly lies. For one, journalists, even in this modern ad-and-click-driven era, have a code of ethics and standards, they are a vital organ of the nation. Meanwhile, alt-media is “folks” in their pajamas taking journalism into their own hands, often without any training.
This doesn’t make one media type better than the other, but it does show us a difference. It shows us that we have to consider each type of source differently, and we have to be aware that what we perceive as real can itself be fake.
The trick to consuming all forms of information is understanding the difference between real information and true news and counterfeit information and fake news.
- “True news” is grounded in cold-hard-fact and meant to provide real information. It gives both sides of a story. It has citations. It can hold up to scrutiny and time.
- Meanwhile, propaganda is designed to convey emotion, not information. Propaganda and fake news don’t seek information as their ends, they seek influence and to indoctrinate you with a narrative. TIP: See types of truths.
The media (alternative, mainstream, junk, nearly all of it with a few articles, segments, and outliers aside) can often seem to do more spreading of propaganda than fact when things get emotional. It isn’t that they don’t have any fact, it is that, in the heat of battle, the point of the message becomes less about spreading truth and more about spreading talking points.
Sometimes the alt-media flies in the face of this and puts out more facts than the mainstream media, sometimes it flies the opposite direction and uses the media’s low-points to counter with seriously damaging propaganda.
If our military ran like this we would be toast, imagine a field guide that blabbered on about emotional nonsense! If a company ran like this it would fail, imagine a company who only tried to fool their audience rather than provide substance (cough, ENRON). Yet, while we would never build a bridge with rhetoric and feelings, or a highway with emotions, we happily disgrace the name of good journalism in favor of our deeply ingrained two-party political bias.
This bubble and frame politics is bad, but the corresponding opinion “journalism” is just wicked. Where a doctor has HIPPA, a modern journalist seems to have little more than a talking point designed to sway 50% and enrage 50% on the nose.
When we know Fox News is right-wing news, NBC is left-wing news, RT is Russian-state news, Democracy Now leans left, NPR leans left, PBS leans left, Cato leans libertarian, Wall Street Journal toward markets, Bloomberg, Washington Post, New York Times, etc… why in “the name of reason” would we expect our citizens not to seek out “alternative news” like Alex Jones or Young Turks.
Thus the left goes to Wikileaks, the right goes to Breitbart, the right goes to Blaze, the left goes to Anonymous… and given that none of these well-intentioned alts has a degree in journalism we all suffer!
Now we are in real trouble, I saw it coming in 2001, we all did, daily show did, but we did nothing.
Now we have Mainstream media half-truths, mashed-up with alternative media half-truths, mashed-up with reddit-based conjecture.
Now the alt-right and alt-left weigh in and meme and share (and why yes, Facebook does reinforce this loop, they didn’t start it, but they are a mirror). Now there is real money in this, now it isn’t just main stream media who gets the ad dollars, now it is any Tom-Dick-or-Harry.
Now the true-fake-junk-news trolls come out of the woodwork and I wake up to my stepmom sharing some racist garbage headline with no story attached to it while I work to write up real stories, with real information, and real fact (upon next to which I place my opinion).
Yes, this whole nightmare scenario spawned forth by cold-war politics, TV Presidents, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, and our gazillion dollar media industry IS a problem. And sure, if you want to use the term “fake news” to discuss it, let us do so.
However, what we should not do is use #PizzaGate as an excuse to not care about the Podesta emails that mention Pizza. I mean, someone might just think, “wait, are they using the D.C. incident to deflect the public from looking at the emails?” I mean, how much do you need this explained? The creator of fake news is not basement-douche creating fake news, it is the American Media’s favoring of party politics over actual real journalism which created a vacuum to be filled by propaganda.
People want REAL NEWS… that is why they are going to alternative sources. We taught them to hate, we taught them not to trust, and we taught them little else, now we have given them the internet. Congratulations 2016, may 2017 bring us better.
Now, to be clear, I do not think #PizzaGate or #FakeNewsGate is a mass conspiracy. No, I think we all (from the top of politics, to intelligence, to the average Joe, to Alex Jones) have just got very sidetracked.
The problem is, when we all cry wolf, and cry wolf, and cry wolf, we have a hard time rallying our 320 million when an actual wolf is coming. And, when every media story is sensational, we forget that information isn’t always exciting. For example, going through the Podesta emails one can’t help but realize (WTF?! Hillary had like less than zero to do with any of this… no one read the emails did they! and worse. No media outlet really reported on them! Yet, here is what a site that says it is anonymous says, what Alex Jones says, etc. Get it? While NBC screams “fake news”, their target audience is out watching alternative media… this is only going to compound over time if it isn’t combated with real fact, real information, and real journalism. The world makes fun of us, including BBC and CNN Britain post-Brexit… and even RT Britain).
We just elected a Twitter President who is at his best being the center of controversy. He does not believe in climate change. He is an alternative news guy… and the Media created him with their decades of “half-fake news”.
Let us look in the mirror, then start covering real news as real journalists (we meaning you, I blog for a living). We don’t have to go crazy, but we could say “if this could not be shown on at least British television, then we probably should label it opinion”.
Donald Trump IS Getting Daily Intelligence Briefings: FAKE NEWS Is WRONG AGAIN. I research stuff for a living, so I can pick apart what is well intentioned Alex Jones, what is honest Alex Jones, what is conspiracy minded Alex Jones and then compare that to my well researched information. In this I learn a bit and understand his character better. But if you just listen to him like it is fact you are getting some half-truths…. but I can accuse the major media outlets of this same thing, and this is the problem.
TIP: Notice how Alex Jones is highly emotional, attempting to be frank with his audience, but presenting half-truths and a slanted viewpoint. Remind you of, oh I don’t know, everything on TV for the last decade including our future President Trump. In our next article we explain rocket science to rocket scientists.
Journalism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). Let us look to as good as source as any, John Oliver for some last words.