Fake News is the STD of Free Press

A few weeks back I put up a post about fake news. It included a list of “news” sites that typically dealt in conspiracy and fake news.

Last night Buzzfeed (an entertainment, but fairly respectable organization) published a 35 page U.S. Intelligence report that outlined several areas in which Trump has direct conflicts with Russia. The article indicated that some of the instances in the report could not be verified.

Again, this report originated from our United States Intelligence, it has two U.S. Senators (McCain and Graham) names attached to it.

It’s that little caveat “unverified” that kept responsible journalists from reporting on this *even* though many of them had held copies of the report in their hands for weeks. Verification is the standard of all trustworthy reporting.

The Intelligence report is bad. It lists many instances of collaboration between Trump and Russia. In its more salacious section it also details an account where Trump paid for prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed where the Obamas had once slept.

Do I believe the report? There are some sections that detail very specific encounters and situations that are difficult to ignore. I also, unlike Trump, trust our Intelligence agencies. Do I think that Trump paid for prostitutes to pee on a bed in front of him?

Probably not. But here’s the thing, if it turned out to be true, based on previous reports and actions, I wouldn’t be that surprised.

Once Buzzfeed hit the Send button respected news agencies like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post started reporting on the fact that Buzzfeed released the report. Although these agencies use “alleged” in their articles, the fact that they reported on it gave the subject some of that very important verification.

What was Trump’s reaction? A very mature and dignified tweet:

FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!

Someone, somewhere is lying big time and at this point, things are so muddied that we don’t know who is doing all the lying.

It leaves us in a very precarious state. Do we go ahead and trust our free press which has been a cornerstone of our democratic freedom or do we instead trust a man/team who has no problems with lying outright again and again.

Because of the constant lies and the cyber bullying (as an aside Melania’s “platform” when she becomes First Lady is going to be cyberbullying – good luck with that) we no longer know what is the truth and what is fabrication. Even when the big news agencies report.

Fake news is the STD of free press. Once there, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to get rid of.

If you want to hobble a nation, hobble the credibility of its free press and its freedom of speech.

The #GoldenShowerGate story is not just a story about FAKE NEWS. It’s a warning of clear and present danger to our press and how we will be getting and perceiving news in the future.

 

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

13 thoughts on “Fake News is the STD of Free Press

  1. I agree with your story in the main, but what Buzzfeed published was not a product of the United States Intelligence community. The material, according to all the reliable news publications you site, is the product of a private information and intelligence concern. That’s an important distinction, and speaks to the confusion we all find ourselves in.

    Regards,

  2. Extremely confusing indeed. And Trump and pro-Trump supporters opened the floodgates with their lies/denials/lies recipe that probably contributed to his having been elected. It’s getting so that the only way to figure is to read lots of different sources, compare the facts, reflect on the coherence or lack thereof of the information, and then use your common sense to arrive at a conclusion… or no conclusion. I agree that these details seem really extreme, so let’s just cross them out. Apart from that, it’s common knowlege that legions of clueless visiting businessmen in Moscow have fallen into similar traps…

  3. Fake news indeed! What the media is responsible before and after your election has stunned me here from down under. From a distance confusion still reigns but Oh how easy it is to distort what is true and make it ‘something’ else entirely. Such is the nature of DECEPTION. This is the danger in our world today DECEPTION (looks goods, sells papers, panders to the ego of celebrities etc. makes money etc etc. Deception rules the minds and hearts of the media world and only in the LIGHT of 100% PURE TRUTH will we ever be able to move forward. All nations indeed need to take a good look at where TRUTH is. Media in all formats should be forced to print ONLY confirmed TRUTH.

  4. You know I agree with the fact that there are some websites that publish exaggerated stories and fabricate truths in order to get clicks on their site … National Inquirer comes to mind and there are sites that do that more often since a lot of people have blogs or sites and say they’re reporting the news. But just because you “report” news doesn’t make you a journalist. It just makes you someone with a website.

    However The NY Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and other institutions of journalism actually report news. It’s their job to highlight the shadows of dishonest people and if these liars take offense to being called out then perhaps they shouldn’t behave unethically to begin with.
    It’s interesting that the press is under scrutiny when a selfish individual responsible for an even more divided nation is called out for his words and actions. Journalist can’t be called biased just because they report on what he’s done and said and he doesn’t like that it’s in print. If he looks unfavorable he did that on his own, with tweets, narsicistic rhetoric, and foul actions. The only writers that may be biased are opinion columnists … But that’s their job … To share their opinions. Interesting read.

    • Yes and the facts both before and after the election would have been nice. I was taught how to read and listen to news and determine if it was fact based or opinion. Unfortunately there is very very little news that is based on fact. I do healthcare research and if consumers in this country knew the truth there they would be marching on Washington.

      • Everyone I know was taught how to read and listen to news and evaluate its merit, especially when considering the source. For example Dan Rather would have a lot more weight than this BuzzFeed that Wendy talks about. If you’re getting very, very little news based on facts perhaps it’s the source of your information. It’s always good to raise questions about the subject matter that’s what journalist do. As for the healthcare system duuuuuuuuuude that situation is so frustrating, it’s ridiculous.

    • Wrong! It is not their job to “share their opinions.” It is their job to report the truth. However, because they are biased and politically motivated they do exactly that….”share their opinions ” instead of reporting the true facts.

      • I’m glad I can stir up such emotion in you. However you failed to read the comment correctly, “share their opinions,” is exactly what an opinion columnist does and I what I say they did, because it is their job. A reporter on the other hand leaves opinion out of it and just states the facts, which are inherently true to begin with, no need to say “true facts”. Journalists like Dan Rather understand this. But interesting to hear your interpretation on the matter.

  5. Great post. It seems the media is leaning more and more towards sensationalism and ratings than actual facts. Do they even have “fact checkers” anymore? Who knew that “news” sources akin to National Inquirer and The Weekly World News would be making the headlines. Just waiting for the report that Trump was abducted by aliens to make the 6:00 news. LOL

  6. Part of the issue is the sheer volume of sources an open platform like the internet allows. There is such a flood of information, and much of the “news” is actually a blend of facts, entertainment and opinion. My hope is that schools will focus on teaching the next generation how to actually read news more critically, because we’ve entered a new era where it’s far too easy for facts and information to be distorted for a variety of reasons.

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