The mainstream media continues to freak out over the spread of “fake news” on Facebook and other social media platforms such as Twitter and reddit. Hillary Clinton’s late campaign thinks this is a problem.
But the media hasn’t bothered to ask why such sites gained traction. Our media has cultivated false news for years. Understandably, people stopped caring about the “journalistic ethics” the media claim to possess.
The CBS morning show, hosted by Charlie Rose, recently ran a segment on the rise of fake news, based on a story posted on BuzzFeed. The website claimed that Facebook users shared more “fake” news stories than “real” news stories by the end of the election.
Was the story true? Timothy Carney from the Washington Examiner found holes in Buzzfeed’s model which thus complicated the narrative BuzzFeed was trying to present. On examination, Buzzfeed had ignored real statistics to present their own version of a narrative, not the facts.
On the same CBS show, Charlie Rose interviewed former “fake news” pundit and left-wing icon Jon Stewart about the election. During his Daily Show years, Stewart styled himself as both a serious pundit and a comedian, allowing him to walk the line between fake news and satire.
The show’s set, and Stewart’s demeanor, mirrored that of a network news program. His cast did on-location interviews, which were often heavily edited to present their own liberal point of view. But long after Stewart’s show ended, he is still being propped up as an important voice in journalism.
Shortly before Stewart filmed his final Daily Show segment in August 2015, the Washington Post published a piece lamenting that “many millennials are about to lose their most-trusted news source.”
CNN’s Brian Stelter has made exposing fake news sites a bit of a pet project. He should start with his own network, along with its mainstream competitors. Stelter himself recently discussed the election with disgraced former CBS New anchor Dan Rather, who was forced to resign after presenting forged documents about George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard as legitimate news.
CNN has run segments suggesting that asteroids cause climate change, and black holes can materialize in Earth’s atmosphere and swallow 747 passenger planes . A CNN panel led by left wing commentator Sally Kohn declared their “hearts are out there marching” with protestors in Ferguson as they all raised their hands to mimic the Black Lives Matter protest mantra — “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” — echoing an alleged gesture during a police shooting that was declared one of the year’s biggest lies (ironically) by the Washington Post.
NBC Nightly News, hosted by Lester Holt, featured a report about “fake news” this past Tuesday, apparently with zero self awareness about how Holt came to host the show. He replaced the disgraced Brian Williams after it was revealed that Williams had fabricated a number of self-aggrandizing anecdotes about his broadcasting career.
How were Williams’ fabrications discovered? Not by NBC’s asleep-at-the-wheel standards executives, and not by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN or even Fox News. They came to light after a soldier on Facebook called Williams out for exaggerating a story about covering the Iraq War. Williams continues to make millions of dollars working for NBC as a late night MSNBC host.
NBC was also caught airing edited audio of a 911 phone call in a way that made Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman come across as a racist, when the full context was far more mundane.
Meanwhile, NBC Universal has invested $2 hundred million in BuzzFeed and Vox. There isn’t enough space to list all of the times Vox failed at delivering “real news.” I will simply let Deadspin explain: “46 Times Vox Totally Fucked Up A Story.”
Rolling Stone continues to put out a magazine despite a verdict of malicious defamation of a UVa administrator related to its publication of, “A Rape on Campus,” a story about a brutal rape that, as it turns out, never happened.
Another such case is Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University rape activist who carried a mattress on her back to protest University administrators for not expelling her alleged rapist. Except the rape never happened. Still, the New York Times ran a piece exulting Sulkowicz titled “The Art of the Political Protest.”
When New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand invited Sulkowicz to be her guest at the State of the Union address, there were no questions about the validity or truth of her claims. The New York Times has repeatedly pushed the fake campus rape statistic that every one in four women are sexually assaulted on campus. This story was repeatedly cited by both Gillibrand and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Beginning to see the problem yet?
When false narratives and comedians are championed, the public at large stops relying on publications and networks who attempt to pass themselves off as “real news” but who in fact either ignore or simply don’t care about information they put out because of an ideological bias.