The "Fake News" Story Is Fake News

Authored by Philip Weiss via MondoWeiss.net,

Almost every day on public radio or public television, I hear reports about how fake news is undermining our democracy.

These high-minded reporters and anchors seem truly to believe that a feverish menace is overwhelming the minds of once-sensible people.

This story is itself fake news for several obvious reasons.

We’ve never had more good information than we have now; people are as well-informed as they want to be. There will always be outlets purveying lies; that is the nature of communication. And the insistence on the “fake news” issue is an effort to assign Trump’s victory not to those who brought it to us (the electorate, and the incompetence of the Clinton campaign) but on some nefarious agents.

The fact that we have more and better information today than ever almost goes without saying. When I started in the news business more than 40 years ago, few reporters carried tape recorders, largely because they worked for a guild and were never subject to correction. Today there are countless outlets, thanks to the internet, and important events are almost always recorded. The amount of data we have on public figures is vast compared to even ten years ago.

We can all argue about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; but we are today awash in information. That information is more reliable than it has ever been before. My own work on Palestine and the Israel lobby has shown me that global consumers can get more accurate information about that conflict than they’ve ever had. Yes, as we assert here all the time, the mainstream US media is in the tank for Israel; but it’s not as if better information is not available at your fingertips, much of it from Europe and Palestine, often citizen video.

Before the internet, alternative sources were much harder to obtain. You had to subscribe to journals, or go to Hotaling’s newsstand in Times Square for out-of-town papers. The best example is  sports. I had to hope the newsstand had the late edition of the Times, or that the Times carried the box score for my hometown team. Today I can find out any score and see videos of my team’s performance in an instant. And the destruction of the guilds by the internet has brought us sharp commentators who would never had access to the media traditionally (like this tweeter I turn to every morning to get the score).

“Do you trust everything you read on social media?” an ad for WNYC radio asks. They used to say the same thing about newspapers when I was a kid! The idea that information used to be a clean pool before all the clever internet liars arrived is a delusion on the part of entitled reporters of the fake news storyline. Storytelling is a primordial human experience. It is rooted in the need for knowledge to enhance our survival. We tell stories in an effort to make our lives better, more fulfilling, more understandable. And from the beginning of the story, there were lies. Some say that human beings have tongues in their mouths to deceive others, while some fiction writers will tell you that artifice is the soul of story. We all learn to sort out sincere and truthful from exaggerated and bogus. No, we don’t always succeed as readers and listeners at that job, but we try. Just as reporters seek to convey accurate versions of events despite their limitations; and artificers seek to construct more perfect tales to relate social and psychological quandaries.

There are surely hundreds of thousands of news sites today (millions?) where there used to be thousands of news outlets. The great preponderance of these sites do as we do here, try and present the most genuine version of events they are able to. As Ezra Pound once said, there is only one standard for writing: accuracy of statement. It’s not rocket science, but it is a struggle.

Are there sites that try to hoodwink readers? Of course. There have always been sensational papers, yellow journalism, scandal sheets, rumors, disinformation, boys crying wolf, and unreliable sources. Readers have always had a duty to sort this out. How many of us feel that we can size up the accuracy of an unknown site in a few seconds, from one sign or another? Readers are way more sophisticated than the fake-news reporters believe them to be. More than that, we know that some of the biggest lies originate from authorities. Which gives rise to conspiracy stories, going back to Shakespeare…

The claim that liars and fake-news sites handed the election to Donald Trump is fiction. A democracy gives the franchise to a lot of stupid people, on all sides. People believe what they want to believe. No doubt the internet has served to socialize information, tailoring it to tribal audiences (I seek out that baseball tweeter because we are likeminded, still our team can’t win), but it’s not as if information was objective before. The belief that people were manipulated into voting for Trump may be comforting to those who love the neoliberal elitism and interventionism of the post-9/11 world, but it doesn’t answer the complex reality that is American society.

The smartest reporting on the 2016 election was the study showing that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all had high casualty rates from America’s wars; and that these voters regarded Clinton as pro-war. And Clinton failed to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, even as her surrogates advocated for regime change in Syria on the cables. Those factors would seem to be as determinative as anything else that the big papers have told us about the debacle November 8. It would be a lot better if they would actually interview Trump voters, rather than lecturing us about fake news.

The claim that the Russians are behind fake news and they threw the election is just more fiction from a Democratic Party determined to have a new cold war in order to excuse itself from its failures to reach the white Obama voters who voted for Trump. Do people really think that the ads Russians placed on Facebook, or the data that Trump allies had access to through Cambridge Analytica, swayed people to vote for Trump? Is that how you made up your mind? Maybe a few fools changed their vote because of lies; but again that does not go to the real dynamics of the 2016 race. People disliked Clinton for good reasons. People sought a disrupter for good reasons.

If Russians were behind the Wikileaks hack of the Democratic National Committee emails, maybe we should be thanking them. The hack exposed real corruption: on my issue, the Clinton team’s active efforts to sell Clinton’s stance on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to big pro-Israel donors as a way to salve them for her support for the Iran deal. No one has disputed the accuracy of these emails, and they are a disturbing window on how politics works. It would be nice if the media would spend a little time on the substance of those emails. But no, the fake news story has a life of its own.

P.S. Judy Woodruff’s picture is atop this post because she and the PBS News Hour have taken the fake news story way too seriously. In fairness, I urge readers to watch her interview of two Boko Haram survivors, some of the best journalism you will ever see. 

Comments

revolla venturen Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:32 Permalink

"The idea that information used to be a clean pool before all the clever internet liars arrived is a delusion..."

Totally agree.

Remember the Entebbe Hijacking and the Munich Olympics Kidnapping in the 70s - both made into Hollywood movies?

Both were FAKE. And the news media and Hollywood lapped it up.

So, nothing new.

In reply to by venturen

38BWD22 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:23 Permalink

 

Yes of course there was always Fake News, way back when.  My parents pointed that out to me re TV reporters in the '60s.

I think it is all Faker now though.

Escrava Isaura WTFUD Sat, 05/19/2018 - 05:34 Permalink

38BWD22: there was always Fake News, way back when….I think it is all Faker now.

Sorry, there’s empirical evidence that there were much more fake news in the past than now. Here are couple examples:

1- If you look at the Jewish scriptures, the one that created the first monotheistic god 1,300 years before Christ was born; you’ll realize that 99.99% of those scriptures are all human creation, starting with Moses.

Then, as if those lies were not big enough, here come the biggest liars of all, the Christians. How can you tell?

2- Why that the Christians imported the Jewish scriptures and the Persian Mithras character as their Jesus while completely changing their narratives? Why fabricate from two lies/creations? Now can you see why Christianity is so dysfunctional? Because Christians lies are based on other’s people lies, meaning they can always obfuscate their shortcoming by blaming others. Let me give you an example how these lies plays out. Let’s use us, here:

There are millions of Christians in America and you can clearly see them here, at Zero Hedge. Then, if you ask these Christians what’s wrong with America, these millions of Christians will tell you that is these half dozen Jewish from AIPAC and/or the 30 Jewish organization in America. If wasn’t for these Jews America would be a benevolent country. We would mind our own business.

However, if you ask these benevolent Christians where would they get coffee, salt, and crude oil to mind their own business Trump idea, which these Christians support, would be to take by force.

You see, to these days these Christians’ still don’t know how to make a better copy.

    

In reply to by WTFUD

Truth_Hoits Escrava Isaura Sat, 05/19/2018 - 06:52 Permalink

Incoherent babble, you write.

Sense, it does not make, entirely.

1300 years before Christ?

Started with Moses?

Empirical evidence?

I've got a newsflash that absolutely isn't fake: You are a character on the internets. You exist because of a series of truth/false, ones and zeroes, ons and offs... If there was a block button or if the powers that be decided to, you'd cease to exist in this realm, zerohedge.

Others could write about you, but others could insist it is fake. 

You yourself wrote something here.

Using your logic, assuming you are a man, although I see plenty of androgenous characteristics in you, you are fallible and none of what you write can be trusted.

Your point is noted. 

Truth Hurts

 

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

Escrava Isaura Truth_Hoits Sat, 05/19/2018 - 10:06 Permalink

According to historical calculations, it was in approximately 1,300 BC that Moses received a list of ten laws directly from God. These laws were known as the Ten Commandments and were transcribed as part of the Book of Moses, which later became part of the Bible.

 

Here’s my point: In a church or synagogue religion BS cannot be challenged. A good example was Protestantism in Germany in the 16 century, if my recollection is correct, that led to over 100 thousands death that the leader of the Protestants had to reverse course and embrace hierarchy, like the Roman church. However, this is the internet, meaning you’ll be challenged as you and I should, period. My point stands, today’s lies are nothing compared to previous lies and the worst offender, religion.

 

I understand that many minds, for mislead reasons such as in movies, filtered myths, and propaganda believe that the past was better, of course, until they do some research and realize that was much worse.

 

But, who has time to research?

 

As the say goes: “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”  W.C. Fields

 

In reply to by Truth_Hoits

GreatUncle 38BWD22 Sat, 05/19/2018 - 05:27 Permalink

The following argument is a them and us, black and white argument.

The new is as fake as it has always been.

The quantity may be more because the lies we hear are more.

Critical minds should only accept truth with real evidence.

Now look at the MSM / Government statements, the no real evidence or bullshit for so called stated facts.

Dissect one bit ...

a) A bankster tells you your savings keep up with the rate of some quoted inflation.

b) When you get to call upon the savings at a later date the smaller amount is then found.

When you put a) + b) together at the same time you may as well of handed the bank a % of your money to hold you savings.

Now you speculate ... this is the fake news for the banksters / ruling elite because they got found out.

That is NIRP!

Call it Keynes to formalise the NIRP concept the banksters were already using.

No economic policy would be allowed even 100 year ago if it made a bankster poorer.

The bankster economic system farms ordinary people of their wealth.

Any statistics to show otherwise are manipulated to ensure this truth is hidden.

Conclusion.

The former is the truth the latter speculation is what they call fake news.

You can do exactly the same with democracy / voting rights ... the approved candidate by mainstream political parties and the fake news representing you rubbish.

Actually you can apply it to anything a politician says because that is the start of all fake news.

 

 

 

 

 

In reply to by 38BWD22

BabaLooey 38BWD22 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:48 Permalink

First questions I ask ANYONE I meet; (and I do so respectfully to elicit honest answers)

"Where do you get your news?"

"Whom do you trust in that regard?"

"Whom do you really listen to?"

Isolate those 3 questions - to anyone you meet - and instantly, you'll know their;

 - approximate I.Q. (both emotional and knowledge capacity)

- if they are a CRITICAL THINKER - or not (most times....not)

- What "side" they are on - ideologically, as well as mind set.

Try it.

Has saved me loads of time dealing with people - most, that I don't WANT to deal with.

AND....

“Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have.” -Richard Salant, former president of CBS News

“We are going to impose our agenda on the coverage, by dealing with issues and subjects that we choose to deal with.” – Richard Cohen, Senior Producer, CBS Political News

 

AND FINALLY...

The 60 Minutes Deception (full length, official documentary) How Clinton affects the media

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtuswlH8ncY

In reply to by 38BWD22

OverTheHedge BabaLooey Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:00 Permalink

As a defence mechanism, I would probably lie in answer to all your questions, to avoid having to spend hours being"reprogrammed", or"saved".

I recently tried to tell a German citizen that the ICRC report (https://www.scribd.com/document/238154580/A-Factual-Appraisal-of-the-Ho…) exists, and that 6 million is not correct. Ever seen that guy's head explode in Scanners? (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B_Lnz64vXB8) There's no mileage in truth for most people. I wanted to use it as an example of how we are being lied to, all the time - not actually discuss the Holocaust, which would probably be illegal in Germany, but the meltdown was instant, excessive, and I am now labeled as a righter than right-wing neo-nazi psychopath in search of a genocide. 

Mostly it is easier to pass it off as a harmless eccentricity - I tell people I am amused by conspiracy theories, which gives me a reason to be looking at all the insane Fake News sites (such as Zerohedge).

In reply to by BabaLooey

BabaLooey OverTheHedge Sat, 05/19/2018 - 04:54 Permalink

As a defence mechanism, I would probably lie in answer to all your questions, to avoid having to spend hours being"reprogrammed", or"saved".

I guess you missed the part where I don't "re-program" or try to "save" anyone.

Talk about a tremendous waste of time. The LAST thing I would want to do. No...it's to assess  - and most probably...AVOID you if you give answers akin to being zombied by the MSM.

Plus, if you lie, then commence babbling a la CNN - I'd smoke you out JUST listening to you - and know you lied. 

See: AVOID

 

In reply to by OverTheHedge

OverTheHedge BabaLooey Sat, 05/19/2018 - 07:31 Permalink

If I ever meet you, and you subject me to the list of questions as stated, I am going to assume that you are either mad, looking for a fight, or looking to get me to admit to something compromising - hence my straightforward approach of not telling the truth. There is no way I would want to talk about anything interesting with someone I just met: I tried that for years, and it never goes well. Nod, smile, talk about the weather. The Royal Wedding -ooh, lovely. Anything else just makes you depressed, or angry, or ostracised. Doesn't mean I don't forget from time to time, and have the odd stand-up shouting match at alcohol-fueled after-dinner sessions, but it tends not to go well, as people don't take kindly to the truth (see my German friend as an example).

In reply to by BabaLooey

kikrlbs Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:30 Permalink

There is almost nothing on tv and in advertising that I believe anymore. Study some basic logic, apply it, and see how absurd the msm really is. It's disgusting.

Sizzurp Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:32 Permalink

I turned off the leftist mainstream news in the early 80's. That being said, mainstream news outlets are far more radical now than they were 30 years ago.  Our culture and national identity have been systematically dismantled by the globalist corporate media. 

land_of_the_few Sizzurp Sat, 05/19/2018 - 01:48 Permalink

Well, they regard their own population as their biggest threat.

Which is why the latest iteration  of robber-baron gilded-age style "capitalism" i.e. Western Oligarchs and monopolies in many sectors is being sold as "you can have as much buttsex as you can handle as long as you let us rob you blind, you can even do it like dogs in the streets". Identity politics fooling the proles to pull them into supporting money-war abroad and commercial Feudalism at home.

People that don't want or need buttsex will be convinced otherwise by "innocent humanitarian envoys" and foreign buttsex  NGOs and Soros. Hence Western ambassadors joining Pride parades when they, their wives or daughters or Rotary Club pals have previously shown no interest whatsoever in taking it up their own Gary, or in fact any interest in the local population whatsoever.

So buttsex is being traded for things like the ownership of their nation's water and power supply and free rein for mercenaries and headchoppers.

For example - Peshmerga. There are Pershmerga guys and aged grannies, but they never show them on camera, even if they could be trained to dance cutely. It's supposed to be a young sistas doin it for themselves deal, as far as the Western yoga-zombie audiences are concerned.

 

 

In reply to by Sizzurp

falconflight Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:40 Permalink

American 'news' outlets have been corporately owned/controlled dating back to the late 1800's, and before that, owned by individuals benefiting by benefiting powerful interests of the day.  Yellow Journalism, muckraking, etc.  Can't say that it's been any different elsewhere, except government influence/control figured more prominently in much of the rest of the world.

Ajax-1 Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:48 Permalink

It is undeniable that the shear volume of fake news stories has increased exponentially over the past 20 years. Journalism is dead and the so called "media" are actually political operatives masquerading as journalists. They are agenda driven whores with no regard for truth and intellectual honesty.

ItsAllBollocks Fri, 05/18/2018 - 23:57 Permalink

Might, could, possible, may and probable are just some of our trusted news services favorite words. Along with unnamed, spokesperson, undisclosed, alleged and potentially. Sources close to is another. All of which translate to unverified. MSM, ZH and many others are guilty. Even following hyperlinks lead you in circles. Take note as you read these articles how many are unverified and have unnamed sources. You'll be amazed.

PiratePiggy Sat, 05/19/2018 - 00:18 Permalink

The mainstream media has long been supportive of the two party cartel because they get their funding from it and political favors from it. The movie studios use their "news" channels to encourage more laws requiring tax payers to pay for the enforcement of their property rights (a form of welfare) and in return, and challenges to the two party cartel are ignored in the news. 

??????€ Sat, 05/19/2018 - 00:25 Permalink

 The term fake news was an invention of the Hillary campaign and her media sycophants revealed in the podesta emails.  They invented it to get ahead of the Jimmy Comet pizzagate revelations  and his connection with the Clinton campaign and especially Obama. The term has taken on a life of its own ever since.

Anunnaki Sat, 05/19/2018 - 00:33 Permalink

Huff Poo 98.2% likelihood of a Hellary victory

 

AP 92%

 

NYT between 85-99%

 

Nate Silver 79%

 

The Presstitutes over sampled Dems in their polls when at least 5 million exited the party under Obunghole 

 

Plus they naively assumed Sandroids would loyally queue up to the polls to become Hillbots

 

Once exposed as frauds, in true Alinsky style, they called any Hellary rejectionists as fake news.

 

It is all about preserving their “legitimacy” as they continue to fail and lose money. That is why they hate RT

OverTheHedge Is-Be Sat, 05/19/2018 - 02:09 Permalink

Dark matter.

80% of the matter in the universe is hiding. Honest! We'll find it, given enough funding, but for the moment it still eludes us.

When I get my sums wrong by 80%, I fredo my work, because I have obviously made a complete dog's breakfast of it all. I don't rework reality to prove that my completely cockeyed thinking is correct.

In reply to by Is-Be

VideoEng_NC Sat, 05/19/2018 - 00:43 Permalink

They are now saying that “monitoring” the Trump campaign was all on the up & up.  Let that fucking sink in.  For my tax dollar I want the Marines sent in right now.