I moved to Europe in 1998, and it was just about that time that the New York Times went online in a serious way. I still remember sitting at an Amsterdam café one day at happy hour and having an American tourist say to me, with obvious wonder: “Did you know that you can read the New York Times online every day? The whole paper? For free?” For years thereafter, nytimes.com was the first site I went to every morning. It was, after all, the “newspaper of record.” And at the time, I was a regular contributor to it. In those days, hardly a month went by without my byline appearing in one section of the paper or another – the book review, the travel section, the op-ed page, Leisure & Arts, Week in Review. Even after I published my book on Islam, While Europe Slept, in 2006, and the phone calls and e-mails from the dozen or so Times editors I worked with mysteriously stopped coming all at once, I continued to peruse the Gray Lady while sipping my morning coffee.
Just after a ‘Viewsnight’ slot given to Tariq Ramadan – dauphin of the Muslim Brotherhood – it was back to the studio for a discussion about President Trump with two guests down the line from Washington.
Here is how O’Brien introduced them: ‘Anne Gearan from the Washington Post and Asra Nomani who has written for outlets such as Breitbart and The Hill.’ To say that the way in which O’Brien introduced the latter was acidic is to understate matters.
AP reported that according to a draft 11-page memo, the Trump administration is considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants. However, the White House quickly slammed the agency’s report is “false.” In yet another leak-counterleak example of “spot the fake news”, moments after the AP report hit, the White House denied everything.
The media narrative that recently ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was involved in nefarious — nay, sinister and possibly treasonous!!! — dealings in his December call with the Russian ambassador is quickly collapsing, as CNN reports that the FBI will not be pursuing any criminal investigation involving Flynn’s phone call.
So too is the hype that the Trump campaign was riddled with contacts with Russian intelligence, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
There was a time when “fake news” was simply known as “a lie,” but it’s a mark of an insecure and dangerous society when it needs to come up with a new word after the old one seems to have lost its meaning. In any case it’s a far more useful term in a profession where public mistrust is steadily falling – a recent Gallup poll traced public trust of the media falling to 32% from its most recent high of 55% in 1999. Simply put, if you can quarantine purveyors of “fake news” somewhere outside of the legitimate mainstream media, it’s easier to disguise the long-term problem journalism has had with fibs, fabrications, falsehoods and fabulists ever since it began.
This week’s World’s Smallest Violin Award goes to Fake News Network CNN — specifically to be shared between Fake Newsman Jake Tapper and Fake Newsman Chris Cuomo, both of whom took whiny umbrage at being called Fake News while purveying Fake News.
Cuomo, who really needs to eat more brain food, even possibly more brains, said that being called Fake News while purveying Fake News is like being called the N-word. He later apologized, but not enough. He should have added banging his head repeatedly against a wall while saying, “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” over and over again.
Early November: Spike in Transgender Suicide Rates
After Trump’s electoral victory on November 8, rumors began circulating that multiple transgender teenagers had killed themselves in response to the election results. There was no basis to these rumors. Nobody was able to confirm them at the time, and nobody has been able to confirm in the three months since Trump was elected.
Nevertheless, the claim spread far and wide: Guardian writer and editor-at-large of Out Zach Stafford tweeted the rumor, which was retweeted more than 13,000 times before he deleted it. He later posted a tweet explaining why he deleted his original viral tweet; his explanatory tweet was shared a total of seven times. Meanwhile, PinkNews writer Dominic Preston wrote a report on the rumors, which garnered more than 12,000 shares on Facebook.More.
Reality check: Fake news (rumour has it…) isn’t new. The fact that dying traditional media host it is new. That’s their problem, not the world’s, unless we choose to adopt it as they understand it, which means fighting to preserve them.
If it began during the election with ad revenue-hungry hoax sites and false information campaigns directed largely at Hillary Clinton, fake news in the Trump era has seeped into the liberal online ecosystem in the form of viral posts on Medium, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook — with progressives elevating anonymous social media accounts, floating outlandish conspiracies, and seizing on stories that don’t hold up to the facts.
There are new cases daily. Suspicions about his 2020 re-election filing. Theories about the “regime’s” plan for a “coup d’état against the United States” (complete with Day After Tomorrow imagery of New York City buried in snow). Stories based on an unverified Twitter account offering supposed “secrets” from “rogue” White House staffers (followed by more than 650,000 people). Even theories about the Twitter account (“Russian disinformation”).
Since the election, the debunking website Snopes has monitored a growing list of fake news articles aimed at liberals, shooting down stories about a new law to charge protesters with terrorism, a plan to turn the USS Enterprise into a floating casino, and a claim that Vice President Mike Pence put himself through gay conversion therapy. More.
Reality check: The obvious solution for these people is, quit snorting what you sell. Maybe quit snorting? The real reason progressives lost US 2016 is that they wanted to continue to take the United States in a direction in which enough people did not want to go. So they lost command of the ship. It says something about them that after all this time, they just cannot accept that and still need big doses of fake news to prop up their belief system.
See also: Progressive warns against left-wing conspiracy theories
Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.
Since at least Donald Trump’s election, our media have been in the grip of an astonishing, self-inflicted crisis. Despite Trump’s constant railing against the American press, there is no greater enemy of the American media than the American media. They did this to themselves.
We are in the midst of an epidemic of fake news. There is no better word to describe it than “epidemic,” insofar as it fits the epidemiological model from the Centers for Disease Control: this phenomenon occurs when “an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts.”
News that President Donald Trump was easing sanctions against Russia was refuted almost immediately, like so many other stories.
The Department of the Treasury said Thursday that it would allow U.S. companies to make limited transactions with the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s intelligence agency. Possibly eager to establish a connection between the new U.S. president and Russia, numerous media outlets and journalists were quick to claim that Trump was easing, and even lifting, sanctions against Russia.
As it turns out, the move was a “technical fix” planned by the Obama administration. More.
Reality check: Part of the problem in many cases is that dying media industries are not typically hiring out of the top of the class. Many of the current meltdowns and freakouts may not even be strongly politically motivated. Rather, the people involved don’t have a good news sense and possibly can’t develop one. Perhaps such qualities are not even sought, praised, or rewarded anymore.
See also: No need to apologize, mainstream media, re shamelessly fronting Clinton. You are obsolete. We have the internet. We have kitty litter too.
NYT rededicates itself to reporting honestly? Earth to NYT’s Sulzberger: The whole world does not consist of serially abused wives