Category Archives: Fake News

Pouring cold water on the fake news panic

From Michael Cook at MercatorNet:

Just a handful of academic studies have attempted to measure the impact of fake news – as opposed to the dissemination of fake news.

In January 2017, Jacob L. Nelson, of Northwestern University, published an article in the Columbia Journalism Review.

He poured cold water on fake news panic. In the first place, the readership of internet fake news is tiny compared to the real news audience–just one-tenth. Readers also spent more time on average with real news than fake news.

And most significantly, readers of fake news do not exist in a filter bubble. Visitors to fake news sites visited real news sites just as often as visitors to real news sites visited other real news sites. In fact, sometimes fake news audiences visited real news sites more often.

Nelson concluded: “Is ‘fake news’ a fake problem?”More.

Reality check: Yes, it is a fake and very old problem. There has always been lots of fake news and disinformation out there, as anyone who has glanced at the supermarket checkout counter tabloids in th last fifty years will have noticed.

Hillary Clinton lost the US election because of real news that her party was unequipped to face, period.

See also: Part I: What isfake news? Do we believe it?

Part II: Does fake news make a difference in politics?

Part III: What can we do about fake news that would not diminish real news? Critics of ‘fake news’ should go to China — only the government has the right to post fake news.

Extra! Extra! A handy guide to the normal fake news: Surviving information overload


CNN dumps fave pollster

From Katherine Rodriguez at Breitbart Big Journalism:

CNN announced that after ten years, it parted ways this week with its longtime polling firm, ORC International, amid charges of fake news and faulty polls. ORC’s chief marketing officer Ana Mackay-Sim confirmed that CNN “did not renew their polling contract” with ORC International. The polling firm worked with CNN since 2006 and had continued their partnership after the 2016 presidential election until late April.

The public’s distrust of polls, in CNN’s case, may have to do with some of the final 2016 presidential election polls in some swing states being off greater than the margin of error. More.

Reality check: Lying to oneself is even riskier than lying to the public.

See also: Are polls scientific? Well, what happens when human complexity foils electoral predictions?



Provocateur Journalism

CNN uncritically publishes a list of “hate groups” compiled by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.

When a news organization reports an impending weather event based on forecasts from the National Weather Service, or warns of potential seismic activity anticipated by the U.S. Geological Survey, or alerts the public concerning an infectious-disease outbreak being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no one questions the news organization’s motives, because the underlying information is factual and derived from a reliable, nonpartisan, and authoritative source.

CNN presents itself as a news organization, yet today it posted a dubious storytitled “Here are all the active hate groups where you live,” based entirely on data from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is not the equivalent of the National Weather Service, the USGS, or CDC, to put it mildly. It is risible for CNN to recite SPLC data uncritically, with no additional validation, as a credible list of “domestic hate groups,” let alone to describe SPLC’s data as “widely accepted.” As I recently chronicled in City Journal, the SPLC is far from a reliable, nonpartisan, and authoritative source.


Trump Spoke Truth About ‘Both Sides’ In Charlottesville, And The Media Lost Their Minds

The media behavior in the wake of this press conference was arguably something new, a sort of grotesque watermark of the media’s coverage of the Trump administration thus far.

Our media have a problem: they are essentially incapable of covering Donald Trump with anything less than full-on deranged hysteria.

I do not say this as an excess of rhetoric or op-ed theatrics. It is a very real, very pressing problem, only getting worse, and it poses a significant danger to the social fabric of the United States. Twenty-first century American media has the ability to shape our discourse and shift our public consciousness, and it is abusing that power in the worst ways possible. This is likely a bigger problem than any of us realizes.


AP: Avoid the Term ‘Alt-Right’ as a ‘Public Relations Device’

The Associated Press vice president for standards announced that they will try to avoid using the term “alt-right” to describe neo-Nazis and white supremacists, since it “may exist primarily as a public relations device.” To which many conservatives will say: Good, we’ve never wanted to be associated with those noxious beliefs. AP’s John Daniszewski announced

Because anyone who doesn’t exist within the media bubble is a suspect Nazi.


The Media Mislead America about Domestic Terror Threats

When chronicling acts of terror, mainstream journalists often minimize jihadists and ignore left-wing extremists.

It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west: When there’s an act of Islamic terror, some in the media will take great pains to minimize the threat. When there’s an act of white-supremacist terror, many of the same folks will overhype the threat from the right, often making it out to be greater than the threat of jihadist terror.

In either case, all too few will look past the political spin to recognize the truth: Violence is a problem at both extremes of the political spectrum, and jihadists are the most dangerous extremists of all.


Watch Don Lemon Whitewash Antifa In 90 Seconds

CNN anchor Don Lemon whitewashed on Tuesday the violent far-left “anti-fascist” (or “antifa”) agitators behind many of the violent riots around the country.

Lemon was responding to President Trump’s press conference in which he blamed violent actors on “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. Lemon responded by claiming antifa is a “protest group” simply “protesting hate in America” whose “tactics” maybe “weren’t exactly right.”


Are We Really Afraid Of Insulting Terrorists?

Charlottesville, Va. was aflame this weekend after white supremacists and race protesters gathered to clash over local government plans to move a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E Lee.

The protests grew violent. One person died and many were injured when a white supremacist rammed his car into Antifa protesters. Two police officers died in a helicopter crash. Dozens more were injured in violent skirmishes. Neither side demonstrated peacefully.

Activists in D.C. set themselves aflame when President Trump denounced the violence as an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” A White House spokesperson later denounced white supremacy and Neo-Nazism specifically.


Extra! Extra! A handy guide to the normal fake news: Surviving information overload

From Denyse O’Leary at MercatorNet:

10. Studies show…

There are now millions of studies in the world and most of us can analyze very few of them. Many of these studies are of poor quality, especially in contentious fields such as social sciences and nutrition. But these are the very fields whose findings are widely touted in popular media. When treated as some kind of truth, they are a form of fake news.

Jonny Anomaly and Brian Boutwell lament at Quillette:

Chances are you’ve found yourself in a heated conversation among a group of friends, family, or colleagues when someone throws down the gauntlet: “Actually, studies show…” Some nod in silent agreement, others check their text messages, and finally someone changes the subject.

It’s hard to know what to say when people cite scientific studies to prove their point. Sometimes we know the study and its relative merits. But most of the time we just don’t know enough to confirm or refute the statement that the study is supposed to support. We are floating in a sea of information, and all we can do is flounder around for the nearest buoy to support a view that’s vaguely related to the conversation. More.

The fact that we are not able to analyze the studies does not obligate us to accept the information provided as a truth. Not only can a study be wrong, so can dozens or hundreds of them. Without further information, we should just use our own best judgment while avoiding useless social conflict.

Another type of fake news is insinuation. If media frequently hint that the mayor is suspected of corruption, they may never need to defend their claims. They needn’t fear libel either if they make no specific accusation. They merely plant the idea and repeat it until it festers. Then there is the fake news practice is treating only the figures on one side of a controversy as experts. The ones on other side are mere dissidents, regardless of the state of the evidence. Readers who examine news stories thoughtfully will doubtless come up with many other categories of fake news as well. It’s fun, usually free, and any number can play.

See also: What can we do about fake news that would not diminish real news? Critics of ‘fake news’ should go to China — only the government has the right to post fake news.


MSNBC Host Throws Out Blatantly False Stats To Blame Terrorism Deaths On Right Wing

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle incorrectly claimed Monday that right-wing extremists are responsible for “three times more deaths” than Islamic extremists.

“Between 2001 and now, we have seen three times more deaths caused by right-wing extremists than Islamic terrorists,” Ruhle stated during her show.

Assuming Ruhle was referencing a widely-cited report by the Government Accountability Office, Ruhle’s statement was not only misleading, but just plain wrong.


NYT’s ‘Leaked’ Bombshell Climate Report Was Actually Public For Months

A draft government climate assessment The New York Times “obtained” and claims is not yet public has actually been available online since January, according to scientists who worked on the report.

TheNYT reportedly obtained a draft copy of the upcoming National Climate Assessment (NCA), quoting unnamed scientists who feared “the Trump administration could change or suppress the report.” TheNYT also reported that global warming skeptics were “equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger NCA, will be publicly released.”