Ah, fake news. It's the buzz word of buzz words these days. It seems that anytime a story pops up that someone doesn't like it's "fake news." Fake, fake, fake.
It started as a concerted effort (after the election) to confront actual phony websites that passed themselves off as legitimate news. The problem was the so-called "list" of fake news websites contained several legitimate news organizations. They just happened to be conservative websites.
This set off a crap storm of fighting between conservative and liberals, who both claimed the other side was spreading the actual fake news.
Now fake news seems to be a tactic utilized by many, but the truth is it is a new word for an old scheme.
They say that if you mix a little bit of truth in a lie, it makes it easier to believe. You see, that's better than outright lying to your audience. If you can inject something that feels believable, you might be able to get your reader to swallow the rest of it.
Much like sneaking aspirin into apple sauce. Except in this case, the aspirin is poisonous lies.
The Milo controversy is a prime example of the kind of fake news we're seeing lately. I reported earlier in the week that Milo Yiannopoulos, conservative gay advocate and writer, was experiencing fallout from videos of him seemingly mocking, even defending, pedophilia.
While the video footage was real, it was edited and taken out of context to present a narrative that was false. Even when the man defended himself, with verifiable proof that he not only despises child abuse, but exposed actual pedophiles, the damage was done. He lost his speaking slot at CPAC, his book deal, and was forced to resign from Breitbart. Not to mention the damage that was done to his personal life.
Regardless of your opinions about Milo, it is a good example of how easy it is to take footage, leaks, or other bits of data and twist them to say anything you want. Whether it's true or not. Fake news.
Recently at a press conference, Donald Trump addressed the issue of leaks coming from his White House. He said the leaks were real, but the news was fake. CNN correspondents were quick to jump on this, as a seeming contradiction. But as experts in fake news (all cable news networks are) they know exactly how a journalist can take a few pieces of data and spin them.
Another staple of fake news is to conveniently ignore actual facts that would otherwise disprove your argument. When President Trump mentioned at a recent rally that Sweden is facing serious problems as a result of their migrant policies, the media was quick to ask "What problems? They have no problems."
Clearly, they were ignoring numerous stories of how Sweden is suffering from unchecked violence and chaos.
Here's a little taste:
A migrant who fled the Somali Civil War 20 years ago is considering moving back to his homeland as he says Sweden has become a “war zone.”
Revealing that other migrants have fled parts of Sweden in fear of their lives, Mohammed Dame said he believes that Sweden is no longer a safe place.
Interviewed at a secret location, Dame said he and his family are on the run from criminal gangs that now rule the Gothenburg suburbs. (via Breitbart)
By the way, that story was from September 2016. And that's only a tip of the iceberg. Apparently, all the major news networks don't know how to use Google to discover that Sweden has a big problem.
Or perhaps they were deliberately trying to cover up the facts.
But of course, Trump didn't have to wait very long to be vindicated, as this happened a day after his remarks:
In the aftermath of Milo's character assassination, liberal and conservative outlets attacked him for at the very least, being callous towards victims of pedophilia. Of course, they ignored the fact that he was a victim of sexual abuse, as he admitted, over the course of several years.
But the media also ignored frequent cases of liberal celebrities, who had no problem joking about pedophilia, in a much more callous way than Milo.
A video clip of George Takei apparently joking about child molestation has gone viral on Twitter, with many asking why the liberal outrage hasn’t followed.
In the clip, Takei speaks about being at summer camp as a 13-year-old and having an 18-year-old camp counselor come into his cabin, kiss him and molest him.
The excerpt many seem to find most jarring is when Takei insists he wasn’t actually molested because he found the perpetrator “attractive.” (via Milo)
Sounds like molestation to me. Then there was Sarah Silverman's shocking tweet.
You can argue whether or not it's appropriate to joke about pedophilia. Surely comedians are expected to be edgy and controversial; that's the nature of comedy. However, the fake news here is that people were quick to decry a rising conservative figure for jokes and other assumed comments about pedophilia, but were conveniently blind to other instances when liberals said much the same thing.
I don't like the term fake news, as I've mentioned in the past. I think it- much like many other things in our culture- oversimplifies a complex and nefarious problem. It's too easy just to believe what we see on a news program or article. It takes some real thought to look into a situation and discover what is factual and what isn't
Sometimes we need to wait for the full story to come out- if it ever does- before we make up our own minds. Fake news- or simply put- dishonest coverage of the news makes it even harder to do that.
But then, once and a while, we come across real fake news. And I mean really real fake news.
HillaryBeatTrump.org is a website filled with fake news stories from an alternate universe where Hillary Clinton is President of the United States.
The website’s tagline is “News From The Real America, Where The Majority Rules” – a reference, of course, to the oft-cited notion that the popular vote actually means something.
The site’s ‘About Us’ page reads: In the midst of a Constitutional crisis, this is our response. Long live the true president, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (via Milo)
A cursory glance of the site and you'll realize it's trying to be like the Onion- a comedy-driven farce- only much less clever. Considering all the stories lean heavily left- criticizing Trump and conservatives and presenting nonsense about Hillary having an 89 percent approval rating- smacks more than just satire.
It smells of all the safe spaces and pacifier-logic that we've come to expect from the fantasy-driven left. Unable to cope with reality, they seek the false refuge of pure fiction. I'm sure this site was crafted in the hope that liberal colleges students, blue-haired feminists, and pudgy trans-whatevers can read it and feel a little better. At least once a day.
Calling that site fake news is a bit overkill, though, if you ask me. A better word would be sad.
So as we wade into the storm of fake news, sensational headlines, and knee-jerk reporting, we must always arm ourselves with common sense and critical thinking. We must cultivate a really good "bullshit meter" to weed out those stories and articles that just aren't up to snuff.
And we must make our voices heard, among the chaos.