Bad Week for Fake News Media

It was a rough week for the Fake News Media, and I don’t just mean having two of their top heads outed as rapists. (Only two so far, right? I haven’t checked in a few hours.)

By the way, about that term “Fake News”: the president didn’t invent that, like many people think. CNN invented it. They were pissed that a couple of stories that they wanted to bury came out through ordinary people on social media last year and may have influenced some voters. So they came up with this promotional idea where they would promote “Real News” being approved mainstream sources like themselves, and then everything else like independent researchers and bloggers would be Fake News that all decent people should avoid. Get all your news from approved sources, or you’re probably a terrorist. (Facebook and Twitter are now trying to do the same thing algortithmically.)

So some of us (nerds on the Internet) saw that and realized we could shove that term right back down their pie-holes, because they’re faker than anyone these days, so we proceeded to do that. Mr. Trump picked up on it at some point, which we loved, because the bully pulpit of the presidency is far more powerful than some nerds (we do okay).

So, bad week for them. First there was the Tillerson story. Someone picked up a supposed leak that said Tillerson was out, Pompeo over to State, etc. Within minutes, the MSM were all repeating it. Now, I read a book when I was young about a boy reporter. Don’t remember what it was called, but this boy was very serious about reporting. He always made sure to get the Who, What, When, Where, and Why, and he always checked his sources. I think journalism schools used to teach things like verifying facts with multiple sources, but they sure don’t follow that anymore. One anonymous source is enough to run with a story, and one tweet based on an anonymous source is enough for all the rest of them.

Here’s the thing: *I* could do that. You could too. Any of us could watch Twitter, grab a tweet we like the looks of, and promote it as news. Give us a CNN byline, and it would be news, and lots of people would take it seriously. That’s ridiculous.

So Tillerson wasn’t out, just another false story, no harm done, right? But there’s a purpose behind it. One goal is to sow dissension in the White House by making them worry who’s leaking things. Another is to cause trouble between Trump and Tillerson. It’s known that they don’t always get along, so maybe a story like that could make Tillerson angry and get him to do a “I quit before you can fire me,” or say something rude to Trump. Or maybe it’ll make Trump think one of them is leaking, and fire the guy. It’s not a mistake they made because they’re sloppy; it’s an attempt to turn their narrative into reality, instead of reporting on reality.

A small one was the Hillsdale story. Hillsdale is a small college that’s known for not taking any federal funds, and for teaching a conservative curriculum that’s become popular among homeschoolers as well. (Obviously bad sorts.) Something in the new tax bill apparently gives a break to them that it doesn’t give to all the regular colleges — which get federal funds from all sorts of different programs. This didn’t sit well with leftists, that this one school they don’t like would get special treatment. Senator Schumer claimed all this, and the media ran with it for a day. But it was a lie. There are at least six other colleges in the country that will qualify for the new exemption. It doesn’t matter whether Schumer knew he was lying; the reporters should have checked.

The big one was the Flynn charges. As soon as that broke, ABC ran with a claim that Flynn had agreed to testify against Trump, and that Trump had told him to talk to Russia. Again, this was based on a single tweet claiming it came from a “confidant.” It was false on both counts, and later in the day ABC apologized and ran a retraction. But again, they did it with a purpose. The false report ran around social media all day, and by the time they ran the retraction, a lot of people had disconnected from the news for the weekend. So there are millions of liberals running around smiling because they think Flynn-testify-IMPEACH! and nothing of the sort is coming. When it doesn’t happen, they’ll think he cheated his way out of it or something. That’s just cruel.

It’s gotten ridiculous, with more false reports than true at times, and even dangerous. The ABC report sent the stock market diving for a while, because something like an impeachment would naturally breed a lot of uncertainty, which the market doesn’t like. It mostly recovered later when everyone figured out it was Fake News, but maybe the next fake story will crash it good and hard. It’s also increasing the divisions in society. People are being wrapped in a bubble of disinformation and being encouraged to stay in it, nice and comfy and being told what they want to hear all the time. Stick to the approved news channels, and let Twitter and Facebook filter your feed so you don’t see any offensive ideas, everything will be fine. What happens when they step out of that bubble?

The networks should start thinking about their FCC licenses. A license isn’t the First Amendment. The First Amendment Freedom of the Press means you can start a newspaper and print whatever you like (though President Lincoln did lock up lots of them). An FCC license is a privilege that comes with responsibilities, not total freedom. It limits what they can broadcast, like nudity and bad language, and requires things like hours devoted to educational material. There used to be something called the Fairness Doctrine that said networks had to give some time to both sides. That’s why round-table talk shows always had a token conservative. I think they dropped that a few years back, but they still have limits. Sedition (trying to overthrow the government) is probably not allowed. I’m not an expert, but from what I’ve seen, some licenses could be in jeopardy if the FCC started enforcing the rules.

But like I said several months back, we don’t need them anyway. If I want to know what the White House is saying, press conferences are broadcast online every day. I don’t need the MSM to tell me anything official, and they lie constantly about everything else. I’m better off getting information by word-of-mouth from people involved in things and local reporters who are actually on the scene, the way it was done before mass communications made the MSM possible. We need to cut them out of our information loop, before they get us warring with each other any worse.

I’d go into the news about Strzok, the FBI agent having the affair and sending anti-Trump texts while investigating Trump, because it’s awesome, but this is already too long. Maybe tomorrow.