Fake news! Yeah, that’s it!
Surely (say the Democrats) there must be some reason for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Republican Donald Trump in last month’s presidential election other than a simple preference for Trump over an unlikable candidate with a lengthy resume of questionable activity, an attitude of entitlement that just wouldn’t quit, and a deep devotion to tiresome identity politics.
After about 48 hours of soul-searching, Clinton’s pals in the mainstream media decided that her shocking defeat (and their inability to predict it) couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with them, that they had faithfully presented truth and righteousness to the public, only to be undermined by a lot of made-up stuff from “fake news” sources like Breitbart, TheBlaze and even Rush Limbaugh.
Even Conservative Tribune and USA Liberty News.
Note the premise: Fake news had to have helped only Trump, because no liberal would ever stoop to such low tactics. Never mind that we at Conservative Tribune have presented multiple instances of the most “respectable” mainstream news outlets promoting fakery in order to advance a leftist agenda. No, liberals believe they should be allowed to censor those filthy conservatives who made up a lot of garbage and swung the election.
Turns out that fake news — liberal or conservative — might not have had any discernible impact on the election, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal cites a Pew Research survey indicating that about 80 percent of Americans believe they can spot fake news when they see it, while only about 30 percent believe they encounter it regularly.
That doesn’t sound like a problem big enough to swing a presidential election, and the Journal reports that there is “zero evidence” that the election was affected by contrived stories.
So apparently the sky isn’t falling — but Facebook thinks it is, and is testing new technology that will lead to stories flagged by users being fact-checked by supposedly responsible third parties. Unfortunately those third parties would be entities like the Associated Press, ABC News and PolitiFact — which is operated by a group of publications, including media giants like Cox and Gannett (the people who bring you USA Today) with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
What kind of fact-checking might these heavyweights give us?
Politico (which was launched by former Washington Post personnel and is aligned with CBS) cited as an “untruth” Trump’s assertion that the Islamic State group was evil on a scale that was “unbelievable.” That was further than Politico was willing to go in its assessment of the Islamic State, so Politico called Trump’s opinion — to which he is entitled — an untruth.
PolitiFact, according to the Journal, awarded a “true” rating to President Barack Obama’s now-infamous promise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” They did downgrade that to “half true” in 2009, so let’s give them half credit for half caring about all the people whose health care arrangements were turned upside down by Obama’s lie.
The Journal also recalled that PolitiFact gave Republican Rep. Ron Paul and Democrat Sen. Jim Webb different ratings for the same statement about income tax law. Wanna guess which one got the higher rating?
So it’s hard not to conclude that it’s not “fake news” that’s a threat to democracy. The threat comes from those who want to sit in judgment of “fake news” in order to protect their own agenda from the brains of an electorate with multiple viewpoints available to it.
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