Class Warfare Blog

December 6, 2016

All the “Fake News” that Is Fit to Publish

Apparently the latest hot topic for political pundits to pontificate upon is the idea of “fake news,” otherwise known as lies. What they are decrying is not that lies exist or that there are so many of them, but they are so easy to “publish.” Hah!

There are more lies now than any other time in human history and I am confident in that statement because there are more people alive that ever before in human history and all humans lie. And it is also true that each of us has more reach than ever before. You are, for example, reading this blog, which in effect is my personal publication organ. This was not possible even a short time ago.

What is lacking is not control over the sources of such material, after all we do pride ourselves in having a political system that protects the freedom of speech, but that people are apparently not at all skeptical about the “information” they have available.

I must insist that all news is fake news. It is the case in which every time I have been interviewed for publication that I have felt that the interview and what was published were at odds. Local papers never seem to get it right. I have heard that same criticism over the years about larger publications.

“I must insist that all news is fake news.”

The manipulations of the Bush administration leading up to the Iraq war were willingly embraced by major “news” publications, even though they turned out to be made of whole cloth. What, the utterances of our politicians are no longer trustworthy? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you … that anyone ever thought they were. Politicians look at the “press” (now “the news media”) as something to be managed or controlled, not as something to embrace as a bulwark of democracy. The “press” no longer looks at itself as the protector of democracy, nor does it have the role of scourge of dishonest politicians.

What is needed is for all of us to be a lot more skeptical. We need to ask “Where did you hear/get that?” On Facebook? Oh, that explains a lot. Apparently many Americans get a substantial amount of their news off of Facebook. WTF? Well, Facebook has a well-known reputation for journalistic integrity I guess. (No, it does not; I am being sarcastic!)

Come on, people! Get a pair! Show the whole world that you are not the gullible idiot who thinks that “if it was on the Internet, it has to be true.”

We need more guidelines. How about “Breaking News!” — Breaking news means we got it wrong, but we got it fast! And “this was verified through a confidential source” means (a) if I told you who told me, you’d laugh at me or (b) I am willing to be manipulated by someone who is unwilling to be quoted.

Our news media were on an upward trajectory away from “yellow journalism” and toward greater integrity but that trend has been reversed. In today’s journalism, opinion is promoted as fact and to make money news organs are peddling opinions without any facts. The newspaper guideline “If it bleeds, it leads” has been replaced with the 24-hour news cycle’s “Look at the shiny object, how does it make you feel?”

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19 Comments »

  1. What is needed is for all of us to be a lot more skeptical.

    And this entails learning how to be appropriately skeptical. So this returns us to the idea of what it is we’re trying to teach at schools, namely, educating children. This is why how we define what education is, what it means (what you have left when you’ve forgotten everything you’ve been taught), is so important to understand FIRST.

    I’ve long maintained that education is NOT about skills attainment, NOT about job training, NOT about getting certifications. It’s about learning how to think well. That is the goal. It necessarily includes teaching children how to think critically and creatively, how to think skeptically, how to learn from failure, how to improve goal setting and attainment, how to utilize strengths and mitigate weaknesses, how to work in teams and understand how to lead them, and so on. If we don’t teach children how to do this, how to think well and exercise appropriate skepticism, we end up where we are: a population unable to determine why respecting reality is a baseline that matters more than signing up, supporting, and expounding on some unrealistic partisan position.

    Like

    Comment by tildeb — December 6, 2016 @ 9:16 am | Reply

    • Yes, but tell me again what percentage of Americans believe in Angels? What percentage of people worldwide believe in witches? And finally, how many believe in Jesus? 😀

      Like

      Comment by The Pink Agendist, née Mr. Merveilleux — December 6, 2016 @ 9:46 am | Reply

      • As I said … we all need to be a lot more skeptical. All large scale religions are designed to preserve the power of the leadership of that religion as its primary purpose.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 9:47 am | Reply

      • … or dowsing, or alternative/traditional Chinese medicine, or homeopathy, or naturopathy, or ghosts, or a veritable host of conspiracy/denialist memes, or…

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by tildeb — December 6, 2016 @ 11:27 am | Reply

        • Can I just concede that Us’ins are believing fools. I’ll give you that. (Are all you all Canadians getting your just retribution now that we’ve been proven to be idgits?)

          On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 11:27 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 11:39 am | Reply

          • I didn’t mean my snippet of unbelievable claims to be just a US thing. It’s everywhere.

            Most people make a bit of wiggle room for some kind of Oogity Boogity! in their lives, the kind of wispy prevarication where we can sit back and look serious and thoughtful when we say, “Well, I don’t know. maybe there’s something more to all this ___ than meets the eye… “. The ones who do this the most are my favourite people, of course: the ubiquitous ever-superior agnostics who ponder Deep Things fairly and even-evenhandedly – not like those Nasty Woman kind of people who lend weight to respecting reality and actually form an evidence-based conclusion (they’re so intolerant and militant fundamentalists, donchaknow) – those who never quite get to leaning towards a decision about an evidence-empty, contra-physics woo-laden claim if the claim is even a little popular or slightly religious. They are multi-nationalists.

            Like

            Comment by tildeb — December 6, 2016 @ 11:56 am | Reply

        • That discussion we had with Kia was an amazing example. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone basically come out and say the facts are irrelevant to the issue, what matters is identity.
          My faith in progress is shaken.

          Like

          Comment by The Pink Agendist, née Mr. Merveilleux — December 6, 2016 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

          • I am of an age (born in the first half of the last century) that I was “sold” progress in school (“Progress is our most important product.” etc.) At this point in my life I am finding “progress” almost possible to define and that most discussions of it are propagandistic. Basically you are making progress when you agree with me. I remember standing in long lines at a neighborhood school to get government provided polio inoculations, That seemed like progress. Now, pharmaceutical companies, the same people responsible for making our so-called “miracle drugs” are making very (very!)minor changes in various drugs in order to re-patent them and get monopoly-like privileges for no real effort. That doesn’t seem like much progress.

            The post on your site about what looks to be fabulous news from around the world, sounded like real progress and was basically ignored in this country. (Progress is what Americans make, not that cheap, foreign stuff.)

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  2. I couldn’t agree more. One of my goals as a teacher was to encourage rational decision making. It was my greatest disappointment of my teaching career that I saw retrograde movement on that front. I see the current attacks on public education … to make money!!!! … as a huge threat to our future.

    Like

    Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 9:19 am | Reply

  3. I agree that it’s often difficult to distinguish the real from the fake in today’s news stories. Having said that, do you have recommendations of sources that you feel offer reliable reporting?

    Like

    Comment by Nan — December 6, 2016 @ 11:49 am | Reply

    • I am finding that news about the U.S. seems more accurate from The Guardian and Reuters, both European in location. I gave up on the Chicago tribune and I am finding the NYT less and les acceptable, especially their education reporting, actually all of their reporting seems narrative driven. Anything to recommend up your way? (I am in Chicago.)

      On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 11:49 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 11:53 am | Reply

      • Not sure that anything coming off the presses where I live (So. Oregon) is any different. 😉

        Actually, I enjoy reading some of the “opinion-type” news articles on occasion (especially when it comes to tRump), but I too have found the Guardian to be a bit more “factual.” Haven’t look much at Reuters but will start checking it out. Thanks for the feedback.

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        Comment by Nan — December 6, 2016 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  4. I disagree with “all news is fake news”. First of all, some stories can be demonstrably true – for example, a news story that a plane flew into a World Trade Center building: there is enough video evidence and witnesses to confirm it as true.
    Second, there has to be a distinction between actual fake news where someone intentionally makes up a false story (like I do on my blog, for example 🙂 ), and taking that fake story and reporting it as news without checking if it is true. The first is the real fake news, the second is media failing at their job of checking whether the news they report is true. But at least some outlets try to rectify their mistakes by publishing corrections, while the actual fake news never do.

    Like

    Comment by List of X — December 6, 2016 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

    • So you are saying there are gradations of “fakeness” which we can label what? Lies, damned lies, and statistics? (Is fakeness just an inverted truthiness scale?) I have to agree with you there but the “news story” that began with planes flying into the Twin Towers quickly ran off the rails. Two planes hit two buildings (which were designed to absorb the impact, which they did) and three buildings collapsed? There are oodles of bizarre holes in the “news story” of 9-11. Why has the FBI not released the driveway cam video of the hotel that shows the “plane” flying into the Pentagon? How did that plane leave a hole in the side of the pentagon much smaller than it was? real investigative reporting was not done.

      All of the “explanations” for 9-11 were competing “conspiracy theories” so why were alternative explanations to the government theory, sneered at and dismissed as being “just conspiracy theories.”

      Fake news, indeed.

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

      • I am saying that there is news that is knowingly created as fake – that’s what I would call “fake news”, and there’s news that that repost other stories without knowing whether they are true or not. It’s kind of like the difference between paying for groceries with a fake $20 knowing it’s a fake, and paying with a fake $20 not knowing it’s a fake.

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        Comment by List of X — December 6, 2016 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

        • I did understand. My point is that there is a difference between deliberate fake news and accidental fake news but that the distinction is on of kind. And the accidental part is generous. When mainstream news media take information and then write to confirm their narrative, they are neither independent or being truthful, they have been captured by their own narratives, e.g. NYT education coverage. So, their fake news is intended to be fake or not. Or is it just a case where a confirmation bias has been institutionalized?

          On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 2:49 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — December 7, 2016 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

  5. wish I kould write something here, dut es you kon see my Opple magik keyord is dysfuntionl. ordered one online today ond it should de here dy Thursday 😦

    Like

    Comment by lbwoodgate — December 6, 2016 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

    • I have several “spares” sitting on the shelf waiting for this one to crap out. The last one crapped out a couple of weeks ago and I was almost out of spares, so I went on eBay and ordered a couple more. I used to have a supply of the old IBM computer keyboards which were the absolute best, but nothing lasts forever. We used to put up canned goods in case of a flood or a storm and now we have to put up spare computer parts! Now that’s progress … ?!? My partner keeps insisting that somebody is going to pop off a nice EMP device somewhere near a large Internet node and the whole house of cards is going to come down. We can’t buy anything without computers any more and almost everything is controlled from computers over the Internet, so that will be “Bye-Bye American Pie” time. “Pie” being a metaphor for the whole megillah.

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 6, 2016 @ 12:52 pm | Reply


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